Chicago August 8-12, 2019

Aunty Pauline’s Memorial Service

I thought my traveling days were over, but I flew to Chicago to attend my Aunt Pauline’s funeral. It was a beautiful celebration of her life of 92 years. Also, as with most memorial services, it was a chance for family reunion, and meeting long lost friends and extended relatives from my childhood.

One doctor said I would have no trouble flying that far. Another doctor said she thought I was crazy. I flew anyway. I made reservations with Southwest Airlines for a round trip nonstop flight – which meant five days in the Windy City. I checked the weather reports and packed for hot, humid days. Bad idea.  Since it was so warm, air-conditioning worked full-blast. I forgot to pack extra scarves, pashminas, and heavy sweaters to wear indoors. Also, Southwest no longer provides blankets – or food

We stayed in a handicapped room in the Westin Hotel on Michigan Avenue. The hotel was located in two connected buildings. Our building was extremely cold. We had to call engineering to cut off the air conditioning. Didn’t help. I also ordered an extra blanket.

 Before I left California, I ordered a power scooter from Howard Medical, which was waiting for me at the registration desk.   The hotel was quite large and it was a long walk from the elevator to my room. I also brought a rolling walker with me to get around the hotel room. We paid extra to use the Concierge room for breakfast and pre-dinner appetizers. Since we were downtown, there were many restaurants within walking distance.

The next day (Thursday), Bill and I wandered around Michigan Ave at lunchtime. Did some shopping and ate at Starbucks. There was entertainment from local bands every Thursday at lunchtime right outside our hotel.

A dinner was planned in Chinatown for the out-of-town family.  We had two tables (for 10), so those Chicago people who could fight the traffic joined us. We took an Uber SUV to the Lee Wing Wah Restaurant, where we were dropped off on the outside of the mall with the scooter in pieces. Bill had to reassemble the scooter. Luckily the restaurant was on the first floor. The food was delicious!

When we returned to our hotel, the valet suggested we order an accessible Uber to go to the funeral home. It was cheaper than the SUV, and we didn’t have to disassemble the scooter. I rode my scooter up the car’s ramp, the driver tied my scooter down, and away we went. When we got to the funeral home, another ramp was provided over the few steps into the building.

The memorial service was a beautiful tribute to my aunt. Her grandson, his wife and three of their oldest children provided the music.

Aunty Pauline would have been proud of them. So many people attended, that the staff had to provide extra chairs in the adjoining room. Afterwards everyone was invited to a post-funeral Chinese dinner at the beautiful New Furama Restaurant, equipped with an elevator.

Then the family gathered in my aunt’s condo for more food. and conversation.

My cousin James took us back to our hotel for a short nap. I ate so much that day, all I could eat for dinner was lobster bisque soup at the hotel’s Grille.

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Chicago Second Presbyterian Church

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I took a trip to Chicago, my home town, to dedicate a memorial to my mother, who would have been 101 years old this year. The dedication took place at the Second Presbyterian Church of Chicago. Family members were invited to participate in the worship service in the beautiful 175 year old church.

IMG_4015 Me and my son, Steve.

Be careful when climbing steps with a cane. I did a Cinderella by losing my shoe.

steve-steps

As a child, I never realized the quality of artwork within the architecture of the building. When I was about 4 years old, I was thrilled to be able to be a flower girl at my aunt’s wedding. I did not know what to expect. At the rehearsal, when the organ blared I got scared and ran to my mother, burying my head in her lap. Dr. William Clyde Howard gently took my hand and led me into the choir loft. He let me press the keys to make astounding music. Since then, I served as flower girl for many other aunts. Music also became a part of my life. Two generations later my granddaughter observed the same organ at the church.

Located on Michigan Avenue, in what is now termed the South Loop, construction of the church building began in 1872. The design of the building was based on English Gothic churches of the 15th and 16th centuries. Prominent members included Robert Todd Lincoln, George Pullman, George Armour, and Silas Cobb.

In March 1900, a devastating fire destroyed the interior of the church, but the stone wall survived intact. Architect Howard Van Doren Shaw, a member, was hired to redesign the new sanctuary in the Arts & Crafts style.

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Our family was treated to a tour of the beautiful artwork in the sanctuary. During the worship service, we took part in the dedication of the renewal of the baptismal fount .

 

 

The sanctuary has been virtually unchanged since it was rebuilt in 1901, making it one of the largest and most intact Arts & Crafts interiors in the country.

Significant memorial windows added between 1901 and 1917 included nine by Lewis Tiffany Studios, and two important windows by Edward Burne-Jones. In 1917, the four-manual pipe organ was rebuilt by the Austin Organ Company, increasing it to 50 stops and 2,606 pipes.

Robert Todd Lincoln, son of President Abraham Lincoln, was appointed a trustee of the church in 1879, until he accepted a post as ambassador to the United Kingdom in 1889.

The church was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 and later designated a Chicago Landmark on September 28, 1977.[2] It was designated a National Historic Landmark in March 2013.[3]

Historical information: Second Presbyterian Church, A Brief History, by William Tyre, June, 2017.

Photographs by Martin Cheung.