the funeral ‘after’

Prior to the weekend, the last family funeral I was at was my mother’s.

This time, I brought sandwiches and carried a tray of buns. I saw folk I hadn’t seen since ‘our’ wake. It’s different now. Amongst the visitors who wanted to see Billy’s family and siblings, I wasn’t just a random niece amongst many as I’d expected; I was Ann’s daughter. “Ah, poor Ann…” *sympathetic head tilt*.

.

I wasn’t prepared for that. Repetition made it no less freaky.

I discovered that I could remember every step I took down the aisle behind her coffin, but had no idea of how many people we’d given soup and sandwiches to.

I looked round at all the white heads, and the ever expanding family (Who owns that baby? Which of the girls is that?). I spent some time with the eldest auntie and managed to upset her with the news that both my parents are dead. She wonders about her own parents, and her missing brothers and sisters. Her world is normally contented, but she’s very aware of, and regularly shaken by, the gaps at social events.

Auntie T gave me a photo- one where I’m very clearly being organised by Herself. She (Ah, poor Ann… *tilt*) is bright, colourful and telling me what to do. I’m dark haired (isn’t dye wonderful?), with the face that recognises that this is neither the first nor the last time she’d be knocking me into shape. I remember the event well- we were both happy and at one with the world, missing the old man, but powering on.

Herself &myself, August 1994

These white haired folk, they teach us so much. How to think of white heads and the bald ones up to divilment in the hereafter, together. How to take comfort. How to power on without them.

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17 thoughts on “the funeral ‘after’”

  1. The after funeral part can be great or awful, usually great I find. Just rotten that the one person who has brought you all there is missing. My mother is also Anne. Love the headtilt. It made me laugh. 🙂 Thanks.

  2. I do remember the head tilt Friends episode. I could easily picture your emotional recalibration following each comment from a well-meaning person. The photo is really beautiful. It says a lot about your relationship, and aptly explains the hole that’s left when someone beloved is gone. They are always missed. I unexpectedly “lost it” at a recent wedding when my aunt (gone 10 years) was referenced at the wedding of her grandson. For some reason the idea that this boy she loved was getting married and she wasn’t there hit me fresh. She was several years younger than my mother, and should have been there. As Kate said, weddings and funerals! oxo

  3. Not easy for you Fiona. I think once you lose your parents, every funeral is theirs. Hope you’re taking a wee pause before the powering on, which you do great anyway xx

  4. Beautiful photo, Speccy. I never know how to behave at funerals. I am either falling apart in a most unbecoming way, choking on the grief of it, fumbling in the dark. Or awkward. Off to the side. My mother’s daughter and all that connotes. The Quiet One. An Auntie Ancient, though, will always find me. One of my grandmother’s sisters or half-sisters or one of the dozens that were best friends of someone who became aunties by default and now none of us are entirely sure which are blood relatives and which ones were hired on. Anyway, one of them will find me and talk about quiet things. They do make it better. I hope that, when I am an Auntie Ancient, I will be able do the same. 🙂

  5. I like funerals when one comes away knowing more about a person then one did previously. And then I feel awkward and sad for not paying more attention, for not see them for what they are and who they are. We’re complicated, intricate beings. We look at the exterior and then think we know it all about a person. When in fact we know little. We don’t get the true portrait of the person till the stories and reminiscing begins.

  6. Interesting how we imagine we’re more dependent on people than we actually are. When Jenny’s dad died, we thought her mum would be quite helpless because he took care of so many things around the house. But in no time she was organising everything herself with amazing confidence.

    1. Ah now, if you want my full on in the middle of it late stages of illness, death and early bereavement stuff, you’ll have to go back a bit. Anything March -July 2011, tagged ‘herself’ I find quite hard to read now. A different world, captured as we lived it. What blogging is for 🙂

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