Funeral’s aren’t always the most fitting send off for the deceased person; Occasionally I ponder on the wisdom of preparing a few tips for whoever might have the task when it comes to my funeral; then I think one can take planning a little too far (perhaps)! Today’s funeral was quite different as the minister conducting the service spoke so fondly of my late ex-colleague; his words delivered with genuine affection that only comes from having known the person in life.
The church was full with people from all aspects of her life including about 30 of her ex-colleagues from the same organisation where we had worked together. Her daughter had written the piece about her life that the Minister delivered; a wise and brave decision. Whilst some people might say that a close relative or friend should talk about the deceased no matter how painful that might be but I don’t share that view. It’s a god awful thing to have to go through without putting yourself in a position where you are liable to fall apart in public. The cruelty of a child burying a parent compounded by, in this case, the parents burying their child. She was 56 years old and had fought her cancer since the diagnosis in 2008. Her tenacity demonstrated as she worked until February last year keeping going through chemotherapy and the hideous side effects of treatment.
I’ve never seen a wicker coffin before but it was somehow beautiful; far more natural than a traditional one and complimented with spring flowers – the tulips especially. She would have been amused by the presence of the Chairman, the Chief Executive and two members of the senior management team of the organisation she retired from last November. Never seeing the benefits of one of the last final salary pension schemes. This would have been the most attention any of the managerial staff had ever given her; I can see the wry smile she would have given (behind which would have been a silent hollow laugh). Not forgetting the raised eyebrow knowing that at least some attendees were there as a (respectful) sign of duty rather than anything more.
In the address her daughter had written she refers to her mother’s kindness for those she had time for and I wondered if the person I mentioned in my earlier piece was listening. In rememberance of her I did something everso slightly naughty knowing she would have approved (seriously she would have had trouble swollowing a smile)! Wickedly the opportunist in me blew on the back of the neck of the person I described in my earlier piece. Opportunist because he happened to be in front of me as we were leaving the church and also because it is his misfortune to be almost a foot shorter than me! She would have appreciated the look of alarm on his face when he turned round to see who had the audacity to do such as thing on such a solemn occasion. ‘How are you?’ he asked suitably stunned. ‘Oh you know, OK’ I replied. What else can you say at a funeral?
The Minister quoted Dylan Thomas during his address and so I too will end with:
‘Rage, rage against the dying of the light’. Goodbye my friend for me you will always make me smile