On Wednesday, two days before a massive snow storm paralyzed Columbia, Edna “Ruth” Creason, 87, died at Lenoir Care Center. Not knowing how bad the storm would be, her family arranged her funeral for Saturday.
But sometimes things don’t go as planned.
While other Columbians enjoyed days off, played in the snow or just admired the scene from their windows, Mrs. Creason’s family gathered to celebrate the life of a loved one amid one of the biggest snowstorms in recent years.
When Mary Anne Crane, Ruth Creason’s daughter, realized Friday morning that her siblings from North Carolina and Oklahoma weren’t going to make it to Columbia in time, she called the funeral home to reschedule. It was a tough decision to make.
“But we wanted the whole family to be together,” Crane said.
The funeral home was able to accommodate her request to change the date of the funeral, but there were other issues to deal with. Crane had to call relatives, change floral arrangements and prepare for her family to stay longer than planned.
“We have eight people and five dogs,” she said about the guests expected at her three-bedroom home, which usually houses just two people.
While Crane prepared for their arrival, family members from out of town braved the elements just to make it to Columbia.
For Crane’s daughter, Misty Heath, it took nine hours instead of two and a half to get to Columbia from her home in Fort Leavenworth, just north of Kansas City.
Heath, her husband, two children and two dogs got held up on Interstate 70 just past Interstate 65 in what she described as a virtual “parking lot.” At one point, they stopped at an exit only to find that the gas station was closed. They eventually got lunch at another station.
“We just grabbed something off the shelf,” she said about their meal of candy bars.
The Heaths weren’t the only ones facing the snow. One of Ruth Creason’s sons, John Creason, and his wife, Kathy, left their home in North Carolina on Thursday morning and made their usual stop in Mount Vernon, Ill., for the night without a problem. The next day they hit snowy conditions around St. Louis.
“We started to see some weather and it got increasingly worse,” she said. They had to take a 50-mile detour because of closures on I-70, only making it to Columbia on Friday evening.
John Creason’s brother Arlen was turned back once by state troopers in his home state of Oklahoma because of the weather. He still had not arrived as of late Saturday afternoon.
All the while, Crane stayed home in Columbia fielding calls from friends about the change in plans and constantly checking road conditions to keep family members still on the road up to date. On top of everything, she worked to make her house comfortable by preparing chili and vegetable soup. She made sure the food would be warm when her family arrived.
Family members that had made it by Saturday stayed busy shoveling out Crane’s driveway. When they finished, they went down to Ruth Creason’s home at the end of Route PP to clear the snow so that other guests could stay there when they got into town.
Despite everything, the family remained positive.
“It’s a good feeling having a lot of family together,” said Kathy Creason. “We’ve had some really good times today.”
She thinks her mother-in-law would be happy with how things turned out.
“I’m sure Mom would have approved of the feeling that was going on here.”
Visitation will be from 1 to 2 p.m. today at Memorial Funeral Home, 1271 Business Loop 70 W. The funeral is scheduled for 2 p.m.