Today, my son and I went to the funeral for the mother of a good friend of ours.
The church service was beautiful, highlighted at the end by having all of the grandchildren (17, as I recall) place a flower at the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary while the singer sang Ave Maria (the grandmother’s name was Marie). There was also someone playing bagpipes before and after the service, which always gets to me.
One part of a funeral mass that I enjoy is the eulogy. It’s a chance to get to know a little bit more about the person who passed away, often through pointing out the highlights of the person’s life or the sharing of personal stories involving the deceased.
I sat there wondering who would deliver the eulogy since the woman had nine children. However, we reached the end of the service, and there was no eulogy, and I was somewhat disappointed.
However, after the service, we went to a luncheon and it was about an hour into the luncheon when the stories started to be told.
My friend started things off by clinking on his glass, and then standing up and sharing three humorous stories about his mom. This was followed over the next 30 minutes or so by various people standing up and offering their favorite remembrances about Marie. There was lots of laughter and lots of insight into the wonderful life and sense of humor of the deceased, much more than could have been offered through a eulogy, constrained as such talks are by time and the environment.
The restaurant provided a more informal setting to share such stories, and people were in a more relaxed mood following the solemnity of the church service.
The impromptu speeches were a wonderful way for everyone there to celebrate Marie’s life, with lots of smiles and laughter, just like I think she would have wanted it. It brought to mind what a traditional Irish wake may have been like.
So I offer not only my condolences to the family of Marie, but my thanks as well for allowing my son and me to get to know her a little. It was clear that Marie loved her family, and that she was loved by her family.
*image from IrishCental