Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Final goodbyes

My son, who has never been to a funeral, asked how his grandmother's funeral was. How do you describe a funeral?

As funerals go, I suppose it was just fine. No one fell apart uncontrollably. The only possible source of conflict was over which brother should speak first, which the rabbi settled by the toss of a coin. The rabbi, although he had never met the deceased, made very appropriate remarks.

The remarks were heartfelt and not too long. David read his from his iPad, since he was editing until the last minute.

Interesting things noted about my mother-in-law included her ability to give a superb hair wash (trained as a hairdresser), her love of making and cooking with schmaltz, her predictable weekly food menu (Monday veal cutlets, Tuesday lamb chops, etc.), her penchant to lie about her age (making herself 15 years younger than she really was).

I probably learned the most from our niece, who had spent a lot of time with her grandmother when she was growing up. They had a special bond that I don't think she even shared with her children.

No one mentioned my mother-in-law's preoccupation with the weather. It was invariably too hot, too cold, too rainy, too icy. There was rarely a perfect day. The weather number was perhaps the most frequently dialed in her household.

She would have found it entirely too hot today, as the temperature climbed to the high nineties. As we ceremoniously shoveled in the dirt and recited the kaddish, we were glad most of the service had been indoors in an air-conditioned chapel.

Diane lived a rich, full life, dedicating most of her efforts to her family. It will be interesting to see how they continue to relate without their matriarch. May she rest in peace.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sounds like your mother-in-law was well-loved and well-remembered today.

Although sometimes funerals and memorial services can be terribly sad, two things I like about them are the coming together of disparate people who perhaps only had the deceased as a common bond, and the inevitably richer sense I'm left with of the person who's died, after hearing reminiscences like those you described.

Loved those quirky things about Diane!

Hope the rest of the trip goes smoothly. Love to you and D.


12:37 AM  
Blogger Steve Reed said...

Living a rich, full life is all any of us could ask for!

9:17 AM  
Blogger e said...

I am sorry for your famiy's loss of Diane. She sounds like a wonderful person.

It's taken a bit for me to get caught up with posts. The 1985 fourth pictures were cute and I hope your son enjoys San Francisco.

I also find it hard to cook for one, although I prize my alone time. I think I would have a harder time sharing living space now.

Best to you and David/

2:02 PM  
Blogger Ruth D~ said...

A piece I suspect your mother-in-law would be pleased to read. I guess we're all a bit curious about our funerals...

10:27 PM  

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