Feb. 27th, 2016

mapsedge: Me at Stone Bridge Coffee House (music at the coffee shop 2)
Went to Aunt Lois's funeral this morning. Just like a church service but less exciting, and that's saying something. The Temple Lot services, led as they are by lay-clergy and unpaid whoever-has-the-talent-to-do-task-X, are relatively staid affairs. Song, prayer, song, sermon, song, prayer.

Tick tick tick tick tick *ding*. Honey, your Jesus is readyyyy!

The songs are accompanied by organ or piano, sung slowly (even the songs of praise), and prayers are long, droned out of whoever's brain isn't preaching that day. The sermons are taken from the Bible and/or Book of Mormon and given by men with (usually) no formal ministerial training. "Ah prayed over it, and God revealed to me that Brother Hayseed over thar yonder should be Called to Preach Thuh Word." Seriously. That's how it works.

The officiating minister read the newspaper obituary verbatim, a couple of my cousins sang a couple of hymns, the "eulogy" was a sermon about waiting for the second coming of Christ. I think Lois was referred to only twice as the preacher struggled to get his Titanic of a sermon around the iceberg of a eulogy. "What can you say about the life of a woman who touched so many people so deeply? In the Book of Mormon, page 237, in the book of Irrelevant, we read, 'Verily I say unto you, behold the camel is like unto a sheaf or barley, which like the bicycle rolling up hill, so too does the Son of Man eat lasagne at eventide.' Oh, and after He was crucified, Jesus appeared to the Aztecs as a winged serpent god, so, uh...right. Moving on."

Yeah, sometimes, they're that bad. What did any of it have to do with my aunt? Not a goddamn thing.

So, the funeral was more church service than the celebration of the life of a woman who lived long enough to have thirty-two great-great-grandchildren.

*sigh* It's what they're used to. For my funeral I want a cash bar and an Irish band, and anyone who picks up a Bible or hymnal gets bum-rushed out the door.

At any visitation or funeral, if the casket is open I make a point of stepping up and laying my hand on the hands of the deceased. This has a couple of functions for me: it's a way of saying goodbye, formally; it's a way of removing the cold remains I see from the warm memories in my head; and the complete absence of life reminds me of my own mortality and works to get me past the squickiness of it.

There have been only two exceptions: my brother Mike's funeral, where any acknowledgement of that loss was - and still is - too painful, and Aunt Lois, because I arrived too late to do it. I stepped in the door, the service began. I wasn't planning to anyway; there was no real relationship there, nothing really to say goodbye to.

I declined to go to the graveside portion of the service. It's an hour and a half away and while there will be food afterward - and I've no doubt it will be good food - I don't want to give up that much of my day; five hours minimum, and the kids are performing tonight an hour in the other direction. Yeah, no thanks.

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