Sunday, March 27, 2011

A new follower! I am back to my previous total! An auspicious way to begin what is likely to be a tough 48 hours.

Here we are. No blog tomorrow, and probably not Tuesday, either, as I make bacon and eggs for people who will spend the day on the road.

I am increasingly gripped by apprehension. I am nearly 78 and have only once before been intimately involved in a funeral – that was for Helen and David’s son Oliver who died at 6 ½ weeks. As Helen herself said when she was here last weekend, we didn’t really know him. Both of my parents were carried from deathbed to crematorium without benefit of clergy, as I gather is not uncommon in the US. Both had outlived themselves, anyway – they were in their 90’s with few surviving friends or colleagues or family of their own generation, their minds fogged with age and medication, in the care of strangers. My brother died young, but I was substantially pregnant with Alexander at the time and thousands of miles away: I didn’t go to the funeral.

I’ve been to funerals, of course, of people I have loved and mourned. But tomorrow will be a new experience in many ways.

Helen phoned from Pelion late in the afternoon about flowers. I had completely forgotten. The information – name of undertaker and florist – was there by the telephone. I had asked my husband a few days before what he wanted on the card. Then I forgot. But it wasn't too late. Thank God for Helen.

The seamstress came back with my husband’s trousers. He hasn’t tried them on yet, but they look fine. And I think we have partially solved the mystery of her grandmother, the orphan who was taken in by my husband’s grandparents’ family. The seamstress’ grandmother’s maiden name was Nisbit, no resonance there, but the seamstress’ great-grandmother’s maiden name – the mother of the orphaned child – was Grieg. That was also the maiden name of my husband’s grandmother, Alexander Miles’ wife. My husband and the seamstress must be related somehow or other. James, the keeper of the family genealogies, suggests in an email this morning that they are second cousins twice removed. But there is clearly more work for him to do here.


I got quite a bit of edging done yesterday while waiting anxiously for the trousers. Sixteen and ½ scallops (of 21) finished on the second edge – another good day’s knitting, which won’t happen today or tomorrow, should carry me around the second corner.

And Joe’s sock is within a round or two of its heel flap.

And I heard from Franklin, who thinks I will be bored by a day of Tomten. I can imagine few pleasanter ways to spend one.


  1. I have been involved in more funerals than I care to - you are fortunate to have had such limited experience. Your story about the flowers reminded me of a similar incident - when my mother died, we had forgotten to order flowers for the casket and I was asked to do it at the 11th hour. I was only 21, and shocked that the florist knew my mother's name when I called and identified myself. I hadn't thought that most of our parish used the same used the florist for all their needs (advertisers in the church bulletin!)and there had been others before me. I hope all goes as well as can be expected.

  2. My great-grandfather and great-uncles were undertakers. My father was nearly one. Instead, he entered the ministry and has been a part of more funerals than one can count over 50 years. My parents never believed in leaving children home (as other did) so I attended many coming from a large family.

    Funerals are for the living. It will be what you and C's family make of it - whether that be remembrance or comfort (spiritual or otherwise) or both. I hope your apprehension eases.

  3. At the recent funeral of my father-in-law my concern was that my husband would be overcome during the address he had agreed to give. In the event, all was well, at least with that element of the proceedings.

    I find that funerals have a cumulative effect, reminding me of all who have been lost.

  4. I'm a follower of your blog, although I haven't posted before this. You write in a thoroughly enjoyable conversational style.
    I've only been involved with one funeral, my father's, but I had my 5 siblings to help. Stash Haus has it correct, the funeral is for the living. A time to gather, remember, and let go. My condolences to you and your family. I hope the day goes well.

  5. Isn't Franklin wonderful :), I'm glad you get to know him. Funerals do make people think and hopefully add a good bit of get-up-and-go to their own lives. I have been to a handful of funerals (I am 60), not many, but they seem to be as your readers have stated, set by those attending. Glad Helen thought of flowers :) and I know the bacon and egg eaters will fill your home with love.

  6. How nice that Franklin wrote to you and warned you about the potential of being bored with the Tomten class. Will you take the Princess with you so he can see it in the flesh? That would be a real treat for him.

  7. I have just caught up from last Monday the 22nd and am hoping all went well yesterday. I found after my best friend's funeral, six months ago Thursday, that there was considerable emotional reaction that had not been presaged by the bustle leading up to the event itself. Unexpectedly bereft - a paradox since we had watched her die for eight months.

    If I had been on time I could have reassured you that the King James is still current with regard to chapter and verse - subsequent, more colloquial versions' notations are on par, except for the weird and wild such as "The Message" which anyway nobody should bother with. At a funeral the KJV's dignity is enormously comforting and entirely a propos. (And, I would contend, at all other times. I was raised on it.)

    I'm sorry about all this, even though from your previous posts I understand you to not have been close with C...though possibly your husband feels it more keenly. Sibling relationships go deep.

  8. Apologies: "Jennifer", above, is my daughter - I didn't realise she was signed in to her Google ID when I posted the comment.

  9. Anonymous1:46 AM

    Hi Jean
    I'm delurking to introduce myself and to ask what a "follower" is. It sounds vaguely as if you were the head of some type of alternative religion.

    I really enjoy your blog and I hope that these days have had some goodness in them for you.