I attended yet another funeral this morning. The father of one of my oldest friends passed at 84 years. It gives a sense of pause, my friends are in their fifties as well as I and most have now lost one or both of their parents. There will be few of these to attend in the future.
It was a nice little gathering. Big Bill (father of the Wis) was a very uncomplicated man who gave of himself to others, the poor and his church. I know he will be sorely missed by all. He was a large, lumbering man who in his time was all of a firefighter and an engineer. He possessed a silent intellect and he looked more like the kind of engineer that should be driving a locomotive. I am not large of stature but throughout my life he was the only man that ever made me feel small in his presence. And that was not by intent. He was a big, open-hearted gentleman who loved to talk to everyone he met. I never figured out why I felt this way around him. Perhaps I never will.
Although this is a sad time in the life of a child it also can be the final send-off into life. You now are truly on your own, so to speak. Having attended many of these over the years, I think one of the things about the Catholic faith that is nurturing is the ceremony and rituals played out at these events. It gives the family structure in an unstructured environment. Other Christian faiths have little or no ceremony or rituals and I think that is sad. If provides continuity and a starting place to help move forward.
Big Bill was interred two sections over from my parents. After the graveside service I took a stroll over to St. Mark's section to say hello. I stated in a letter to my sister-in-law several years ago upon the death of her mother that this is not an end to their relationship. The only place I am ever truly at peace is this cemetery, it is 'my cathedral', the place where my parents rest. When I am there I am at peace like no other place in the world. It is quiet and calm, usually a gently breeze blowing through the nearby trees. It was a busy day there as two other funerals were taking place. As I spoke to my parents the soft sound of bagpipes hung in the air. I love the sound of them. It made my day.
I say goodbye to Big Bill and know someday I will join him and again be able to shake his hand. Perhaps I won't feel so small next to him then.
And at MY funeral I only want Christmas music and Ave Maria no matter what time of year it is.