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.
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.