Saturday, August 02, 2008

Funerals - What A Strange Thing

My Grandma's funeral was the first that I can remember attending. Now I probably attended the funeral of my Grandpa's cousin and that of my Grandpa, where, mum reminded me recently, I uttered the words, "I done poo!" quite loudly in front of the mourners. But that's another story.

It was a cold day on Monday when friends, family and parishioners came to farewell Grandma. The priest started the ceremony with the words, "When I first met Kate, she was angry. And she had a right to be." That lightened the mood somewhat. It was very church-like in nature, unsurprising given her faith, but the ceremony lacked something. Whether it was more of a showcase of her life but I'm not sure. I'm not au fait with the goings on at funerals. The eulogy was delivered with aplomb but my camera stopped filming thirty seconds before the conclusion. Damn. I wish the eulogy has gone for at least thirty minutes however as there was so much that we could have been told about.

Come time to take my place as a pall bearer and you'd get the feeling that the lady funeral director had never done this before as they, her and her assistant, kept spinning the coffin this way and that unsure in which direction to point it. I thought that we would lift the coffin to our shoulders and walk out but it was carried at arms length. I didn't know what to feel, really, as I knew that it wasn't quite goodbye as the burial would be held the next day. After placing the coffin in the hearse we retired to the hall for morning tea and a wake.

Following the wake we were about to leave, after making a decision where to meet for lunch, when a parking inspector chatted us about a complaint having been made about somebody parking illegally. He asked if we had been involved in the funeral, what time it had finished and what we did afterwards. It was policy not to charge people for parking too long if they were attending a funeral. That's not to say that he was targeting us but he just wanted our story.

Next day, some three hours drive away, we buried my Grandma. I was to be a pall bearer again but this time I had to lower the coffin into the grave. No new-fangled coffin-lowering gizmos in the country. The ceremony was very short, which was welcome due to the fact that seven degrees C is not the type of weather to be hanging around in a summer suit in, but that surprised me somewhat. The funeral director's hired help on this day had to be told what to do when he was doing it and it was painfully obviously what had to be done as well.

What do you think when lowering a coffin into a grave? You think, "Hurry up Dad and catch up otherwise you might tip it over." That's what. We had lunch at the pub afterwards and then returned to take a photo of the grave once it had been filled in. That image was quite a shock. Just seeing a newly filled in hole with flowers atop and comparing it to what I had witnessed earlier was a little confronting.

I'm very glad that I was able to say goodbye, in my own way. And I'm glad that nobody told me what to expect. I wouldn't have believed anyone if they told me a week earlier exactly what I would find myself doing.


Iris Flavia said...

My brother uses to say you always have to respect the way a person says his final good-bye – even if it means accepting the person does not show up at the funeral.

So far I attended two – and they were totally different with one being evangelic and the other catholic.
Both did hurt a lot and the first still is very unreal to me.

Well. But it´s part of life, right?

Hammy said...

It's definitely part of life.

Anonymous said...

R.I.P. Grandma Hammy loves you.