This past week I attended a graveside memorial for a close family friend, LaVon Anthony. My folks met her in the 80s when I was but just a minion of a person. She lived in the trailer court a hop, skip, and a jump from my childhood home on the west side of Logan. As a young girl I remember her wit and straight talk. She never had kids and was married for only a few short months years before, so my sister and I kind of adopted her as a “fill-in” grandma. I have many fond memories of having dinners with her. We loved when she’d come over and we’d both shovel in the food in hopes that she’d stay around to play a game of “Hand and Foot” with us. She’d never let us win… that wasn’t LaVon… she was competitive no matter how many digits were in your age… but that’s why we loved her.
In the 90s after she’d returned from serving her 2nd church mission, she even lived with us for a while until she was able to secure an apartment behind the tabernacle in Logan… and then when they demolished those apartments years later to build a parking lot, she moved into Williamsburg Retirement Home where she lived out the rest of her days.
I could relate to her more as I aged. A single woman without kids trying to make it in a lonely world full of families. She’d often lament that no one would bother to attend her funeral so was adament she wouldn’t have one. She worried about money running out before she passed and was often wondering where that would leave her with no kids to take care of her.
My mom got the call 2 weeks ago Sunday that she was found in her apartment in Williamsburg slumped over the bathtub, dressed for the day, her bag packed waiting for a brother-in-law to pick her up to watch general conference. She’d had a stroke and was transferred from Logan Hospital to an Ogden Hospital and once stabilized transferred back to a skilled nursing facility in Logan to live out the remainder of her days. Mom and I went to visit her the evening she arrived at the facility, flowers in hand, not knowing what to expect. She was asleep when we arrived, so we gently woke her. Her eyes remained closed for our visit and I’m not sure if she knew who we were… her left side was paralyzed and the one word answers she was able to give seemed slurred and sometimes incoherent. It was not the LaVon I always joked around with, the LaVon who would come back with the wittiest reply even at 93 years old.
Mom turned to look at me and mouthed “she’s gone,” the person we knew and loved had moved on… her body was just here until it could pass into the next stage.
Through big fat tears rolling down my cheeks, I felt prompted to wish her safe travels and the happiest of reunions with her dear parents and siblings who had passed before her. I let her know I loved her and she was able to reply with a “love you.” We said our goodbyes… LaVon passed away the next night. I went to her graveside memorial on Wednesday, a 2-1/2-hour drive each way for a 30-minute service, I went because I told her I would be there, and I hope when it’s my time, childless and spouseless, someone does the same… because they care.
Safe travels, thou good and faithful servant. I hope they play a mean game of Hand and Foot in heaven too…