07 October 2010

Unorganized Reflections

It would be rather cheeky of me to claim that I’m ever meticulously organized here. Pardon me, but this week I don’t think I’ll even make a stab at it.

There is no way that I will attempt to synthesize the experience of the long illness and then sudden death last Friday of my mother and make something literary out of it. I cannot exactly claim to be a mere “observer the scene,” but neither can I write a retrospective which makes any particular point.

Funerals – Can a funeral will be “beautiful”? Certainly, quite a number of the persons attending this one referred to it as such. Maybe it’s something like the idea of Sebastian Junger’s Perfect Storm, where the event is terribly unfortunate but it just comes together in some kind of beautiful if macabre fashion. Pastor Josh Patty conducted a service of comfort, faith, and even optimism. He described my mom and her feisty attitude accurately enough to evoke a good bit of laughter. Josh visited the house early Friday afternoon and spent an hour with Grandmother a couple of hours before she had a sudden heart attack or some similar large & fatal event.

Of late, music is been playing an even more important part in the life of our Church. The funeral was a little bit music-heavy. Of course (to me, of course, because it was a Curry funeral) the opening hymn was “How Great Thou Art.” That dates back to the childhood of my paternal grandfather who absolutely loved that hymn and insisted it be played prominently at his funeral about 45 years ago. At my suggestion, Grandmother’s funeral included “It Is Well With My Soul.” I remember that one from only a few months ago at the funeral of a friend, and brother David and I were talking about it a good bit after that funeral. It has a rather interesting history. My partner, who was sitting with David, commented that he was in full voice in the singing.

Our cousin’s husband, Chris, volunteered to act as a pallbearer. Chris was always really good to my mom, as was his wife Nancy. Nancy’s mom is my dad’s sister who still lives nearby, and we all generally spend the holidays together. I know that mom’s death was particularly hard on my aunt. Grandmother’s eldest great-grandson, from California, was another pallbearer, as were two husbands and one boyfriend of three of the granddaughters. I’d never met the boyfriend before – very nice fellow, and when I thanked him for serving as a pallbearer, he commented on what an honor was. In any event, the family was all back to Harmony Grove Church for another Curry burial.

When God punches your ticket, you’re staying on the train. That being said, Grandmother received optimal medical care from when the event occurred. The paramedics and fire department had good response times and showed good judgment in doing immediate transport rather than an extensive treatment at the house (in my active duty days known as a “swoop and scoop.”) The ER staff at Fairmont General was properly aggressive and professional and, when it was clear what the outcome was going to be, they showed a great deal of kindness. Someone called the volunteer pastor on duty, who came back and spent time with us immediately after Grandmother died.

My Masonic brothers the Fords did the funeral arrangements in their usual kind and efficient fashion. That brings to mind jokes my dad would always make with the elder Ford, Bud. When they ran into one another, no matter who was around, they would begin discussing dad’s funeral arrangements in elaborate ways. “What can you do in the way of a Viking funeral?,” my dad would ask. Bud would reply that he’d have to use Tygart Lake because of the Monongahela River just isn’t deep enough. And then they would discuss whose john boat they were going to steal to burn up, whether there should be a colorful wig and clown makeup involved in the body preparation, and so forth. (This is, by the way, my kind of humor. The blacker and less appropriate, the better. I’m not sure if this is a regional thing or merely something typical of odd people throughout the nation.)

No sweeping philosophical declarations today. Hmm. The VR software translated that as “duck rations.” OK, no duck rations, either. There’s too much cutesy philosophy out there.

That’s it for now. Carry on. There's nothing to see here. Move along. Move along.

Pippa passes.


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