Friday, January 09, 2009

Odd Funeral Thoughts

I'm back safe and sound after gallivanting all across Oregon. Most of the driving was done by others.

Grandma's internment service was... interesting. Astoria received about four inches of rain (and about eight since the start of the month), so her grave site was full of water. The original plan had been to bury her, but it would have been sort of a burial at sea if we had tried. So the service was at the mortuary (sort of at the last minute).

I hadn't realized how much reading Alison Bechdel's Fun Home has affected me (her book is an autobiography and her father was a part-time mortitian). I started looking at all the large doors and panels and wondered which one held the embalming studio and which one opened onto the back end of a hearse. I had hoped that the telephone ringer would be turned off (it went off during the sermon) but the sound of a power saw brought to mind someone having to "arrange" a body in the back rooms. ("Joe, this arm needs to bend so the flowers will be held right; hand me that Black & Decker...") So start with the sound of power tools and add my Grandma's name, "Agnes" leading to "Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona nobis pacem" (no, it was a Lutheran service, ) and suddenly I've got Mary's little lamb in my head. (Don't worry, I'm used to odd notions colliding in my head like this.) And P.D.Q. Bach's "Anges and her sister Dorris Dei" lurking in the sub-processes of my thoughts.


After hearing the sermon today, there are two stories about my Grandma that I want to share.

When I was a twenty-something, I liked to wear my "seal of Reed College" T-shirt, which is a griffin wearing boxing gloves surrounded by the motto: "Communism, Atheism, Free Love." When Grandma saw it, she was dismayed (moreso than I had intended) and exclaimed (to my surprise) "Atheism? Oh no!" (I thought it would have been the "Free Love.")

Years later, my sister and I were driving with my Grandmother. I forget exactly how we got on the subject, but Grandma declared, "I don't understand how the same God of love can go around telling people to kill other people; it's doesn't make sense and it's just wrong."
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