Many years ago I arrived to a funeral twelve minutes late hoping I could quietly take a seat in the back. But when I walked into the chapel it was empty. I inquired, and was told that a fight had broken out among members of the family and the service had been, shall we say, short.
I’ve also attended several funerals at which the clergyman began with, “I never had the good fortune to meet the departed, but he (or she) was…”
Somehow, I find that disrespectful.
For my father’s funeral last Tuesday morning we decided to hold graveside services with only family and a few close friends attending.
One of his grandsons was scheduled to return Monday night from a week long vacation on Maui but, alas, the plane leaked fuel onto the tarmac and his flight was canceled. This was at the end of the three-day Memorial Day weekend. Fortunately he was able to rebook himself on a return flight through Seattle and arrived at graveside a few minutes before we began.
Dad’s eight grandchildren served as pallbearers, and everyone told touching tales about Dad, many of which were new to me. Among the last to speak, movingly, was one of his great-granddaughters.
After our brief family gathering my nephew pointed out that my brother David’s grave was nearby. All of us spent a few moments there in silent remembrance.
Unlike the other funerals I mentioned, at my Dad’s memorial the feeling of family unity, spanning three generations, was unmistakable. The man from the mortuary said it was one of the most moving tributes he’d ever seen.
The morning had been quite difficult for me, recovering from two recent cervical spine surgeries, and I was flat on my back most of the following day (although I have been told, repeatedly, “this too will pass”). It will take months.
But last Tuesday I was comforted to know that the two generations of my family who come after me are in the hands and hearts of articulate, kind, and caring people, and, knowing this comfort will endure forever inside me, I am at peace
My heartfelt thanks to all.
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