My Granny loved funerals.
‘You see the best of people there,’ she would say to us. She would not think of turning up ninety minutes before one just so she could get a good seat. And she would not assume that she was flying up the metaphorical sharp end; she would just turn up appropriately dressed, go wherever she was put, and quietly celebrate whichever life it was, to the peaceful rhythms of the Book of Common Prayer and to the stirring strains, if she was lucky, of I Vow to the My Country. After the service, she’d down a couple of small sherries and some crust-less egg and cress sandwiches at the wake, and then hurtle back down the glen in her Hebridean landrover to her Hebridean cottage.
Life is a learning process and things have moved on since then. Having been a sidesman recently at the uplifting funeral of a much loved former resident, here are just a few of the answers to the question we put to everyone arriving at the church: ‘are you family?’, a positive answer to which entitled them to temporary residence in the front four rows:
‘I’m not sure. I’ll go up to the front and check, anyway, shall I?’
‘I don’t know. I expect so.’
‘She was like my second mother.’
‘I was virtually her second daughter.’
‘Almost. Her mother was my mother’s godmother. I think it’s what she would have wanted.’
‘We were the bestest of best friends. Quite literally.’
‘We were nearest neighbours. In and out of each others houses all day long.’
‘She adored me, so I suppose I am, in a way.’
‘My mother’s up there. She’ll need me there with her if she gets upset.’
‘I was once married to her friend. That one over there.’
‘I can’t read your list without my glasses, but it (my name) is there somewhere. It’s bound to be.’
‘I can’t read that list through my tears.’
‘She said I should be, so I probably should be.’
‘Of course I am. Do you have to ask?’
‘I have huge difficulty hearing from the back.’
I feel that the list is incomplete, so please feel free to add more.
It was a lovely, sunny morning, and a lovely, sunny service, so I just offer these examples (all verbatim) in the hope that you can get yourself a good upgrade next time round. I know I will. Because, in the words of the L’Oreal marketing agency, ‘we’re worth it’.
I have flown economy for the last time.
For a bit more like this, you might want to check out one of my books onAmazon