I haven’t been to a lot of funerals since I was diagnosed with leukemia (most thankfully not my own), but J. and I are of the age when parents and grandparents of people we know are requiring them. And so last Saturday we found ourselves at the funeral of our friend K.’s mom.
K. is the first person who welcomed J. and me to the neighbourhood the day we moved in together. She didn’t bat an eye at our womanly living arrangement. K. and her partner P. live directly across the street from us, and, if the darn trees weren’t in the way, we’d be able to see in each other’s front windows. K. and P. have become good friends over the years. We take turns hosting our annual Christmas drink, where invariably more baked goods are consumed than alcohol.
As a nurse, K. has also jumped in during a few of my medical crises, even insisting I go to the hospital once when I was resisting. Of course she made the right call. J. and I are grateful to have such easy access to a trained professional.
J. and I only met K.’s mother once or twice, but through that front window we saw her visiting K. many times, at first driving herself over but in later years being transported by K. K. was a devoted daughter who visited with her mom regularly and made sure her needs were met. She shared stories of how her mom was doing over the years, including the move out of her family home and transition into a seniors’ home.
When I called K. to express my condolences, K. mentioned how grateful she was for the time she had with her mom, who had just turned 90 a few months earlier. What an incredibly positive perspective on a profound loss.
When I then mentioned we’d see K. at the funeral, she apologized in advance for the number of people who would be speaking about her mom. Is that crazy or what? K.’s mother was blessed with many children and stepchildren and all their progeny. There would be many people wanting to share their favourite stories and memories of this wonderful woman. A bounty of speakers is nothing to apologize for.
We learned so much about K.’s mom through those many eulogies. Everyone who spoke captured beautifully a particular time in her life or a memory of a special moment together. We learned about the adversity she had overcome, how much she had given to her community over the years, the close and enduring friendships she had forged, and the extended family and friends that loved her so. We learned she was spunky and vibrant and generous and she told it like it is. And by learning about K.’s mom, we learned about K. too.
Of course funerals are not all happy. Yes, this one was very much a celebration of a life well lived, but tears were shed and people were clearly feeling a huge loss. I’m glad there was a funeral because it gave this large and loving group a chance to say good bye. Everyone needs a chance to say good bye.