At Funeral Services May 27, 1998, Blackfoot, Idaho
It was barely nine months ago that we gathered here for the funeral of my father, Howard Packham. We thought then that we had no tears left.
We were mistaken.
Those of you who were here at that time may have noticed that the services today will be very similar to those for my father, even with some of the same music. That is because it was Mother's wish that it be so. So, it falls to me again to give the life sketch and family tribute.
Delmar Walton was born September 9, 1915, in a home for unwed mothers in Ogden, Utah. We do not know who the young woman was who gave her birth, but she was already spoken for by a young childless couple from Pocatello, Idaho, Albert and Laura Walton, who took her as their own when she was just a few days old.
Albert and Laura were of good English stock whose parents had converted to Mormonism in England. Both were from railroad families, and Albert also worked for the railroad in Pocatello, and although the Waltons did not have much in material things, they had an abundance of love for their only child, and a tangible sign of their love for her is the number of professional photographs we have of Delmar at every age of her childhood.
She returned their devotion by never revealing to her parents that cousins had told her what her parents had chosen not to tell her: that she was adopted. And her parents never found out that she knew what they wanted her not to know.
She had dance lessons and piano lessons and frequently performed in music and dance events during her childhood. Her photographs show a beautiful girl with dark eyes and a winning smile, and she attracted many young admirers.
But the boy who won her heart was a young farmboy named Howard Packham, from Groveland, who was attending college in Pocatello. Their music brought them together.
In January 1933, in her senior year of high school, the young lovers eloped on the train to Salt Lake City, and then moved in with Delmar's parents.
It was in the depths of the Great Depression, and the best job Howard could find was as an apprentice embalmer.
Their first two children came, and they moved to Blackfoot, where Howard had been offered a job as an embalmer. They spent the rest of their lives in Blackfoot, finally establishing their own funeral home there.
Delmar assisted actively in the business, qualifying as a licensed funeral director, and became active in the community, developing a wide circle of friends.
In the 40's Howard and Delmar became more active in the church. Three more children came, and she devoted herself to her husband, her children, and her church. She also provided a loving home for her widowed mother for her final years.
She served many years as stake or ward organist and in many church callings, in Relief Society and Primary, and in the Idaho Falls temple. After she and Dad retired, they served a mission at church historical sites in New York State.
She loved her needlework, her golf, her house, her shopping, and her books. She loved a good game of bridge or canasta, and was a formidable opponent who took obvious delight in winning. Her luck at cards was a family legend.
Her sense of humor and her kindness made life with her a pleasure. Her love for her husband, her family and her church were unwavering and unconditional. It seemed that there was no fault in any of us that she could not forgive.
And I truly believe that it was that love for her husband that really brought her life to an end, although the death certificate does not list "grief" as the cause of death. Mother did not adapt well to widowhood. She tried to put on a brave front, but her heart was broken. She visited Dad's grave every day, and all she really wanted was to follow him. Mother usually got her way.
Fortunately, she did not have a lingering illness. Last Tuesday she was planning to fly to California.
On behalf of the family, I thank you all for the many years of friendship which you have shown to our parents. You have made their lives, and ours, richer, and we hope that their friendship and love have enriched your lives in return.The day that Mother died
Dawned like any other day.
We could not know our lives
Were changing in such an awful way
The day that Mother died
There died a part of me
That I had always counted on,
But was no more to be.
No more to hear her laughing voice
Or feel her arms around me -
Now only distant memories
Of her surround me.
The day she died, I realized
I'd never been alone.
Today, the world's a sorry place
Now that Mother's gone.
Mother sometimes said that when she died she did not want any funeral, because she was afraid that no one would come. As you can see, Mother was sometimes wrong.