Fathers and Funerals

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I’ve only ever been to one funeral… and I’ve only ever had one father too… there’s a link already… No. Seriously. Although I don’t really see my father now – second wife syndrome – we do exchange cards at Christmas and I do have some fond memories of him when I was younger.

I used to enjoy going out with him on his farm visits and seeing the different animals, I’ve seen quite a few lambings, calvings and foals being born … He always used to carry a roll of extra strong mints in the car and the challenge was to see how long I could keep a mint in my mouth without screaming and spitting it out…

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My partner and I moved to our current house in order to be near his parents, his father in particular, who was elderly and infirm. In due course, the expected happened, and this led to my first experience of a funeral. Admittedly, I found my partner’s father somewhat … challenging and we were never exactly… close, but I found the funeral both distressing and traumatic.

To begin with, there was a disagreement about cars, as to whether I warranted a place in the “daughter-in-laws” car since my partner and I are not married. Then, at the service, another section of his large, extended family arrived without invitation and tensions were evident…

The cemetery was cold and desolate. Windswept and stark. My nerves – never great – were shredded and I did not want to go and stand by the graveside. Instead, a neighbour and her daughter stood with me and we looked at the wreaths.

It just seemed wrong, somehow, leaving the old man there. Yet I have my own memory of him, that I am blessed with, that I chose to share with my partner to try and comfort him…

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He had left his father in his wheelchair, after his last stroke, by our pond to look at the fish, while he went inside with his mother to discuss something. His father didn’t know I was there, but I saw, I remember… my little dog, who was a bouncy, jumpy-up sort of dog, went quietly up to the old man and lifted her face up to him.

He laid his gnarled old hand on her head and patted her, a smile lighting up his face. Just that. A simple moment, but a little moment of joy that the old man and my little dog shared, a comfort and a knowing.

Later, the wake was pretty awful. Excess alcohol and tears, and, all in all, what the day left me with was an overwhelming memory of flowers and feuds…

In a conversation quite recently actually, with my partner, regarding funerals, I was taken aback with the Victorian relish he greeted this subject…

Oh yes, I want everybody in floods of tears. You have to wear black … and a hat… with a veil… “

Me: “ … ???…”

The Victorians, most notably the Queen herself, introduced the lugubrious practise of death-relish; the yards of black crepe, jet mourning jewellery, wearing full black mourning for years, the effigies, the elegies, the monuments, the mausoleums…

I can appreciate the comfort this may offer, but my partner declaring “I want everybody to be miserable because I’ve gone” is not for me.

I’ve planned my funeral. Not in the morbid sense and not because I intend dying any time soon … but because I would like it to be a celebration of Life left behind, and for people to remember me with laughter and love.

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To this effect… my funeral music – although I prefer “celebration” music will be “Always look on the bright side of Life”, from Monty Python’s “Life Of Brian” and José González’s “Step Outside”- a truly uplifting and beautiful piece of music. I don’t really want black to be worn, unless as a tasteful accessorising handbag perhaps. People can bring flowers, but take them home, don’t leave them to die, and I would like the poem “Do not stand at my grave and weep” by Mary Elizabeth Frye read out. It points out that death need not be the end… it is a transition… a becoming… a returning to Source.

I would like a selection of exotic teas to be offered to my guests… and cake. The most expensive, decadent, delicious cake that you wouldn’t ordinarily buy… And to end… “My Way.” By the Sex Pistols. Of course.

As that great comedian Tommy Cooper is reputed to have said: “Always leave ‘em laughing…”

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47 thoughts on “Fathers and Funerals

  1. I am so emotional one, so much… you expressed so nicely dear Samantha… touched my heart. and reminded me my father’s funeral and I was pregnant… I was in a dead silence…but soon my inner storm would break me down… It was not easy times for me… And I miss my father, so much…

    Life, for me, I mean the meaning of life, is to collect memories, or in other words, to build, to create, lo make good things, memories… because at the end, everything will be something like a story you did… you left. This is a part of the chain of the great humanity on this earth and in this universe…

    Thank you, rest in peace for them all…

    Love, nia

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Nia, lovely comment and I think you are so right, and thank you for sharing about your father too. It’s never easy, to lose someone, but we need to go forwards for those who are left.
      Life is just that, a collection of memories and we have to link the good ones with the bad and these links take us back into the past as well as forwards into the future too, as you say, we are all part of the great chain.
      lots of love to you 🙂 xxx

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Weddings and funerals – too many odd family members in close proximity!
    I’m happy that you witnessed your father-in-laws little moment of peace with your dog. After all, it is these memories of them that we will carry with us, not the funeral service.
    Like you, I prefer the Celebration of a Life, rather than Ashes to Ashes. Your plan sounds great. 🙂 At my funeral, my kids have been instructed that everyone has to down a shot of vodka! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly, it’s the memories, rather than the services…pleased you like my idea 🙂 When I was a student, there was a bar here that sold EVERY imaginable type of flavoured vodka, from jellybean to pepper…and being students I’m sure you can guess what we did next!
      Do you know…I think I’ve only ever been to one wedding as well!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It is nice to hear your perspective. Everyone seems to experience funerals in very different ways. A brilliant idea to post your wishes. That way its in writing for those to see, and no negotiating about that 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I like the sound of your funeral, if you see what I mean. Not any time soon, of course. I have also rejected the black clothing and want everyone to bring a balloon instead of flowers. Something about a load of balloons bobbing up and down amuses me. One bursting would be funny too! I have been to loads of funerals, sadly. It is usually the music that makes me cry. But at one crematorium the floor opened up and the coffin disappeared downwards. I was horrified. A bit too dramatic!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh dear…the floor opening is a bit symbolic…and scary actually! Music always makes me cry-the Jose Gonzalez song is beautiful. I first heard that when I went to the cinema to see “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”. My old cat was called Walter Mitty…lots of tears and no tissues..soggy sleeves…:)

      Liked by 1 person

  5. In Hong Kong, funerals are so boring… Seriously.

    When I die, I would prefer not to subject others to that kind of boringness if possible.

    In HK, funerals generally don’t have much music.

    If I can choose the music, I’d like songs such as Stayin’ Alive by Bee Gees or even the “Troll Song” if it’s still relevant during that time. (In fact, I have an entire playlist for that occasion.).

    And when they lower my casket, the Tetris theme should be playing in the background.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I’ve been to quite a few funerals. For the most part, they all followed roughly the same format, but several have stood out for a variety of reasons. You plan sounds like a very good one, It’s quite a loving thing that you’ve done, making your wishes clear.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. There is a lot to be said for avoiding arguments in the long run. My mum planned hers with the funeral director specifically so that no one could add their two cents\tuppence. I cannot begin to tell you how thankful I was she had had that foresight! And, you’d best face it, kiddo: those you leave behind will be sad. It’s only natural. At least they won’t be further aggrieved by silly nonsense. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I am sorry for your partner’s loss. This is a heartfelt honest and sincere share. I could almost see the little dog looking up at the old chappie and his smile.
    Life is each day closer to death. Life is indeed a day of looking back at the end of time to know one did not do harm to anyone and doing one’s best.
    Cheers to good memories and love your song choices….apt! Mine would be Staying Alive and Last Christmas plus disco hits of 80s and 90s! Garfield hugs Sam 💕💖💗

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Lol..”Staying Alive”-great choice! Thank you for your kind words too 🙂
      Love your sentence “one did not do harm…” such a wonderful philosophy to have, and one that I wholly approve of!
      Sam hugs to you and have a great Saturday 🙂 xxx

      Like

  8. So sorry for the loss of your partner’s father and it is nice you witnessed that moment between him and your dog. Most of the funerals I have been to were celebrations of the person’s life with a song playing that they loved and a request that people wear bright colours. It is good to make your wishes clear :o) xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It’s an out moded tradition, my father and mother did not have a funeral , they told us to just send them to the crematorium alone ,. We just celebrated their life quietly …..on our own . But we have always understood there is life after death and funerals are meaningless

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Such an interesting read…thank you so much for sharing your stories. Personally, I just want to be cremated and have my ashes spread somewhere useful…no memorials, etc. My parents are quite elderly and I think about coming sad times often.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh, how I love reading your posts 🙂
    I had bereavement counselling after my dad had died but still find the idea of being left behind terrifying. When I met my husband (well, he wasn’t my husband then, he was a ‘one night stand’ when we met) and things got more serious I remember assessing his ‘fitness and general health’ and asking questions about the life expectancy in his family…
    My funeral song is ‘Ain’t no sunshine’ by Bill Withers. I made my first Will when I was 16 and have never changed the song since. I find people’s funeral songs choices fascinating – it’s the last message to our friends, after all.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you and I’m always pleased you enjoy reading 🙂
      I really think my partner could have benefited from counselling to be honest,but when it’s time to go there is comfort to be found in feeling that you lived and loved as best you could 🙂
      Love your song choice too 🙂 xx

      Liked by 2 people

  12. I’m a fan of Jose Gonzalez, but I’m unfamiliar with his song “Step Out”. So I’m listening to it now as I type 🙂 Funerals are odd events. Full of sadness, yet at the same time I find comfort in them. I went to my mum’s friend’s funeral last week. We were all asked to wear an item of red clothing and I think we all found warmth in that. I also liked the song choices for her funeral. The song that was played at the end was another I hadn’t heard before, but I’ve since been exploring the artists’s music. It was Ode to Billie Joe by Bobby Gentry.

    Liked by 1 person

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