Apart from having to promise my mother not to put her in a home (a promise I failed to keep) she also requested that once she died, she was not to be buried, but cremated, and for there to be no service of any kind. She hated public gatherings and the thought of being the centre of attention at one, even if dead, filled her with a dread that not even an extra brandy or two could remedy.
I think for both my sister and I, this was OK as we had no strong desire for a public spectacle of any kind. However, doubt creeps in once you are faced with the actual situation. What will people think? What will relatives think? Well, the few relatives we have appreciated mum enough not to mind, but what about “others”. Once passed away, her body was kept in the “cooler” at the home she had lived at for more than eight years. It seemed a bit weird to just ship her off to the crematorium without ANY acknowledgement, on the other hand at this point it is “just” a body. As usual, due to me living far away, it was left to my sister to make the arrangements. As it happens, the home has a small chapel and on the day of sending the coffin off on its’ 150 mile journey to the nearest “incinerator”, as mum would call it, a dozen people gathered there for a few moments of quiet reflection and a few words from a couple of us. No-one officiating, no priests or officialdom. After a very short ten minutes we followed the coffin the 10 meters to the hearse that was waiting outside. It was a specially adapted estate car (it will never fit!) the coffin just sliding (it will never fit!) silently into position (it fits!!) and the boot/hatch door closes. Now, if all funerals that aren’t funerals were more like this maybe I’d go to more of them!
That was it, and our attention now turned to coffee and cakes supplied by the home and a sister in-law. Several hours later, once the coffee had run out, all agreed that it had been a very different but very nice affair. The gathering had been small enough, with only the very nearest, dearest and nearest to home for even mum to approve. She wouldn’t even have needed the brandy, but would have had one anyway!
For another time; “What about burying the ashes?” and in possible trouble with the church authorities … it’s just not cricket.