Friday, August 06, 2010

The Funeral

Back in May, I had the solemn task of attending my father's funeral.  Of course, it was a sad day, and yet it was punctuated by stories and laughter, as always happens at funerals when family and friends remember the lives of those who have passed.  In some ways, it was like any other funeral I have attended.  We had an afternoon visitation and an evening visitation, followed by the funeral the next day. 

Perhaps it's my age speaking, but I have to say that I was stunned by what people choose to wear to the visitations.  My cousin wore a pair of ratty old jeans, white running shoes, and a faded yellow t-shirt.  Others came in shorts and sandals, short skirts and halter tops, and garments that made it look like they had been out for a hike.  I do not think that a black dress or suit are requirements any more (though I wore a black suit), I think that people ought to make an effort to dress properly to show respect.  I think it's insulting to the family to show up wearing something you would wear to a bar-b-que or to change a flat on your car.

At the funeral home, I was greeted by an aged woman who asked if I knew who she was.  A name popped into my head immediately, but then I rejected it thinking that it was an impossibility that she could still be alive.  After a few seconds, I uttered her name at the same time as she.  I almost fainted.  How is it possible that you are still alive, I wanted to ask.  I manged to restrain myself.  My grandmother is older (now 91), but I always thought that this woman was even older, but maybe that has to do with the beard and mustache she has sported for her entire life.  And, of course, this explains why she never remarried after her husband died a very young man.

I knew the even older woman standing beside her instantly, though she was even older.  She is someone I could never forget.  Throughout the day and the next, I saw people I hadn't seen in 20, 30 or more years.  So, I guess the themes of the day were grieving, nostalgia, remembrance, and reacquaintance.

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