Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Halleluia

Dr P's funeral was held last Friday.

Because as a family we are not keen on pomp and circumstance, and because I like plain speaking, truth telling, honesty, facing facts, and evocative, expressive language which does honour and justice to reality, I wanted a plain and simple funeral service, with eloquent speakers. All these things we achieved.

Helping me with the arrangements with the funeral director were my second daughter and my second youngest sister. Two of Dr P's daughters also contributed. Fortunately we agreed on most things: a secular service, a plain coffin, flowers on the coffin but not elsewhere, the coffin being in place and not carried in, and no button-pushing or curtain covering at the conclusion. Dr P wanted to be cremated, but his ashes will not be scattered. The celebrant visited me to find out more about Dr P, and I set about choosing the funeral music.

Music is an essential part of my life, and Dr P was constantly bombarded with my choices, and he got to like quite a lot of it. Because I am a chorister, I do sing a great deal of sacred music, and when I am dead, I want some of it at my funeral. There was some debate about the musical choices, and a compromise was reached. I will say only that even atheists can display a remarkable degree of bigotry.

But most important was the choice of speakers. I chose his oldest friend (another doctor), a distinguished academic friend, and an eminent friend. His second daughter spoke last of all.

All spoke well, and truly evoked the man, his qualities, personality, achievements and warts. And all. One friend commented to me that she could see from those speeches why I fell for him. I first met him in 1970 and always liked him.

We had a good wake, at the house of true and good friends, and we organised and catered for it between ourselves. I believe in wakes: like funerals, they help people come to terms with the reality of death, with grieving and with acceptance. They are cathartic.

My sisters, daughters, son and friends were magnificent, and an enormous comfort and support to me.  Dr P got quite a good turnout, from all walks of life.

Some family had to leave that evening, but two sisters stayed on, as did my son, who stayed until Sunday, and did much to help me. He has untangled all my electric cables, and done many other filial things.

There is much to be done and I am working very hard at everything. I am sad, feel heavy and leaden, sick and tense, and somewhat beset by fate, circumstances, the step-family and the will.

But I know I did what should have been done, cared for him as best I could, met the challenges, and loved him, despite many things and vicissitudes. I hope I can continue to be resolute and honourable, and not lose myself. The next months will certainly be difficult, and not merely because of bereavement and grieving. My life will change, and not all choices will depend on my wishes and preferences.

Nonetheless, I have a sense, like the American slaves after emancipation, of being 'Free at Last'.

9 comments:

Stomper Girl said...

Hmm. What are you going to do with the ashes then? Keep him in the top drawer like my friend's mother did with her father's ashes?

Elisabeth said...

May you be free at last.

From previous visits here I gather it has not been one bit easy for you. And now peace at last.

Molly said...

May he rest in peace and may you enjoy peace of your own and your well deserved freedom. Sounds like a very gracious sendoff.....

Isabelle said...

I'm glad you at least feel free. Hopefully also of the WSDs, in due course?

I do hope things go well for you - as well as can be expected.

Frogdancer said...

Thinking of you.

Meggie said...

We held a wake for our mother, and in keeping with her wishes, it was at her home. Some did not approve. I could hear my mother snorting!
I do hope you can find peace and strength to do what you must.
I am so touched by your kind offer of help, in my crisis.
I have written you a reply. XX

persiflage said...

Thanks to all of you for your kind comments: they ease my heart as much as is possible at this stage.
And Stomper, Dr P is finally to be slotted into a niche....

rhubarbwhine said...

Thinking of you, and both of you in your freedom. Swings and roundabouts...

VioletSky said...

I hope that you can find a happy peace. Hang on to the good memories and smile a little.