A few days ago, George and I went to a funeral in the cemetery we live next-door-but-one to.
Agnès, living between us and the gravestones, used to say how handy it was that when her husband departed she’d just pop him in a wheelbarrow and tip him over the wall.
Well, he did indeed go first and was tipped several years ago; last Wednesday was Agnès’s own turn. And though painfully moving, it was a funeral above all of Great Joy.
A long-time and beloved inhabitant of the village, Agnès drew a goodly crowd of mourners. We all stood shivering bleakly in the unseasonal icy wind, as the coffin was transferred from limousine to small table in a special space among the graves.
Then an employee of the funeral-arrangers read several speeches: ‘The children of Agnès wanted to say…’ , ‘The grandchildren of Agnès wanted to say…’.
Don’t know why the family didn’t read themselves, but maybe it is better to leave your words in the hands of someone who isn’t going to dissolve into a lump of Sodden Gaspings… (I don’t think people yonder round the coffin could hear me).
And they were beautifully read. (Although the fella in charge of the tape recorder added some unsettling Jerks to Edith Piaf).
The mourners then queued up to wind round the graves and past someone with a basket of rose petals. You pick up a petal, and take it to place on the coffin while saying a last goodbye. It’s a lovely idea…
At our previous funeral, we didn't understand Petal Procedure, and the dazzling sunshine and quick-march on that occasion stopped us from seeing what everyone else was doing. And we had to shuffle with our guilty slips of rose past a Guard of Honour (the defunct had been a high official).
Anyway, after placing Agnès's petals we all left, filing past the yawning family tomb where Hubert-from-the-wheelbarrow was waiting, and assembling to share nibbles and fond memories.
Our hamlet has had several terminal departures in the last few years, and the For Sale signs will bring in a whole new feel to the place. GONE the pensioners, Come the Parisian second-homers and maybe some young families.
I wonder who the Bijou close-to-grave amenities will appeal to.
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