We had a “good” day today, sorted out a ton of stuff. The Funeral. The Wake. The Flowers. The Service. A close family friend, “B” the funeral director, came round this morning all sombre and decisive. Helping to advise yet another one of his friends how to bury or burn their loved ones, also one of his friends. People he’d sat opposite at restaurants, folk he’d gambled with at the horse races and men he’d drunk whiskey with in shadowy Masonic lodges. B only uses his surname in this situation, no Mr!
But this was not the time to be judgemental, “B” was here to help Mum and I tick off the ever growing tasks from the now bulging list which will soon require rewriting, on A4. So the funeral was discussed, and Mum decided on Hymns, always dreary, no matter what is chosen, they always linger on, mumbled quieter and quieter, until the squeaking of the church pews and the coughing of children drowns out the choral die hards. Readings, this time not passages from the bible, but poems, stolen from one of the pages of what looks like hundreds of funeral booklets, mainly the product of googling “best funeral poems” or for those without google, sifting through other peoples orders of service. Its a really sad process, devoid of much joy from where i’m sitting. One of my Dad’s mates; Uncle K, is doing the eulogy, he’s a good bloke, silver haired and quite the golfer, or he was, but now alas he’s joined the shrinking army of parental friends, the lost now commemorated in the passages in the pages tied up with a rubber band. “He’s really deaf” explains my really deaf Mum after a conversation of volume louder than the telly, well over 100! Neither of them really got their point across, I’m not sure Mum knew wether the other had committed and the Jury’s out on wether K, the Eulogist is quite sure of when he’s got to turn up. It was decided before I went to bed that I should call up again tomorrow and try and speak to his wife. I’ll be writing something and reading that out somehow, and will probably be Uncle K’s support act, we’ll see how that goes.
We’ve selected some good photos for the order of service, one of which I’m going to have to scan somehow, this house is stuck firmly in the 80’s, and a small wooden chest where Dad’s remains will be stored, “The Dorchester”, not the hotel, thats the name of the box. After committing £145 on that, it was made clear that B would take the remains away and store them for Mum, in a box that we’ve paid for, which I thought it looked rather splendid, and would be a lovely addition to the sitting room, unless someone opens it looking for a cigar. B advised us on the cheapest coffin, as it was only going to get burnt anyway and i’ve seen a few folk recently with that type of beech coloured coffin, looks very smart, in a kind of “not really knowing how anything is meant to look type way” so that’s that box ticked.
Did anyone want to see Dad in the chapel of rest before the funeral? I think I want to but wondered how that would work after 2 weeks in a fridge and so it was suggested that they would embalm and dress, which drew a blank from me, turns out tomorrow we’ve got to choose Dad a change of clothes. The choice for me was simple, either a shirt, tie and v-neck jumper, smart but casual, classier than Partridge, and less dressy than Anchorman, comfortable, which is what my Dad was very good at being; he was a comfortable man. The other choice was rough gardener; he loved his garden and his gardening clothes were more than a match for any road travelling tinker of the 1930’s. I gave him lots of my older work jackets which he ripped to shreds by leaning into the brambly hedges with his left arm and reaching to cut the hedge with his right, since his first stroke 24 years back he couldn’t feel his left arm, great when hedging, less so when driving! So it was decided that “he should go to meet his maker looking smart just in case anyone important was up there” (Thats what Mum said, which I quite like but don’t believe at all).
Its very much tradition all the way with this funeral, so I thought if it would be worth taking the plunge into something slightly more contemporary and play something modern like “moonlight sonata” as we left the church? “We’re not having Pop Music” said Mum, and that was that. Nimrod it is then, thank you Elgar. And with that it was all pretty much done, the car will come to pick us, the immediate family up from the home and we will be slowly driven out from the village down towards Great Glen with someone in black walking in front of the hearse, not sure how we feel about that, not sure how we feel about anything really, its all a bit of a peculiar time and because of B’s stoicism and professionalism we breezed through the arrangements.
The “Best” funeral I’ve been to was my Best mate about 22 years ago, but i wouldn’t say I enjoyed it by any stretch of the imagination, I don’t think they’re meant to be enjoyed really… But i’ll be doing my small reading, and hopefully i’ll do my Dad proud, i’m struggling to see how I can avoid mentioning the Ashes cricket without trying for a cheap laugh…
Speaking of which I’m getting off to listen to the first few overs.