So many funerals…
I live in a small town and I am of a certain age. This means people I know seem to be dying off on some unknown but regular schedule. Lately, I have been going to quite a few funerals. I am experiencing a shrinking population of friends.
Memorial Day Gathering 2018
death held all our hands -softly without malice
Our voices combined to speak of life
beneath the chatter of our talking
I could hear a determined mummer,
a hum perhaps a hymn perhaps a tender promise.
We were a worn and battered group/friends
Some were missing and some will not return
We gathered in the memory of a distant youth
our vibrant middle age
no longer ours
We are old
We pretend for the afternoon to be joyful
Masking our fragilities and fears
The shadow of our mortality
Providing a cloud on a sunny afternoon
We are hiding from the reality of our worn bodies /lined faces
Our life force draining from us
Quarrels, passions, ambition, anger, love…voided
More will be absent next year and next year and next year
Someone’s fond memory
I have noticed that at funerals people come together and say nice things about the person who has recently passed away. Well deserved or not.
In 2018, I lost a friend younger than me who got very ill and then died very quickly. She was the glue for many relationships in my life and I admired her, loved her and I personally cannot say one negative word about her. Well, maybe one… her inordinate love for detail could be a bit dull. Her memorial was a true litany of her accomplishments and her goodness. She deserved every affectionate and glowing word that was said about her.
Last month, I attended the memorial of a famous painter. Yes, he created a lovely body of work. Yes, he encouraged and taught other artists to grow in their painting skills. In was inferred he was a great lover. Yes, I took his classes and learned some important things. For instances: “Cows always sell paintings… “ “Add red…double your price.”
I also knew that he beat at least one of his wives, was denigrating to his children, and had the politics of a gangster.
Anyway, I listened to hours of high praise and said not one word. I hugged his children and left.
Next on my funeral agenda: the husband of a friend recently retreated from his failing body and is no longer dominating his wife and home. In the planning stage is a huge memorial to him as a quasi-religious guide and philosopher. I wish he had been less entitled, less chauvinistic, and more thoughtful of others, …also it would have been considerate if he had bathed more often.
I was fond him…I made him special foods he liked, and I exchanged affectionate words with him. However, I could tell you some stories, but I am not going to. In praise of our best self…. is that what memorials and funerals are for? If it makes the living feel good, than we should only say kind and loving words about the deceased? Right?