Funeral 

I went to a funeral yesterday, it was my friends mothers. I’ve known her most of my life so it felt like family. It wasn’t a sad affair at all, full of laughter and good memories. Pearl was ninty two and had a relatively good life, only really getting poorly at the end. My friend won’t mind me saying, but her mum was a cantankerous old girl, one of her regular sayings ‘please or offend, I speak as I find’. Luckily I think she liked me, or at least I don’t think I ever upset her, although it wasn’t the same for everyone. There were those who absolutely not welcome at the funeral, even in death Pearl would not be crossed.

My friend asked me to stay with her for the night, of course I did and we sat up drinking and talking until the early hours.  We laughed a lot as we recalled some of her mothers antics. Pearl had a liking for the old fashioned liquid Camp Coffee and we added this to our espresso martini’s in her honour. 

This morning before we parted my friend said ‘ I really enjoyed myself yesterday, we must do it again soon’.  I don’t think she’d really thought that one through, at least I’d hope not because as nice as it was I’m sure we can think of another event we will enjoy as much, without someone having to sacrifice themselves for our enjoyment.

Thanks for the memories Pearl, you’ll not be forgotten.

Treasure in a coffin.

A coffin would usually measure about 84 inches in length and be 28 inches wide so with you inside it, however slender you are, there won’t be an awful lot of room for treasure.

The word coffin derives from the old French word cofin, meaning basket or cradle. It seams funny and a little strange to me that we arrive and leave in the same vehicles. I’m wondering if it because each time we travel we are being born in one place and saying goodbye to another.

Although any box used for the dead is a coffin, the word casket is also widely used. It’s interesting that a casket was originally a box for jewelry. I think perhaps we are the jewels in this case and our value is measured by our deeds on earth.

I think what I’m getting at here, you have to stay with me, as I write to formulate my thoughts. Anyway what I’m saying is that we can’t really take anything with us, it will not stay along for the ride. We won’t wake up in the hereafter with the wealth we have amassed on earth any more than a baby is born with a healthy bank account and pots of gold.

So why do we spend our lives building our individual empires, with dreams of wealth being some of the most prominent. Why do we pray for a lottery win over health and happiness and why do we find it so hard to let go of material possessions when there will come a day we have no other option.

I’m as guilty as the rest, I’m a magpie, and I like beautiful things around me. I like things to shine, I polish taps and shine sinks. I bought my car as the tan leather seats went with my handbags. I weigh more on the bathroom scales than I actually should, because of the silver jewelry I never take off. I’m working on this and I will continue working, as I know the treasures we have on earth are nothing more than fool’s gold.

If we could only see each other by looking at the beauty of each individual soul without the material possessions or lack of possessions. I think we would see a completely different picture. We would truly see each other for who we really are by what we give out and not be swayed by falseness. I wonder what colours I give out, I hope they say something good about me.

Lately I have being seeing the natural beauty in nature, the flowers and the colours, the sounds and the smells. This is new for me, I’m a town girl and always busy and on the go. I’m giving myself more time now, I have slowed down, I’m watching and waiting.

I am wealthy in friends and loved ones, I have beautiful people around me but I won’t be taking them with me, nor would they want to come. I know I will die with the people I love around me but that will be as far as they go. I travel alone and the only treasure I want with me is the love of those I hold dear. I know with all certainty that the only treasures I will count as I leave this place are the people I love.

I’m thinking about this today and I’m going to keep thinking about it because I don’t want to forget. The wealth I have now and any wealth I have in the future will be measured in any kindness and love I’m able to give out. The treasure I will take with me will be those memories and achievements. I think they will fit as they will be sewn into my spirit and travel with me.

What will you fit in your coffin with you when they carry you out of this lifetime?

Aunt Sadie

Aunt Sadie was always strange according to my father, but to me Sadie was wonderful.  The day she died I knew, I heard her voice first when I was sitting quietly in the conservatory.  I looked up and there she was at the end of the garden, stroking the pussy willow just as she always did.  She had been poorly and I knew she was dead, she wouldn’t have got there unaided.   She had no shoes on her feet, her red wavy hair was untied and she was wearing an emerald green dress I hadn’t seen in years.  It had never occurred to me before then that you could wear what you liked when you were dead.  Sadie has told me since that you can be any age you like too, but I’m jumping ahead of myself here.  Anyway that was the day I started to talk to dead people.

From a young child Sadie was my favorite person in the world, she didn’t act like the other grown-ups, she pleased herself.  My father, her brother, despaired that his sister might influence his daughter in some way.  Sadie was full of stories, she collected them and wrote them down in journals she kept by her bed.  She told me once that there was energy in stories and when you recounted an experience and turned it into a story with meaning you were helping the world turn around and adding your own sparkle to the stars.

There were times I will admit that I did get a little scared of Sadie’s eccentricity, like when she would start to talk to someone but there was no one in the room.  The temperature always seemed to drop a little on these occasions but Sadie told me there was nothing to worry about, like attracts like and if you were a good person then that is what you would attract.  After she died when she started to visit me I kept this in mind when she brought along her new friends.  It wasn’t long before I would meet these people without her being present, like when I was shopping in town and a lady waved from across the street.  It took me a minute to realise but when I looked a little closer I could see she was not quite there.  It is like looking at someone through a net curtain, you loose a bit of them, but can see them at the same time.  I can turn it off and on now.  I worried at first in case I would be disturbed in the shower but I can control it, although if anyone really wants to talk they will make something happen to alert me.  Like a dish falling over on the dresser, a book falling off the shelf that you know was tucked in securely or a window blowing open on a calm day.

I don’t mind the interruptions to my life so much now, it’s like having a whole new circle of friends.  Not like the friends on facebook and twitter but friends you actually meet in person.  What is more than that I have found my vocation.

Sadie’s funeral was perfect, just like she wanted it.  She told me just how it should be and to be sure, she was sitting in the room with the family when the priest visited, whispering instructions in my ear.  He asked that we say a little about Sadie’s life for the service.  My father was dumbfounded when I was able to recall events as if I had been there, but it did make for a great day.  Sadie was sitting next to me at the front of the church and clapped and cheered when I read the eulogy just right and as we had practiced.  Okay, there were some confused looks when I curtsied but I didn’t mind as Sadie was happy and it was her day after all.  The music too was perfect and Sadie danced with the others as the curtains closed on her coffin to the tunes she had chosen.

After Sadie’s funeral I started a small business of arranging services myself, they are celebrations of life rather than funerals.  I sit with the family and we talk to the deceased, ask them how it should be on the day.  Plans usually move quite quickly once I can provide evidence through the memories of the person, that they are in fact there.   I’m amazed at how quickly my little business has taken off and how my name seems to have got around without advertising.   What is important to me is that the real story is told and from the person who knows it best, who lived it.  What is also great is how people are able to express their love to each other and know it is heard.

I’m busy enough but as more people have heard about what I do they are realising the importance of involving the dying in their celebration planning before death.  I’m sometime invited along to help tell the stories, but not always.  People who feel they have little control over the end of their life are now able to take the lead if they wish in a small way.  Choose what flowers they like, have the very best photographs around and invite the friends they want to be there.

Sadie does still visit and she is always around if I need her but it is not as often now, she is getting on with being there.  She tells me it is wonderful and she is not seen as strange there, but not to hurry myself as I have work to do and stories to tell.