|Woodlands Crematorium, Scunthorpe|
We have attended two funerals this week.
First came Auntie Joyce's funeral over at Scunthorpe - an hour's drive away. It was well-attended and the ceremony was presided over by a humanist celebrant. The only nod to religion was the inclusion of "The Lord's Prayer" which attendees could say if they wanted to but as usual I declined.
A nice thing about eulogies at funerals is that you often learn details about the departed that you never knew before. I learnt about Auntie Joyce's tough early days - growing up in a coal mining community near Doncaster. Previously, I assumed that she had been born and raised west of the River Trent like Shirley's parents and extended family - in an agricultural landscape known as The Isle of Axholme.
The second funeral happened on Tuesday morning. It was held in the Hutcliffe Wood Crematorium in Sheffield and it's another farewell facility I have visited a dozen times or more. This time we were saying goodbye to Geoff. He had collapsed and died at home in his eighty fifth year. He was a lovely man.
He was a man who listened and he had a positive, upbeat attitude to life. His son Steve ran away from his first marriage when his three children were very small. We know Steve's first wife very well and it was a great challenge for her when unexpectedly she found herself the head of a one parent family. But though Geoff was her father-in-law and not her father he stood by them all and was very active in the lives of his grandkids - becoming the number one male role model in their lives.
It is partly testament to him that all three have grown up to be delightful and successful adults. The lads helped to bear Geoff's coffin into the chapel while the daughter read a funeral poem very fluently until the very last line when she cracked up and blubbered to a halt. She is our daughter's best friend.
One day I guess there will be a funeral for me. There will probably only be three or four people and a stray dog there such is the impact I have made upon this world. I would like the humanist celebrant in attendance to say, "He was born, he lived and then he died. That's all folks!"
Though I am not religious, I have sometimes thought that I might like to be buried in the abandoned graveyard of St Faith's Church - a mile west of the village where I was born. It is a quiet place so rarely visited. There I might sleep peacefully forever more - returning to the earth. Perhaps illogically, I find the prospect of being barbecued most unappealing.
|St Faith's churchyard|