We went to a funeral today. My brother's father-in-law died last Saturday and although Mr. Moon and I were not close to him, he had made a huge difference in the lives of my brother and his family. He loved them dearly and took them on wonderful vacations. A month ago, in fact, they all went to North Carolina together and a good time was had by all. He was my niece's and nephew's only grandparent after my mother died and they adored "Papa."
And so of course we had to go. Family. The service was held in a funeral home and was short and sweet. His daughters and a few of his siblings spoke as well as his best friend. It was decidedly non-religious. The holy name of the father was only mentioned once, heaven a few times, hell not at all. Mostly the stories were about funny things he'd done, how caring he'd been as a father, a brother, a husband.
It was good to see my brother and his wife and Kian and Riley, so almost-grown now. We saw them at Easter but I swear they've grown since then. Kian is driving now, Riley is about to get her license. I think they were all glad we showed up. We were glad we went.
I think of how we never pulled a funeral together for my mother. Part of me is ashamed of that. Part of me is not. I know that her church friends might have wished that we had. Her minister called me at least three times before he finally gave up, inquiring as to what sort of service we might want. We're not a religious family in any sense. One of my brothers lives in the Pacific Northwest and he wasn't going to come, believing rightly that seeing Mother while she was alive was far more important than attending a funeral. And my other two brothers and I were going through confusing times due to several issues and...well, it just didn't happen.
Ironically, the last time I saw Tom, my brother's father-in-law was right after Mother died. Chuck and his wife and their kids and Tom came over and we ate some ham and hung out, mostly on the porch. And that was that.
I wonder what will happen when I die. Humans can't help but contemplate that situation for themselves. I don't mean where will I go when I die? What sort of form my soul will take? Not that. No one knows and if anyone tells you that they do, don't believe them. I'm thinking eternally gone. Done. And as much as I love to sleep, that's fine with me.
No. I'm talking about what my kids and husband will do. (I better go before him.) I really don't care. I mean, I'll be dead. We joke about it sometimes.
"Play Thunder Road."
I think that's the main directive I've given. That's not much to go on, is it?
I imagine that there will be drinking involved. As there should be. Dancing, I hope.
I remember after my beloved friend Lynn died and how, at the end of a long day of celebrating her life, Shayla and I danced in my hallway to Somewhere Over The Rainbow by Iz Kamakawiwo'Ole. I had danced in so many hallways and kitchens with Lynn and that dance felt sacred. Lynn would have loved that more than anything. Sometimes it is best, I think, to let these things arise organically rather than to plan a sterile service with no room for improvisational hallway dancing.
Well, I really did not mean to discuss after-death plans. I rarely have any idea what I'm going to write about when I sit down.
Talk about arising organically...
But the topic of my death doesn't depress me. I've lived. I'll die. Whatever happens after will be what it is. Now the thought of other people's deaths is another thing entirely. That I can't even discuss.
It's pouring rain and the sun is shining. There is no doubt a rainbow involved somewhere. It smells of the funk of wet dirt and the sharpness of ozone. The best perfume in the world. All over the world and right in my family there are people mourning the loss of loved ones. Every one of us has lost someone. Some of those losses are almost unbearable. Some of them are more confusing than painful. There are no rules about these things. Not about death or how we should feel about it or what we should do afterwards.
But I do like to think of the people I've loved who have died and how much they would have loved this or hated that. I miss them and selfishly, I miss the parts of me that went with them because we share different parts of ourselves with different people. We have entrusted those people with these parts of ourselves and they have loved us despite them or because of them. That's what love is, I think. Or some of it.
Ah well. I think I'll go make some curried squash and sweet potato and cashew soup. You know why? Because I can. And I want to. And I'm alive.
I love you, Mary. That is all.ReplyDelete
Families are complicated and death only makes them more so. I’m glad you were there, especially for your niece and nephew. They’ll remember.ReplyDelete
The screen door slams, Mary's dress waves....yup. That's on my funeral music list. Confuses my husband somewhat, but he'll get over it. I dream of sitting on your front porch with a couple of martini's belting out that song in two part harmony. You never know. XReplyDelete
by the time my mother died, she had been living in the PNW for 5 years. no friends up there beyond the people who took care of her in the family home and since she had nothing but complaints I'm sure she didn't consider them friends though they treated her like family, no friends here, all alienated or dead. anyway, who would come if we had had a funeral? we had had her cremated in Washington and scattered her ashes on the Galveston beach. we did finally decide to have a memorial or remembrance open house kind of thing at my house notice of which was in the obit. I think three people showed up, a friend of mine and I think 2 friends of my sister's. if my kids want to do anything for me they should just have a big party, dig a hole, toss in my ashes, and then plant a tree on me.ReplyDelete
Plant a tree for me, dance on the beach, listen to a favorite song and remember that I loved living and my loved ones should too. 'Night Ms. Moon.ReplyDelete
I asked my sister to have me cremated, and left her some money to do it, and give the ashes to my kids. I wonder what they will do with them.ReplyDelete
That is an interesting question- what WILL they do with them? I think you should ask them now.Delete
I love your comment about those who have died, "I miss the parts of me that went with them because we share different parts of ourselves with different people." True and poignant.ReplyDelete
I think it's one of the clearest epiphanies I ever had in my life.Delete
My mum died six years ago and I still miss her. Not how she was in the last year of her life which was awful, but the her when we could still walk together and look at gardens. I never confided in my mum but I miss those walks. Spring and gardens is what my mum meant to me.ReplyDelete
I think more people should have parties before they die. Why wait? Have a farewell party if there's time.
At my funeral I want everyone to tell a joke, preferably a dirty joke but since I won't be there I won't have any control over that:)
I wish I could say I miss my mother.Delete
And, having said that, I feel terribly guilty but it's the truth.
You're right about the pre-death parties. Unfortunately, I don't think that most dying people feel like having a party but I bet that there are many who would enjoy it.
I like the dirty jokes idea. Very much.
I want to be the last to go, here, although we don't have much say in the matter, and I'll be, literally, the last of our generation in any direction you can name. When you're the baby in the family and your mother was the youngest too, you get to see a lot of deaths.ReplyDelete
I want to be scattered, or slightly planted. Grow a bush, a tree, or a bit of lawn. I really won't mind.
I do plan on staying right here, in this house (or out there in the field somewhere), one way or another. Someone's got to keep an eye on things.
(I like your style, Ms. Moon).
I like your style, too, Ms. Mittens. And yes, somehow, someway, I want my "energy" to be restored to the growth of stuff. Plants, mushrooms. As I've said before, I wouldn't mind being cut up and given as chum to sharks. Whatever! That probably isn't legal, is it?Delete
It's sad that you'll be the last in your generation to go. I have siblings and cousins so I don't have that to think about.
When we die, we simply ...die. that's it. We leave a hole in the lives of those remaining alive, we are gone for keeps, that's it. Just as it was before we managed to scoop all of the cells together and get born somewhat whole- we are absorbed into the same "place" as before. We are missed, we are either well thought of or not. We are dead. It is comforting , however, for those who remain here on earth, to have a grave to go to, a tree to go to, a river, a brook , a mountain, the back of a theater- somewhere that marks the spot to go to, to feel the dead. I like the idea of ashes- so many options. I took my brother to Europe and Norway, I took my friend to Norway, I took my Mother to Wyoming. That seems like a great way to travel with the (imaginary) companionship of the dearly departed. I want my ashes to inspire travel and nature- life.ReplyDelete
I do agree with you about there being a "spot" that our loved ones can visit to perhaps feel our presence. I wonder if any part of our corporeal remains have to be there, though. And you're right- traveling with the ashes of loved ones is a bit like having their companionship.Delete
"I want my ashes to inspire travel and nature-life." I like that very much.
This pretty much says it all "Sometimes it is best, I think, to let these things arise organically rather than to plan a sterile service with no room for improvisational hallway dancing."ReplyDelete
It says it for me.Delete
I am with Colette here. And I've been to Irish wakes (3 days minimum).ReplyDelete
And I've signed a piece of paper with only one instruction to my family: whatever you want to do but don't waste money on stuff and pomp.
Sometimes we talk about funeral playlists until the man in my life suggests Return To Sender and I punch him. He is serious, though.
Retern To Sender? That is great. Your man is funny.ReplyDelete
I'm pretty sure that my family knows not to spend any money on stuff and/or pomp. Food and drink though- yeah.
I told you, we're gonna rent out the Civic Center.ReplyDelete
And I told you I only have about two friends. I love you, Hank.Delete
LOL -- this post has some interesting (and funny!) comments. I love the idea of hosting a funeral in the empty civic center, and playing "Return to Sender."ReplyDelete
We never did a funeral for my father, either, but that's how he wanted it. I don't think a funeral is absolutely necessary. I doubt my mom will get one. I don't particularly want one. In my family we like to sneak away quietly.