Wednesday, May 10, 2006

First Funerals

Funerals are strange, especially your first. Over the past few weeks some of the young people of the club have been to their first funeral and they said it was strange.

We go to these places that we have never been before to say goodbye to our loved ones in ways we have never experienced before. Because of convention, traditon or our beliefs...we follow rituals to help with our grief, start the healing and to celebrate their lives.

Elvis Presley was the first person to die that made me cry. I had had pets die but we buried them in the garden or they went to the vet and never came back. I remember my mum, eyes wet with tears, waking me at night to tell me. I never got to go to his funeral but we watched it on TV.

The first funerals I went to; one I spent crying hysterically and the other I spent laughing hysterically. They were both grandfathers and died hardly a year apart.

My first experience, though of 'real live' death was my Granda Tom's who we stayed with in Kerry while alive and dead. Alive he slept upstairs in pyjamas in a bedroom that smelt of cigarettes and Vicks Vaporub. Dead he slept downstairs in a suit in a living room that smelt of candles and Christmas. That seemed odd to me.

I wrote a poem about his death for the school magazine.

Peacefully Within

We went in through the open door into the dark and quiet
And all we saw in that little room was his face in candle light.
He looked a man who did it well with neither pain nor moan,
But who's to say there wasn't grief for his wife is now alone.

I couldn't bear, seeing him there, remembering him so full of life,
So I continued on down the hall with pain that pierced like a knife,
Ne'er will I forget his wrinkled face and look of peacefulness
And that my heart it did touch and my soul it did caress.

Each time I passed the open door n'er would I look in
For life was going on all around and death lay peacefully within

The day of the funeral the town walked with us to the cemetry. My aunt put her weadding bouquet on the grave. I returned next to the grave about 20 years later when my Nan was buried there. They were together.

They were Rosaleen and Tom, just as I and my partner are. When they married Tom gave Rosaleen a silver coin dated 1888, which was given to me to mark the birth of my daughter in 1988 on Rosaleen's birthday. Lives don't just entwine because of names and dates but because of the value we give those labels. Just as the value we place on rituals such as the funeral.

I would like freisias and fireworks at mine. Scent, sound and light in the darkness of the night. Put me, shrouded, on a little wooden boat and set me alight and push me out to sea. That's what I would have done for my Grandfather. Thats how I would have said 'Goodbye'.


At 26/5/08 3:56 pm, Blogger BizzyLizzy said...

It brings back memories of that day in Castleisland, and many others. The smell of their bedroom so aptly described.


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