So sorry to hear about your mum, Joe.
It is proper for your parents to die before you and you to die before your children; it is when this is upset that things get really difficult
When my father died, three of us were sitting there, waiting. Fairly relaxed about the process, he hadn't been happy about losing his abilities and had wished for what was finally happening
His breathing got slower, the pauses longer
Now in explanation I must say we were all of rural upbringing.
When a lamb is born and does seem to want to start breathing, there is a way of touching it that often triggers the breath reflex
So yes someone (me) reached over and gave him the touch, it worked but we didn't do it the next time he slowed down
We treated his funeral as a time to celebrate his rather extortionary life, as most lives are
(My partner apparently spent the entire service watching to see Bear didn’t catch fire.)
Aww, no fun. A Viking farewell by teddy bear is just the leaven of chaos I'd like for my final bow.
Then we girls stood by the hearse with baskets of flowers from Mum’s garden so people could put a flower on the coffin and take a moment to say goodbye.
Everyone gets caught by some moment in this thread. I was OK up until this. That's lovely. My condolences Emma.
Sorry to hear about your Mum Joe. It's the not being able to talk to people that always gets me (proven by the fact that I'm sniffling as I write this).
It took me several years before I stopped, on the point of picking up the phone, thinking of giving a quick ring....
It’s the not being able to talk to people that always gets me . . .
Thanks Lara (and Jacqui, Sacha, recordari & Jackie). We figured that my niece should be the first to speak at my Mum’s send-off, as she’s an accomplished actor with real stage experience, and we might take our cues from her anticipated polished delivery. Instead she could barely manage her prepared speech, and was reduced to shedding real public tears for her lost granny. All the more moving for being so unexpected.
It took me several years before I stopped, on the point of picking up the phone, thinking of giving a quick ring….
When someone goes slowly with time to say goodbye I guess you think that you’ve dealt with it. It’s two months today and yes, only this morning I had to remind myself that I wouldn’t be sharing a certain joke with her. Clunk.
Thanks Emma, anyone who can be trusted like that with a teddy bear is a real treasure.
Condolences to the both of you Emma and Joe.
What better eulogy could anyone wish for. Emma, that was lovely. My sincerest condolences to you and everyone who knew your mum and loved her.
As my parents get older and frailer I know how my mother felt when I was a teenager and I went out with friends. When the phone rings and it is mum or dad calling I have a little shiver worrying that something has happened. I've told them to never leave a message on my cell phone, unless it is important. My phone knows that they called and if they leave a message I get a bit panicky. (Until I hear the message, which is usually my Dad saying, "oh I'm not supposed to leave a message" or similar.)
When my father-in-law died I was joining the rest of the family late. When I arrived at LAX he was alive, several hours later when I flew in to JFK he was gone. Literally. He had died and his body had been removed from the house along with much of the cancer patient paraphernalia. It was spooky. He wasn't even at a funeral parlour. A jar of ashes was delivered to the house and taken to his memorial service a week later for burying at their church. It was the right thing for his closest family but it was so unlike anything in my experience I was slightly at sea at how to deal with his death, and disappearance.
Reminded me of my dad's funeral (April last year), my 6-year-old niece was determined to read out few words she wrote down about her granddad and how she'd miss him. She seemed to be handling things pretty well, but there was still a suspicion she might change her mind when it came to the crunch, but no, she got up in front of everyone to have her say. She got to the podium and took her place behind it - and couldn't be seen. So an older niece and the celebrant got something for her to stand on, and we could just see the top of her blond-haired head. This all caused a few laughs. She pressed ahead and started reading her speech: it started well, then came the squeaky voice, then she she lost it and gushed tears. The other niece held it together, stood next to her and finished the reading, then helped her from the stage. It was extraordinarily moving, and even the celebrant looked close to tears.
I feel it most when I’m in the garden. I stopped out there the other day: moving, thinking, everything. I only realised because a spider spun a web on me.
Hope this isn't inappropriate, but that bit made me laugh.
Very moving piece Emma. My condolences to you, and to Joe.
Thank you so much for sharing emma, i just couldn;t even imagine being able to put words to things at this point. But is sounded like you gave your mum what she needed, and now you need to take time and give yourself what you need
and oh decorating the coffin, for some reason I decided flowers were not enough for dad, so i hunted out his favourite teddy bear, a cricket ball, some seed potatos (jersey binnies of course) and some flax flowers. Dad went out to la marseillaise for 2 reasons, it was a bit of a tune w=he liked and he knew it would confuse everyone
What a beautiful, stunning tribute. I'm crying at work and sending love your way.
Dad went out to la marseillaise for 2 reasons, it was a bit of a tune w=he liked and he knew it would confuse everyone
I've always threatened to send my Dad out to The Gambler. It's become such a thing that I may have to do it now.
Of course, I also said I would have my parents cremated and keep them in Marmite jars on my mantelpiece. I don't have a mantelpiece, so i won't be able to do that. Plus, OMG, CREEPY.
I’ve always threatened to send my Dad out to The Gambler
I've looked, in vain, for this song mentioned previously in the thread, but it's not there. I know Kenny Rodgers sang it at his recent concert, but I've also seen it mentioned, somewhere , as the song somebody wanted played as their coffin was carried out of a service. Did I dream it?
Is it this one?
No. I'm a recent poster to this blog, and before that I was a lurker, but four years ago? Far too much of a computer scaredy-cat to hit "comments". (I used to read "Hard News" all the time, though.)
It's possible it's there, I just did a quick search.
But even if it is there, I wouldn't have ever seen it.
It's more recent than that, anyway.
ETA: Unless you mean it was in Russell's post. But the above still applies....
Of course, I also said I would have my parents cremated and keep them in Marmite jars on my mantelpiece. I don’t have a mantelpiece, so i won’t be able to do that. Plus, OMG, CREEPY.
We had my Dad's ashes on Mum's mantelpiece in their plastic urn thingy for a few years. When we had family lunches, they would be put in the middle of the table. All of this was because we couldn't decide what to do with them. We planted trees on Mum's property, and all scattered some in the holes; some were scattered at the mouth of the Mahurangi River; some were scattered up at Mum and Dad's old farm; and some were scattered across the America's Cup start line in Valencia. And all the while, the urn sat on the mantelpiece, until there were no ashes left. He always did get around, my Dad.
When my much-loved* neighbour Bill Minehan died in 1996, he came back home after the embalming. He lay in a coffin for 2 days – that coffin built by a very local carpenter (one of my more weird pieces of knowledge is how to measure a body for a coffin, and so Ian did it to my directions) out of wood (rimu) Bill had felled, rough-sawn, and dried himself. And the coffin-handles were beautifully-worked rope & knots by another neighbour, ex merchant navy & oilrig worker.
Over the 2 days before the funeral (held at Ross where Bill had been born, 72 years before) hordes of people came in to pay respects, share a drink, reminesce – and pop things in the coffin. His favourite adjustable mini-spanner was already in his pocket, but other tools, a VW insignia, and lots of lollies(he was famously sweet-toothed), coins (a lot of Coasters toss a $2 coin (because of the kotuku) into the grave, but Bill had a quantity in with him) and a heap of cigarettes (what killed him…) 2 of us also put in lighters-
Bill died the day after his 72nd birthday: he had had a triple-bypass a year or so earlier, but was back to his kind of normal – helping everyone, being his twinkly
cynical self. He had started welding a new bumperbar onto his Holden when he must’ve felt strange, because one of his daughters found him lying on the sofa with the ’phone against his chest in the mid-afternoon.
I really enjoyed his 72nd party – Bill told stories I’d never heard him tell before (and he was a real raconteur, as so many Coasters of his generation were)- and we all went home happy & smiling.
The next night, his partner, and family, and self, concentrated on getting the priest drunk.
And 3 days later, I read Bill’s favourite poem at the initial (& most important for most of us locals and all his friends who had journeyed to Big O) service, which ends
“and have touched the face of God.”
He was also a pilot…
Then his coffin was loaded onto the back of the Holden ute (you bet the bumper bar was now A-OK) and he was driven off to Ross and burial.
* Bill – William Patrick Clifford James Minehan, frequently called WP – was a very popular warden of the YHA here, and had literal fan clubs in Cologne and Berlin.
O, and what started my last post off-
WP played rinkydink piano, and there were lots of singsongs nextdoor over the 20 years he was my neighbour. His favourite was "The Gambler"
"You gotta know when to hold 'em
know when to fold 'em
know when to walk away and
know when to run-
you never count your money
when you're sitting at the table-
time enough for counting
when the dealing's done-
Sometime in the darkness,
the gambler he broke even-"
At least, that's what I recall us all singing as Bill's goodbye hymn, at Big O...
Sorry I missed this from earlier Emma. Me sad too.
It's a bugger we only ever have one Mum.
Kia Kaha, Emma. Thank you for sharing.
So about 2 hours ago someone I cared deeply for died in my arms. Pretty much alone - still - in a strange country, fate - or maybe the mixture of Scotch and Valium I've been downing since - brought me here.
And suddenly the uncomprehending emotiveness and the forgetfulness that they're no longer there - even this soon after the event - crystralised beautifully.
Thanks Emma, for the strength I'm finding in your strength. Kia kaha.
Thanks for coming here, Rex. Glad it helped. Kia kaha.