Today I went to a funeral. It was a teacher of my child’s. She is currently eleven, in year six. Her was the first and second year teacher at her school. The whole school pretty much shut down for the day and pretty much all of the students attended the funeral, then went back to the school which hosted the wake.
The attendance at the funeral was massive. More than the school went as this teacher was a respected member of several communities. She taught many people to think, to feel and to question.
The service was beautiful. I have been to a few funerals and I must say, this was the best I’ve ever been to. The emotion was palpable in the room. Not too many dry eyes by the end of it.
I went back to work afterwards. I must say, I didn’t really feel like working. I was just so darn exhausted. Still, life goes on.
I think back to a few other funerals I’ve been to. No one went to my fathers funeral. He was a homeless man who was killed near the location in the park he called home. By the time my brother and I got there, his body had already been cremated. I collected the ashes and spread them over a camellia tree in Sydney where he chose to live.
My grandmother had her church turn up for the service. Well, some of the church. It was nice to see the support they brought to her funeral and it was good that they gave her so much support in her last years. She always said that in her heart she was Russian Orthodox, but here in Australia she joined the Mormon Church for the people. She certainly used them well, and they got their tithe and good deeds in exchange. All in all though, my grand mother did not have many friends in life, and the few she did have, she outlived. Other than family, and we are few at that, no one was there who really knew her.
My friend died a few years ago. He was very young. Pancreatic cancer will do that to you. He had a few work colleagues, a reasonable number of family members and some role players who attended his funeral. All in all, a reasonable crowd. Not many spoke, but those that did had passion.
My role at today’s funeral was to be there for my daughter. She went through the expected range of emotions during the day. It is a good, though sad, experience for her to go through. This wasn’t her first funeral either.
Several times I needed to remind myself that I was there for her, not for others. I did allow myself to reflect on my previous experiences. I also consider my future. At some point, I too will die. When I die, who would I like to have come and recognise my passing? How do I want to be remembered?
I can see that if I were to pass, I would have my family there. I may even manage to coax some of the roleplayers to come. I would probably have a reasonable number of people from some of the clubs I attend come. Perhaps a reasonable turnout, yet how many actually know me?
I was thinking today, looking at the hundreds of attendees, all of who were expressing various emotions, that you can tell a great deal about the affect this lady had on the world by those who came to celebrate her life and say good bye. A stranger who went to the wrong service would know that this woman, this mother, this teacher, this creator, was loved and respected by many.
What will my funeral tell a stranger who came to the wrong service?
What would yours?