Friday, March 02, 2007

My brother’s funeral

It was a cold and grey day in Yorkshire yesterday, with
intermittent light rain. A sombre day for a funeral, reflecting how
we all felt. Mrs C and I went with two of our four daughters. (The
ones with babies stayed at home).

We arrived half an hour early (in my daughter Em’s car), at Nab
Wood Crematorium, and we sat in the car chatting, while more
car-loads of people arrived, a lot of them strangers to us. And then
with impeccable timing the funeral cars arrived, passing swiftly by
us. I cried when I saw Peter’s coffin with a fabulous wreath of
multicoloured flowers stretched out on top of it. Peter’s family all
got out of the black cars, the grown-ups all dressed in black – I felt
as if I was watching a Mafia funeral.

The service went very well - the two principal speakers were Peter’s
ex-brother-in-law and his eldest son. They spoke about their
sadness and their fond memories of Pete, including some very funny
things Pete had said.

My two sisters arrived towards the end of the service (they’d been
held up in worsening traffic chaos after a bad accident on the M1,
which we’d seen earlier). My sister L. read out a very short poem
written by our late mother – I think the title of it was, “When the
clock stopped”. Time had stopped for both her and Peter.

We stayed on for two social gatherings afterwards, the first at
the Oakwood Hall Hotel, and the second at Pete’s house for an
evening meal, so we could chat a bit longer to various family

The whole day felt surreal to me – I felt nervous at the start
(feeling dreadful as if I were going to the dentist for an extraction)
…. very sad during the service, and later felt more cheerful when
chatting to everyone, and seeing all the young children (our great
nieces and nephews) running around. It was an emotional roller-
coaster ride for me - I felt exhausted when we got back to

Our last family get-together like this was four years ago, at my
mum’s funeral, such is the closeness of this side of my family.
My mum would have been 93 this month, and was the one person
who kept us all together, in terms of letting everyone know what
everyone was doing – she was the go-between for all of us.

How I hate funerals.

And then as I’m the next oldest of the four kids in my family, it’s
most likely my turn to die next. So the next funeral I go to, might
be my own. What a cheerful thought.


Anonymous that girl said...

That's a beautiful post Justin..hope you're doing ok today and minding yourself?

8:24 PM  
Blogger steve said...

A very moving post Justin
It reminded me of the last funeral I attended.
My niece aged 21 she had a bad asthma attack.
So you don't have to be the oldest you could be the the youngest or just plain unlucky.
Heres wishing you a very long and healthy life.

9:54 AM  
Blogger justin said...

Thanks, TG and Steve, for your very kind thoughts.
It's now Sunday, and I'm feeling somewhat below par, but am getting on with life. I find it helpful to have a supportive family and a couple of very young grandchildren around, to get me through what would be a sad and bleak existence otherwise... and of course, I value the support of kind people like yourselves.

7:44 PM  
Blogger angel said...

a funeral is indeed a roller-coaster ride... a very apt description justin. i'm so glad for you that you had your family around you...

12:57 PM  
Blogger justin said...

Thanks, Angel. Yes, my family are very supportive, especially Mrs C

9:54 AM  

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