Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Such is Life...

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.


Expat said...

Oh, Dolores! What imagery your blog conjures up. Last year, we said a final farewell to my Mother at the grand old age of almost 96. At the graveside, the family each took a red rose and tossed it onto the coffin and told her how much we loved her. Heart-wrenching and cleansing at the same time.

Jon said...

A lovely account Dolores. Personally I see no issue with living next door to a cemetary. Nice, quiet neighbours and all that, but I know people do.

On the other hand they would have you and George on the other side, so that would be a huge bonus.

Dolores Doolittle said...

Hi Expat - yes, I remember your very special-sounding mum departing, and I hope my imbecilic post wasn't too insensitive.

I don't believe in any god beings, but I do like to think of my mum floating round us with her wry grin. You too, Expat, or not?

On my birthday after she'd died, I noticed the picture mum had once given us was bizarrely Skew-wiff on the wall. (I'm jolly glad she didn't blow the candles out)...

Dolores Doolittle said...

Hi Jon - thankee greatly. And a moment's thought for your lovely bother, no longer with us...

In fact George's cajun wails on the accordeon could be the perfect accompaniment to Halloween in the graveyard. Our impending new neighbours would probably have to be cajun themselves to appreciate it...

Canary Islander said...

Hello Dolores!

I’ve got a BTL apartment with a front door that directly faces a graveyard. The front door is the only door at the rear of the apartment block, and is well hidden from general view. So it is definitely not for those of a nervous or superstitious disposition.

Over the years, the apartment has had a succession of tenants, all of whom have been young, single and female. So I’m beginning to think that the fair sex doesn’t scare easily.

It’s either that, or my lingering pheromones....

PS. Here’s an amusing epitaph:

Once I wasn’t
Then I was
Now I ain’t again.

Dolores Doolittle said...

Like the epitaph, CI. What Is a BTL variety of apartment? And do you know the circumstances surrounding the departures of all the Young, Single & Females? It could perhaps be connected to serial scary phantom appearances....

(No you're right - it's bound to be the tenacious lingering of your pheromones)!

Canary Islander said...

Dolores, a BTL is a Buy-to-Let property, but there are those who think of it as a
Bacon-Tomato-Lettuce sandwich.

Did you know that when the Earl of Sandwich died, he was buried between two others?

JW10 said...

Hello Dolores,

A very nice and warm post. Funerals are always a difficult subject matter.

I have not thought much about my dreaded day of departure, when I do speak of it, I tell all my friends/family to have a good time and remember all the laughs we've had. While they're having a ball I'll be pleading with St. Peter to let me in the Gates of Heaven.

"Come on, I'm not underage! Look, I've got my birth certificate here with me."
The Saintly reply will be.
"This isn't a pub, you know."

Jon said...

Thank you Dolores.

Dolores Doolittle said...

Ah-hah, CI - it did conjure up snacky images, and I'd never have thought of anything business.

If Only the Earl's end really could have been so comfortingly delicious!

Dolores Doolittle said...

Thank you, youthful JW. Yes, I agree a party of some ilk would be a good send-off... perhaps a chocolate fountain with buckets of champagne and Roxy Music.

Or a fancy dress, themed What Lies Beyond... Would heaven be the wisest choice...? I'd go wherever the Liquorice Allsorts were

JW10 said...

Youthful? Thank you, Dolores, you have made my day/century/millennium etc.

Recently I read about a funeral in America where the deceased was buried in a Kiss (US rock group) coffin and it was a Kiss-themed burial: make-up, long tongue posturing etc. Looking far into the future I hope, I must have a Queen (UK rock group) coffin for my leaving party. Are there any handy carpenters on this site that you know? :-)

Dolores Doolittle said...

JW, I think that's a brilliant idea, a Queen-themed ending. A Rocky Horror funeral would be great too. We once had a terrific party with numerous Frank'n'Furters, RiffRaffs etc against creepy sound effects & cobwebs & the like.

Have you seen Rocky Horror at the pictures or a theatre? Amazing how everyone loses their what-to-wear inhibitions...
Tricky on the tube afterwards though.

Expat said...

Dearest Friends: There is never a good moment for this, but this particular blog seems timely in a wierd kind of way. I am embarking on a journey so my visits with you may be sporadic for a whle. I have breast cancer. It's early stage but nevertheless there will be surgery and treatment involved. Thank heavens I am here in the USA and not at the mercy of the National Health. Keep me in your thoughts. I will stop by when I can. I love you all.

Dolores Doolittle said...

Bloody hell, Expat - I'm horrified to hear that.

If anyone can be courageous at such a time, it's you, and if heartfelt loving thoughts can top up the brilliant treatment you'll receive over there, then you have those in abundance.

There's no doubt we'll all be with you in spirit. Thank you for telling us, and please let us know how you are when you can.

Lots & lots of love, and a speedy return to full dazzling health to you

JW10 said...

Hello Expat,

I'm sorry to hear this and my thoughts go out to you. I can only echo Dolores' words.

Best wishes to you.


Expat said...

Thank you for your good thoughts. This is a journey. There will be mountains I must climb, but climb then I will. I will be back in good health sdown the road.

Back on topic...Dolores, I am reminded of my late mother-in-law who ran a small private nursing home for the very elderly. They stayed with her until the end. The property next door was purchased by a funeral home. She used to joke that a chute from her second floor window to the embalming parlour would be just the thing!

Dolores Doolittle said...

'Climb them I Will' - there's no doubt of that Expat - you Exude Formidableness in your Resolve!

Please, Expat, keep us informed when you can of the Downs as well as the Ups - all we can do is run alongside you, but we'll be spiritually wafting like mad when things get hot.

As for your mother-in-law - I Love Her!

Canary Islander said...

Expat, my heartfelt sympathy!

But you’ll come through this worrying time in good health and with flying colours. We have a very good friend, who we met when she was a divorced headmistress, who had the same problem. And in less than a year after her successful treatment, she met a really nice chap and got married. They are still happy as sand-boys 12 years later. Marvellous!

I just know you’ll be OK too. Please keep us all posted with your progress.

And remember, there’s a warm glow of love blowing your way from across the Atlantic. :-)

Araminta said...

Well hello Dolores and George.

Bilby and I would just like to say that we wish you a Happy Christmas and Best Wishes for the New Year.

Bilby cannot make it through your incredible defences, so the intrepid Ara is having a go. Two glasses of the Fizzy Stuff and we are hopeless!

Henley on Thames to France; are you receiving us?

Dolores Doolittle said...

Oh Thankee Greatly, Ara and Bilby - have just found your merry messages here and on Remains of the Mouse! A Joy-filled Christmas to you two, too! xxxx