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Beyond the Lone Islands

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Preserve Your Memories

"Preserve your memories, they're all that's left you..."
(Paul Simon; cf. this post of mine from 17 April)

The sun did not shine, but neither did we have to huddle under umbrellas, on the day of my mother's funeral. It rained in the morning, and it rained the next day; but not right before, during or just after the funeral.

We managed to get the very last time availabe before the church closed for a renovation this summer. (I did not even know until the day of the funeral that if we had chosen a later date, we would not have been able to use that church! It is a beautiful church and I don't really know what they need to renovate.) The surrounding landscape is at its best this time of the year, all fresh and green. Since my mum always loved being out in the woods and in the garden, we kept to hymns and songs connecting to that theme throughout. None of us had met the vicar until he came to my dad's house a week before the funeral and talked to me and my dad. But he turned out to be a good listener, and able to pick up just the right things and express them well at the funeral.

Mum and Dad did not have all that many close relatives and friends, and many of them have their own health problems; but nearly everybody whom we really wished to be there was able to come (around 25 people altogether). Dad himself has a neurological impairment which affects both his ability to walk and his memory and concentration now, and we were worried how he would get through the day; but he "did well", on the whole. Instead of walking in the procession between the church and the grave, he agreed to be taken round in the car by my brother, while my aunt and I walked behind the coffin, with the other guests following.

After the last farewell at the grave, we all went by car to the church hall, where a cold buffet was served. Dad refrained from trying to make any speech himself; but my brother made a very good one, and so did one of my dad's cousins and also a representative of the local historical society in which my parents have been active members over the past 17 years. I also said a few words but chose to express myself mostly in a sort of memorial scrapbook/ photo collage which was displayed on a separate table in the church hall. All in all, I feel that we managed to keep the focus on grateful memories.

This is a picture of my mum from a few years back,
(in December) overlooking a lake near where
they live, from the top of a bird watch tower.

And this is a picture of my parents, sitting on a park bench
overlooking another lake; this one was sent to me
by a friend of theirs after the funeral.
This photo, too, reminds me of the Bookends/Old Friends
lyrics by Paul Simon,
from which I borrowed the title of this post.


Thom said...

The service sounds absolutely perfect my friend. I'm sure your mom was looking down upon you all with a huge smile on her face and casting all the love and devotion to you all. That is a wonderful picture of your mom and then of your mom and dad. Thank you for sharing this most difficult part of your life. I know this is a very hard time for you and your family and you have been so dignified and gracious with keeping us informed. My thoughts are always with you and know that mom is well taken care of and you and your family will always have her memories. Aloha my friend :)

California Girl said...

I hope you keep good memories of the service in your heart. My dad's was wonderful and I'm very proud of it. The photos of your parents are sweet and poignant. It's so hard, isn't it?

Good luck to you.

rae said...

I'm so sorry for your loss.

Raven said...

It sounds like it was a beautiful ceremony. I'm glad you and your father and brother had good support and that it was a good closure. I have always loved the bookends song. Your photos are lovely. I have been so self-absorbed of late, but I do hold you in my thoughts and prayers.

DawnTreader said...

Thanks to all for your comments. I have not attended all that many funerals over the years. But comparing the few that I have been to, I find it a lot more helpful if it's not all black and heavy (the music and the speeches included). Neither my brother nor I dressed all in black; and I was personally very grateful that it was summer, and for all the beautiful flowers that added colour.


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