It was our Grandmother’s funeral yesterday. The one who lived until she was one hundred and three quarters. The thing is, if you are lucky enough to live to an exceptional ripe old age, then don’t be surprised if not many guests turn up at your funeral. Not that you’d know I suppose…but still, it was quite sobering to have found that my Grandmother’s funeral consisted of eleven of us.
That was it. Eleven people. After 100 years. That’s just over one person to represent each ten years of your life. Just one person a decade. Not very impressive really. As we waited to enter the service, I briefly regretted not putting an advert in the paper for a rent a crowd just to fill the space, because we knew that there was going to be a very slim chance that anybody turned up unexpectedly;- she’s outlived her husband and all her friends by miles. There are only two out of three of her children still alive, nine grandchildren and 13 Great Grandchildren left and most of them live in Canada so couldn’t come.
However, as we got into it our small and intimate family gathering was in fact perfect. it was lovely to be there just us. Just the people who knew her really well. My cousin from Canada did a reading, I did the eulogy and we all sang as gustily as possible because the singing with so few of us sounded a little pathetic even though we were strongly backed up by the Funeral Director’s at the back of the service – feeling a little sorry for us I suspect.
It was a beautiful sunny day and a wonderful service – I liked the reading my cousin chose, it’s uplifting when you need to be reminded how to live without your loved ones around you:-
“we can shed tears that she is gone,
or we can smile because she has lived.
we can close our eyes and pray that she’ll come back,
or we can open our eyes and see all she’s left.
Our hearts can be empty because we can’t see her,
or we can be full of the love we shared.
we can turn our back on tomorrow and live yesterday,
or we can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.
we can remember her only that she is gone,
or we can cherish her memory and let it live on.
we can cry and close our mind,
be empty and turn our back.
Or we can do what she’d want:
smile, open our eyes, love and go on.”
So we took the advice literally and went from a relatively sombre service to a lunch and then on for dinner and then dancing and much silliness back at mine. Basically with the distinct aim of celebrating a life well lived. She had a very, very, very long and happy life and she deserved a splendid send-off.