Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Unexpectedly Beautiful

Not that I'm trying to be particularily gloomy - I usually save that for my other blog. I will try to get off this subject soon. The subject: death.

I went to the funeral yesterday of my daughter's friends' mother. (Those of you who are English majors probably cringe at my punctuation. Sorry.) At any rate, it was rather unusual compared to the funerals I have attended in the past.

Until now the funerals I have attended have been held in a church or funeral home. The casket is usually open and there is a guest book to sign as you file by the deceased and try to figure out if they made him/her look as life-like as they did the last time you saw him/her. You sit in a chair where for fifteen minutes you try and figure out which flowers were sent by whom and who is that person sitting with the family that you are just sure you should know. You are always early - it just wouldn't do to come late to such an event. Ever.

A person begins the service. It normally is a pastor / minister / priest / whatever religious affiliation the deceased belongs with. Sometimes there are family members who read a little something they've written or simply recite scripture. There is a bit about the persons' life. Depending on how well the speaker has known the person or has been prepped by the family, it can come out very well - or very stilted. Sometimes you know the person better than the one speaking and it becomes difficult to say who this person was that they are talking about, 'cause it sure isn't the one you knew! Finally, they normally try to impart some of their own beliefs onto the crowd in one form or another, then you are adjorned to either follow the casket to a cemetary for a graveside service, or to skip that and go straight to the luncheon in the church basement.

This one was different. For one thing, there was no church or funeral home service. They only had a graveside service. The casket wasn't open, and a picture of the woman taken when she was young a beautiful was placed on the top. The mourners showed up in shorts and jeans and tank tops and flip-flops. That was how she wanted it. Casual. She loved her garden and a lovely poem had been written by her sister that reflected how the garden and the wild creatures would miss "the caretaker" of the garden. Her husband of 50-some years brought her pet bird to the service and to the church afterwards where they served cookies and juice and everyone talked about her life. It was unexpectedly beautiful.

I hope when I go it will be with casual grace and kind words from people who really knew me.