Of course the person I really want to talk it over with is Aunt. And in a way I am, but it is a rather one-sided conversation where I ask if she was pleased with how it went, and hope the silence is an approving one.
The sun shone, the skies were blue, the church was full of light. Her coffin of seagrass looked lovely. Too big, but lovely. Such a little body inside. The florists had done a perfect job with the flowers; subtle pastel colours; roses, hyacinths and tulips, with bunches of dried lavender tied to the sides of the coffin and her pale blue sun hat sitting on the top.
The church was full. There were regular members of the congregation, neighbours, friends from further away, family. My cousin Tom gave the tribute for the family and his emotions nearly got the better of him. Tissues were being passed along rows. He remembered to give Linda a special mention, though he played fast and loose with the number of Aunt’s siblings and the age gap between Aunt and Mother.
But it was Aunt’s special friend, Margaret, who made the service so memorable. She is 93, has leukaemia, has had leukaemia for some years. A tiny frail woman with an energy that seems to belong to someone else. She and Aunt became friends the first time Aunt attended the church. Margaret was a missionary in Africa, but hails originally from Armagh. She was astounding; funny, warm, witty and full of love for Aunt and gratitude for their friendship. When she signed off, looking down at the coffin and saying “see you soon,” there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. If she had a fan club we’d all be paid up members now. She wasn’t coming to the cemetery for the burial, and couldn’t stay for the ‘substantial’ refreshments specified in Aunt’s will, so she was all but mobbed by the family outside the church, and the minister who had gone ahead must have been wondering what was keeping us. Continue reading