Wednesday, August 06, 2008

And on a Somber Note...

We had a memorial service for my sister-in-law on Saturday. She was a deeply spiritual person but not affiliated with any denomination so we decided the appropriate thing would be to do something on our own and follow it up with a good old fashioned wake. Litury and a party, 2 things we do pretty well.

The service itself turned out rather well, though I say it. We started with pipes. The Child's godfather is a bagpiper and he did a prelude and then played a 10 minute dirge. Oy. I know a lot of people hate bagpipes but I love 'em. There's something about the sound of a well-played pipe that goes right into your deepest soul and pulls out whatever is lurking there. Auntie S and The Child sobbed through the whole thing.

Then we went inside. I said some traditional prayers for the dead, The Child read a poem ("Is it a prayer or a poem?" she asked. "Both," I said). The Spouse, his brother and SIL's best friend gave their eulogies. They were sweet and a little sad and every one of them also made us laugh. It's important for people to laugh at funerals. The dearly departed is, well, departed. The ceremony is for those left behind, a time to remember and yes, celebrate. You can't celebrate without laughter. And my SIL had a terrific laugh, the sort that came from the roots of her being and made her throw back her head. She would have wanted us to laugh.

She also had expressed a wish, a long time ago, that taps be played at her funeral. She never served in the military but she loved the sound of taps. The Spouse has a friend who plays them and he'd sent a recording. Oh! I've never really thought of taps as "beautiful" but golly moses, Michael's rendering was absolutely the most lovely thing I've ever heard. It was most fitting.

We said the Our Father, the one prayer everyone knows, it seems, no matter their persuasion. Then it was time for the final prayers and that's when I started to lose it. I choked my way through them, stopping and starting over the words, chopping up the phrases despite my best efforts to hold it together. Because they are pretty final words and phrases: "we humbly entrust our sister"..."welcome her into paradise"..."eternal rest grant unto her"..."perpetural light shine upon her"..."rest in peace". And then we went back out into the brilliant sunshine while Tyrone played "Amazing Grace". (And if the dirge didn't get ya, that one did).

Appropriately, when it was over, I went to give Tyrone a hug and thank him and I accidently squeezed the bag, causing it to give out a very tuneless and unfortunate noise. So we wiped our tears while we laughed, a fitting segue to the wake portion of the day.

Family and friends ate ReeRee's wonderful food (it is so helpful to count bagpipers and caterers among one's acquaintance), drank, laughed and reminisced. There were tears, because there are always tears, but there was a lot of good fun, too. Not to mention that the Blue Angels were in town for SeaFair and, as they flew directly over our house, causing hearts to jump into throats, we joked that they were flying in salute.

Rest in peace, sister dear. Rest in peace.

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12 Comments:

Blogger Kimberly Ann opined...

Thank you for sharing the day with us with your post. It sounds like it was a beautiful tribute.

August 06, 2008 11:39 AM  
Blogger Anne opined...

Pass the hankies, please, and thanks for sharing. Lovely.

August 06, 2008 11:41 AM  
Blogger Willym opined...

What a lovely memorial - the way it should be: some tears, some laughter and wonderful things to remind you of your S-I-L.

Strange as it sounds back in the days when I was a sub-deacon in the Anglican (Episcopal) Church I thought the Requiem masses where often the most meaningful. Anything that begins: I am the Resurecton and the life! can't be anything other than affirming.

We've been remembering S-I-L at Caravita and will again on All Souls. May Light Perpetual Shine Upon Her.

August 06, 2008 12:17 PM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

KA, and we served delicious brownies. Her favorite.

Here you go, Anne. Leftover brownie?

Thank you, Willym, for your prayers. She's had 3 masses said at 3 different churches here in the States. Not bad coverage for someone who wasn't Catholic.

August 06, 2008 12:20 PM  
Blogger sageweb opined...

Wow how sweet.

August 06, 2008 12:47 PM  
Blogger Doralong opined...

I can only hope when the time comes those left behind choose to remember fondly and have an excellent party and leave it at that.

August 06, 2008 1:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous opined...

Ba Ha Ha Ha (Note no w)

Peace, love, harmony and beautiful thoughts.

Peace

:+}

August 06, 2008 2:20 PM  
Blogger jp opined...

When you said you had plans that would prevent you from stopping into the coffee shop I didn't realize that THESE were the plans. Oops.

Her farewell arrangements appear to have been left in the hands of the best possible people. You should be proud, as I expect she is.

August 06, 2008 6:22 PM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

Sage, yeah, it pretty much was.

Cuz, word. I swear...there'd better be pipes and laughter at mine, that's for sure. Or there will be some haunting going on.

Back atcha, Anonyba.

No worries, Poodle.

August 06, 2008 8:21 PM  
Blogger Molly opined...

taps always makes my mother cry. At the tomb of the unknown soldier, she always cries. So I cry too.

August 07, 2008 10:18 AM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

Crying is rather contagious, Mols.

August 07, 2008 6:25 PM  
Blogger more cowbell opined...

Glad to hear it went nicely. Taps always get to me, even just the normal ones at the end of the day, no special occasion, so I'm sure they'd do me in at a funeral.

August 09, 2008 2:33 PM  

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