I went to a family funeral yesterday.
Arthur "Jack" Johnson, age 92 was laid to rest. He was the patriarch of the Johnson family, to which my nieces belong. I was considered a close enough connection to be able to sit with the family and help attend the nieces while their father helped with the funeral and their mother mourned her grandfather.
I've known Jack, his wife Josie and their family for more than fifteen years and have been connected to them by marriage for nearly as long. Jack was one of those men with a great sense of humour, who instantly brightened a room when he entered it. His pockets were full of lollies and his heart full of jokes.
This is a guy who will be sorely missed.
An interesting thing about Latter-Day Saint funerals, they're not as grief-stricken as you'd expect. It comes from the Latter-Day Saint beliefs regarding an afterlife and of the eternal nature of family connections. Sure, you'll miss someone when they're gone, but it's not a forever thing. Families are forever. That's what's forever. Not separation, not death.
I thought it was lovely that the great-granddaughters wore pink. Grandma Josie wore green, in which she always looks good. Aunt Margaret, who couldn't be at the funeral because she was on the other side of the planet, sent along a video so she could be part of it. All the men wore a sprig of rosemary for remembrance; I had to explain its significance to a niece, because she thought they'd all lost the flowers to their boutonnieres.
The music was lovely, the jokes were appropriate and the floral tributes were tastefully nice.
Bowra & O'Dea did the funeral and they did a nice, respectful job.
After the funeral we went to a beautiful cemetery for the interment. There were peacocks, which delighted all the grandchildren. For Grandma Josie and a few of the more pregnant members of the family there were chairs.
A few good words were said and the grave was dedicated as per Latter-Day Saint ritual. Then, to some very Jack-appropriate music, the coffin was lowered into the grave, and the family got to toss in rose petals.
Then the tarps were removed from the gravedirt and the men of the family didn't just toss in a symbolic shovel. They got to completely fill in the grave. I thought this was a lovely, cathartic practice. I want this at my funeral.
Lives begin and lives end. I aim to do the best I can in between to make sure my life has as positive an impact as Jack's did.
Rest well, Pappy. We'll see each other again (just, not that soon).
Her Grace is all funeralled out.