April 10, 2007
Importance of Funerals
I am in the process of transferring a blog from a former site. I wrote this in March 2004; I left it as is, so as not to detract from the immediacy of it.
I haven't written this week. My uncle/godfather died and I was busy with wakes, funerals, memories. When I was younger, I was freaked out by funerals. Now I welcome the opportunity to see aunts, uncles, cousins I see too rarely. My uncle was 87, had been sick for a long time. He died peacefully, telling his family he "was going to see his bride," his wife who died ten years ago. So his funeral was more a mellow celebration of his life, very different from the wrenching heartbreak of four years ago, when my 64-year-old uncle succumbed to a four-month battle with cancer. Uncle Jim's four children and twelve grandchildren were all there. I feel strongly that people should go to their grandparents', aunts' and uncles' funerals. Two of my cousins brought their four month and seven month babies, which added to the celebration of my uncle's life.
My cousin, Jim's oldest son, gave a touching eulogy. I particularly liked this: "I would argue that Dad's secret was that he knew how to like people. There may be someone in this world who has met my father and who does not like him. However, with absolulute certainty, I can tell you that there is no one, whom my father has met, in whom my father did not immediately see the good and with whom my father would not immediately share his humor....Everyone who came into his presence met a warm smiling face and a friendly voice, which comjunicated immediately that one was accepted and loved."
My uncle was a wonderful storyteller who loved telling jokes. My cousin concluded: "I hope God likes to listen to jokes." My mother died three weeks after her older brother. We wondered if she liked Jim's jokes that much! It was the last time her brothers, nieces, and nephews saw her. She was in good form, admiring the family babies, obviously happy to see everyone. If her family had missed seeing her that last time, they would have always regretted it.