Tag Archives: funerals

The Funeral

20 Jan

Yesterday was unusual. Not bad, not exceptionally good, just unusual.

I have not felt up to snuff the last couple of days. I’ve been very, very tired – a sort of “hitting the wall” exhaustion – and had a scratchy throat all day yesterday. This morning I have a full-fledged catarrh of the throat – swallowing hurts, my ears hurt, the whole nine yards. Today was the Annual Meeting at church, so I was just as glad to have a reason not to slog through the rain and wind.

The deceased and her mom had been estranged for many, many years, and even though the daughter had cancer they had never patched things up. When her wheelchair was pushed up to the coffin, Mom spent quite a while apologizing to her daughter. Public displays always make me “itchy” and while I certainly should have been more sympathetic, I couldn’t help wondering why all this wasn’t done when the poor girl was still alive. Cancer does give you plenty of time to set thing in order.

The fellow in front of us during the service played with his cell phone the entire time. Even when we all stood and put our hands over our hearts when the military Honor Guard  folded the flag and presented it to the wife, he didn’t get to his feet until his wife poked him, and only transferred his phone to the other hand so he could continue his texting.

I wonder why people like that even show up.

You know, every year, my Lenten discipline is to try to be less judgmental.  I am not making much progress.

The Nothing Burger

18 Jan

The forecast was for a “blockbuster” storm. When I stopped for a prescription last night I had to park on the lot across the street because the grocery store was mobbed.  As promised, the snow started falling a little after 7PM, but it was “puny”, to quote The Squire. When we went to bed a little after 10 it seemed to have stopped completely.

When I opened the shades this morning, the expression above popped into my head: A Nothing Burger. There wasn’t enough snow to even close the schools! Man, I can remember when I was in public high school having to wait one hour before trudging back home. The worst sound in the world was the clanking of the bus’s snow chains coming down Joppa Road – usually at the 55 minute mark!

We were also to have frigid temps, but it was 40° at 3PM. Maybe that’s frigid in Florida, but it certainly isn’t very cold in Maryland – especially in mid-January.

The daughter of one of our families died this past week, and the funeral is tomorrow. A lot of circumstances make this entire endeavor very tricky. The father is in a wheelchair and on oxygen, and the mother is in such bad shape – emotionally and physically – that the two sons don’t think she’s going to even make it to the service. We are allowing the viewing to be in the narthex – pretty much an absolute no-no in the Episcopal Church – before the service. The committal service will be read at the church door because neither of the parents can make it to the grave.

The mission is for the church to serve the people, not the other way around. My mum’s church only has Eucharist once a month, and I was absolutely livid when her minister refused to bring her communion when she was dying because it was “the wrong time of the month”.  And then, there’s that marvelous case where the Roman Church refused to allow a girl with severe celiac disease to use a rice wafer for Communion instead of the normal wheat.

A dear friend of ours moved to Colorado about thirty years ago, and I called him to let him know about this death; he was a long-time friend of the family. In the course of the conversation he told me he had what he called “a cancer”. He said he didn’t know exactly what sort it was, but he was not “pursuing” it, as he phrased it. He is in his mid-80s, and simply can’t see the point to dragging himself through all that mess.

Makes perfect sense to us. Give me pain meds, and leave me alone.

Could I Have a Do-Over?

17 Dec

The funeral we attended on Friday was for a long-time member of Resurrection, and a former Navy man. Considering all of the planning my dad did for his own funeral, it amazes – and dismays – me that he didn’t tell us of the services available to veterans.

He had pre-paid the undertaker, selected the hymns, told us who he wanted to officiate, and who he wanted to preach, but he never told us that he was eligible to have a free marker, a flag for his coffin, or a bugler to play Taps.  He did mention he wanted somebody to play Waltzing Matilda, but when I asked him how I was going to arranged that, he just smiled and said, “That’s your problem, not mine.”

I had some poor soul from the local high school, standing in the rain, with a clarinet!

My mum refused to have a marker put on his grave. “God will know where to find him when He wants him.” And she made it sound as if she meant if He wants him.  Daddy had been dead several years when a fellow who was a member of his old parish told me the VA would give us a marker, and got the papers for me.

When my grandfather died, my mum had some men from the VFW – I guess – give a 21 gun salute, but she didn’t mention that we could have done the same for her husband.


Maybe I’ll just get all of his friends and family and do it over. Maybe I’ll wait until the 20th anniversary. People renew their wedding vows all the time. Why not a funeral?

In Sickness and In Health

16 Dec

The surgery on The Squire’s shoulder took place on Thursday morning. We had to be at the hospital at 7AM, and he had to shower with surgical soap both Wednesday night and again Thursday morning, so we were up at 5:30 to accomplish all of this and still get out of the house by 6:30.

I stayed with him until they took him back to get him ready, and then went over to get some bloodwork of my own done. I’ve had the paperwork for almost a month, but I’ve been working and there’s no lab anywhere that I can hit on the way in.  Stopped for a bagel and coffee on the way back; I don’t do NPO very well. What with one thing and another, we didn’t get home until about 2 PM, and both of us just collapsed into bed.

Because he couldn’t drive, I was elected to go down to Panera and get the Dough-Nation for this week. What a haul! We are the only group that picks up at night, and the group that was supposed to come Thursday morning didn’t show, so we got a double batch! The girl kept bringing boxes, and bringing boxes, and bringing boxes. We filled the back of the van, and I ended up stacking some in the front seat. They were so heavy the buzzer went off, and I had to fasten the seal belt around them!  We had a funeral yesterday and I took over two huge boxes of bagels for the reception, and pressed them on everybody who was there. “Take some. No, I don’t care if you don’t need them! Take ’em. They freeze!”

So – back to The Squire. The poor man cannot use his right arm at all.   Fortunately, he is pretty much ambidextrous, so he’s not as bad as I’d be in the same situation; I something think I only have a right hand so I’ll have something to hold on to when I say my prayers!  There are a lot of things that need two hands, so I still have to help him put on his socks and arrange his sweater over his shoulders.

He’s been sleeping in the recliner, as the one thing he absolutely must NOT do is roll over onto his right side.  he had a bad night Thursday, but said he slept solidly last night. Things were pretty rocky on Friday, as he was in a LOT of pain, but he seemed to be feeling better today. Lortab every six hours and aspirin in between . The doctor said the “artificial” stuff – ibuprofen, etc. – are OK, but if he can tolerate aspirin, it’s really more effective at fighting inflammation.

I had asked Fr. B to bring him Communion tomorrow, but he says he wants to go to church. He needed a shirt large enough that he could slip his left arm into the sleeve and still button it across his front. Our friend Mac is a bit heftier than The Squire, so I trotted over and borrowed a dress shirt from him. I don’t think The Squire hasn’t worn a “real” shirt since my mum’s funeral.

It is good to have such wonderful friends! They came and fed the critters when we were on vacation, helped us with the shop vac when the dishwasher over flowed, and now literally giving us the shirt off their back!


Another Day, Another Funeral

23 Oct

Really, we have to stop this business.

Yesterday, we had a funeral at our church for the son of one of our members. Tony had moved away, but his mum wanted him buried here, and so we did. Since we no longer have a rector, a former priest was called in, at the family’s request.  Fr. Al has become very frail in the last six years, and it was painful to watch, but he soldiered on, and seemed to enjoy visiting old friends.

Today, we came home after service, grabbed some lunch and then galloped off to the memorial service for an old friend. Fr. Eads was a close friend of my dad’s, and the priest who baptized The Squire and then married the two of us. He was 82, and had retired in 1989, after serving Christ Church for forty years.  An entire generation at the same church, and many of his former parishioners were in attendance.

I got a chuckle from the acolyte. When the service was over, she extinguished the candles, and then pulled out the skirt of her cassock, put one foot behind her, and dropped a curtsey at the altar.

My dad had always wanted to be a priest, and had joined the Navy when he was a young man, as they had promised to send him to seminary to be a chaplain. When WWII broke out, they needed him for other things, and by then he was married to my Lutheran-by-Gum mother, and although he was very active in the church, he never made it to seminary. It was Fr. Eads, the rector at Christ Church, who convinced him he could finally realize his dreams and set Daddy on the road to Sewanee.  He was one of our favorite people. And I know my dad was glad to see him.



And So It Begins

22 Jan

It was cloudy this morning, but unless you’d been following the weather reports, nothing unusual. Except that the squirrels were out in force, scouring the ground for every possible shred of food.  There are eight in this picture, plus three more in the tree.


Chowing Down

And this fellow, trying to empty the “Squirrel Proof” bird feeder. We went up to the Y after breakfast, and when we came home, the feeder had been unscrewed – again – and was on the ground. The little buggers jump up onto the suet feeder and scamper across the top, then hang upside down and shovel the seed onto the ground.


Squirrel Guard? What’s that?

It started to snow about 4 PM, and is supposed to continue for the next 24 hours, at least. Church has already been cancelled, and since our policy is to remain closed when Harford County school are shut down, we may not even have service on Tuesday evening.

We were supposed to go to a viewing tomorrow evening and a funeral on Sunday, but both of those have been pushed back a day, with a suggestion we call to double check before we sally forth.


20 Jan

Depending upon whom you ask, and when, we are supposed to get anywhere from a dusting of snow to two feet, anywhere from Friday morning to all day Saturday.

I had to run to the store today for a prescription and you’d have thought it was Black Friday. What is it with snow storms and toilet paper? And people renting more movies than they could watch in a month, for a one or two day “snow in”? And if the power goes out, those movies aren’t going to do much good, any way.

A  gal who used to work with The Squire died on the 17th. The viewing is Saturday evening, and the funeral is on Sunday (never heard of such a thing, to quote the Late and Unlamented) so we shall have to make every effort to get to one or the other – or both. She and her husband  did not use the same name, and we only discovered by one of those crazy flukes that I worked with him at the same time she was working with The Squire.

Speaking of working – I worked Monday and Tuesday (yesterday) at BD. The Squire fixed dinner for us both nights. Chicken Marsala on Monday, and last night was a vegetarian stew; he found the recipe on line last year and it’s his go-to for his night to cook. Purchased the ingredients when he went to the Y, and had it ready to put on the table when I got home. After we ate we decided to run up and get the laundry out of the way and swing into Aldi’s for a few perishables such as milk and eggs.

Our kitchen door has always leaked cold air. The house is in constant motion from the ground settling and even though we replace the weather stripping every winter, the shrinkage from the dry winter air and the movement of the building means the door is about as airtight as an orange crate. Many years ago I purchased a pair of cotton duck, tab top, curtains and a tension rod to put over the door. We lay the curtains on top of each other and then run the rod through both sets of tabs, so we have a double thickness of heavy fabric. Last night, the spring broke in the tension rod.

Fortunately, The Squire remembered we had some hooks that clipped onto the rails of the suspended ceiling, so between those and an old broom handle we got the blasted curtains up. The cat tries his best to refuse to use the front door (“We’ve never done it that way before!” You’d think he was an Episcopalian – or a Lutheran.) but Blazer is up for whatever involves going out. Besides, if he’s in the living room, there’s a chance he can sneak into Poppa’s chair for a quick nap. He still hasn’t completely reconciled himself to sleeping in a dog bed on the floor. (“You think I’m some sort of animal, or something?”)

After the curtain fiasco, I went to put the soup pot on the porch and didn’t bother to turn on the dining room lights. I hadn’t finished my drink at supper and when I sat the pot on the table so I could open the door I knocked over the glass. We have a plastic tablecloth, so I had to run and get a bath towel to clean the table, the chairs, and the rug. It’s amazing how much space a small amount of liquid can cover. Finally got the pot on the front porch and managed to break a finger nail as I came back inside, just to add insult to injury.


The Trouble With Getting Old…

23 Apr

…is that you spend all of your spare time going to funerals.

Tuesday, I attended the service for a woman who died at 94; she was born the same year as my mother.  This morning, it was a fellow who was part of my teen years “gang”. He was two years older than I, and I had gone to high school with his wife. Unsettling, to say the least.

Speaking of unsettling – Mrs. G’s coffin was covered with a pall decorated with brilliant rainbow stripes. When my startled eyes sought out the rector I saw she was wearing a stole with the same rainbow – and butterflies.

It was the Crusillo emblem, which is an Episcopal charismatic group, not Gay Pride.  Although as open minded as Eleanor was, it wouldn’t have surprised me.

It’s Your Funeral

6 Feb

About a week ago, a lady stopped at our parish office to ask if it would be possible to use our sanctuary for her son’s funeral.  She goes to a very small church, and she knew there wouldn’t be space for all of the people she expected. She’d come to other funerals here, thought our building was “simply lovely” and hoped we would allow this.  She promised that things would be left exactly as they found them.  “Done in a neat and orderly fashion”, as she put it. After a quick discussion with Fr. M, Mrs. Johnson, and her pastor, it was decided that it wouldn’t be a problem. The Squire and I met with them at our church on Saturday evening so they could see what we had and how things were laid out.

A few surprises – they are Methodist, but wanted an open coffin in the church, and the visitation would be immediately before the service.  While The Squire and I were standing around, I happened to notice that the ladies on Altar Duty for February had not done anything so I grabbed the step stool and he got the number box, and while they were deciding where things were to go, we set up the hymns for the next morning. I got the Communion ware in order and put it on the altar for early service and left things ready to be taken up for the late service. When I mentioned this kerfuffle on Sunday morning to one of the two people on duty for February she was very surprised to learn she was “on” (do you read the newsletter?) and also very grateful for our help.

The weather has been so unsettled that after the Tuesday night service we changed the frontal from green to white, rather than wait until Wednesday morning. Good thing, as we had yet another ice storm Tuesday night.

The Squire and I were over at church at 8:30 today to open up, and just hold doors and point the way to the rest rooms (we really need to put a run of blue painter’s tape from the sanctuary doors because the place is like a rabbit warren; turn left at the blue door, then right at the double doors…) and generally do whatever we could to make life easier for the family. One thing we learned today is that if we ever again have this sort of crowd, we really need to have traffic control.  Our parking lot is large enough for the regular Sunday congregation, but we have a three acre field beyond it which is used for overflow parking. The Squire had opened the gate and he and I had parked our cars out there, just to get the ball rolling. At some point before the service started, someone had driven out into the field, turned around and driven back, and parked with their car nosed into the entrance, totally blocking it. The next two cars had parked side by side at the end of the lot, completely grid-locking the entire parking lot.  We noted the colors and makes of the cars and the pastor announced them, so we had a fellow out there helping these folks to gee and haw until we got things straight.

A bit after the service started, four young men – about twelve years old – came out into the narthex, looking totally bored. They’d had to give up their seats and didn’t feel like standing around in the back of the church. The Squire got out a chess set, and the four of them started a game. Well, two boys started to play and the other two, who belonged to a chess club at school, kibbitzed. Every time one of the players would make a move, these two fellows would inhale, gasp, shudder, and just about sit on their hands to avoid grabbing a chess piece and making the move themselves.

When the service was over, The Squire and I were astounded that people swarmed out ahead of the coffin, but it turned out there was a perfectly reasonable explanation. Visitors were going up the side aisle to pay their respects and then returning by the center aisle. When we ran out of seating space, their ushers had put up folding chairs down the center aisle and those chairs had to be removed to make room for the body to be brought out of the building.

Several people thanked us profusely for the use of the building, told us how lovely it was, and asked if I was the “pastor”. I told them No, I am a preacher’s kid and a teacher, and just “look terribly important”.

Sing an old Song

2 Jan

If I don’t post before 7 PM, things show up as tomorrow, instead of today.

Off to a funeral this morning for the husband of an old friend. This was a case of death really being a blessing, with even the deceased asking the doctors to stop poking and prodding and let him go home to die.( A friend says I attend more funerals than anybody she knows, but she’s not as old as I am.) I am a vegetarian, so it was slim pickings at the reception. I don’t expect the world to revolve around me, but there’s usually a cheese tray, at the very least. How much protein is in a cannoli?

As long as I’m out, might as well make a day of it. Stopped to buy bird seed, and ran up to Eldest Daughter’s home to trade some stuff around. They have a burglar alarm, but haven’t used it in years, and I had no recollection of the code. Finally found Granddaughter’s phone number and called her at work to ask how to turn off the bloody alarm, with it wa-wa-wa-ing in my ear. Sure sounded good when it stopped, I’ll tell you that!  “Is this thing connected to the police?” “No, it’s just there to scare you. How’s it working?” Just fiiiine, thank you very much.

Returned some books to the library, and – of course – came out with more than I took in. At some point, I’m going to simply set up a cot in the back room and be done with it. Swung by my BFF to return a handicapped bathroom seat the Godson’s mother had borrowed, had a cheese sandwich and a cuppa, and we solved most of the world’s problems in the two hours I was there.

One more stop to drop off the vases at the florist for church, and then grabbed a cup of decadent coffee at Sheetz. Really, they have The Best coffee, and it’s only a dollar for a small one, if you have a card.

When I finally got home, I filled in The Squire on my day, and then couldn’t find the book I had brought out of the car. “I saw you with the coffee. Are you sure you didn’t drink the book?”

When I was a kid, there was a fairly popular song:

I walked up the door, and opened the stairs,
Said my pajamas and put on my prayers.
Turned off the bed, and climbed into the light.
And all because you kissed me Good Night.


They just don’t write songs like that any more, and it will be running through my head all night, now.