“You can choose your friends but you sho’ can’t choose your family, an’ they’re still kin to you no matter whether you acknowledge ’em or not, and it makes you look right silly when you don’t.”
― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
Warning: The activities and responses are taken from a lapsed Catholic’s viewpoint. If you are easily offended by a humorous look at the human response towards death, customs and the Catholic Faith – bypass this post.
Three deaths so far since August, two had funerals which dievca hustled to attend. Both Catholic, one a close Family member, the other the Father of a Friend. One in PA, the other in NY.
A little background history: dievca was raised Catholic. Attended a Catholic Grade School and College. Her Baptism, Communion, Reconciliation, Confirmation, and Marriage all took place in the same Church. she appreciated the 20 minute Mass offered in college at one of the Sports Dorms. she doesn’t really take part in the Faith, anymore. Though Master says her Catholic still shows.
dievca is a bit disillusioned by many organized Religions, especially the orthodox versions – they are not for her. But whatever you want or need, its good for you – just don’t come asking for money.
Two years ago: dievca had lovely Aunt pass away. One of two sisters on her Dad’s side. Her Aunt (the sister) sat next to dievca during the Mass and said, “Doesn’t the navy blue casket look great and the flowers, too?” Okay~ dievca was more distracted by the Priest couldn’t be bothered to show up to give her dying Aunt her Last Rites when requested, he did not remember her Aunt’s name, never bothered to find out about her Aunt in any way — after said Aunt donated $5000 per year to that Church for multiple years and had volunteered in the school’s cafeteria after retiring. dievca’s Aunt had made the greatest of efforts to make it to Mass weekly. People made their quiet way to attend to her Funeral.
Not feeling groovy about that Catholic Church (PA) in particular.
August: dievca’s last Aunt (the sister) passed away.. This Aunt, well, let’s just say she was a challenge. ALWAYS. That said, she was very specific what she wanted for her Funeral. Same church, different funeral home, different cemetery. Mauve Casket, full-out pink Flowers, full choir – she set aside an extra $5k for a second viewing.
This is the Aunt who had sat on the sofa for 30 years, never venturing past a 4 block area. She was the expert on everything because she watched TV and read the newspaper. She never went to Mass, never volunteered, never donated money – so dievca didn’t expect the Church to know of her existence. They didn’t know her and they did ask a guest Priest to say the funeral Mass – he did his best and it was a much better Mass with less material than dievca’s other Aunt’s funeral. Five people attended. Eleanor Rigby kept playing in dievca’s head.
During that trip to PA, dievca made a point to visit, clean up and lay flowers for both sides of the Family gravesites. One of her cousins from her Mother’s side went with her.
Why did dievca clean up the gravesites? Good Question.
Actually, while cleaning – she had a chat with each Family Member.
No….they didn’t answer.
she visited the graves because people pay a lot money for a funeral, burial plot, grave marker to be remembered. dievca felt like she should take a moment on honor their last efforts to be on this Earth.
Please buy a wooden urn for dievca and toss the whole thing, unopened, into Lake Michigan. No blow back of ashes or bone that way.
The latest funeral was for a good friend’s Father. He had passed away after dealing with Alzheimer’s and Cancer. There was a sigh of relief in the Family.
dievca went to support her Friend and her Mother.The Funeral Mass was at the Church where her friend went to Grade School, Communion, Reconciliation, Confirmation. She never married.
This Church was where dievca’s Friend did everything growing up. The NY version of dievca’s Midwest Catholic Church. Very 1960/70’s stain-glass windows and design. Jesus was NOT on a cross – he was done in marble, looking like a Greek sculpture on the wall with a 6 pack stomach, welcoming ALL with open arms.
Irish and Chinese attendees. Interesting mix.
dievca’s friend is of Chinese descent.
dievca loves going to Chinatown with her friend’s 86-year-old Mom.
She runs circles around dievca and her friend.
She wore heels at the funeral!
dievca took care of the Mother’s coat/scarf, toilet run, huge hugs. Her friend is awkward with that stuff, so dievca stepped in. dievca’s Mom was/is high maintenance so it’s a habit and not a problem, plus her friend is generous, she doesn’t mind sharing her Mum. She finds it a relief.
Full Mass. Elderly Priest.
He worked hard to find out about the deceased and the family – unlike the priest who said Mass for dievca’s Aunt.
dievca’s friend was nervous about her Reading, she asked if she bows to the altar or not.
dievca said, “You know, I really don’t think God or your Dad is going to mind what you do, nor your Mother…” Then there was a mix-up with who was reading what…it worked out fine.
An Altar Boy (Chinese) and an Altar Girl (Hispanic), both from the attached Catholic school and were entertaining to watch. The boy kept staring at my friend and her brother when the priest said they went to the Catholic school and that both are in the military.
The girl was yawning during the readings, then she couldn’t find the Eucharistic Bread and Wine – no one had brought the gifts up to the Altar. The Priest had to go looking for it during the Ave Maria (excellent vocalist).
The trappings of the Mass are a show.
The prayers and meditation of people who take comfort is real.
The kids, with their mess-ups, are truth.
After the Mass, dievca got her friend’s Mom to the bathroom, helped with her coat/scarf and then sent-off to the graveside. dievca needed to get back to the City and was finally able to get to the bathroom for herself, desperate from the morning coffee and wearing a full Spanx undergarment.
As she exited the bathroom, the Priest was giving the two Altar Persons “hell” – it made her laugh.
There may be death, but Life goes on.