STORIES GATHER AT FUNERALS
I went to a funeral today.
My Auntie Gloria who would have turned 88 today was the centre of our loving attention.
She was the last of her generation.
My Dad and his brothers, sister and their spouses were our seniors, guides, advisors and loved parents:
Mick and Gloria
Jack and Doreen
Paddy and Kay
Betty and Ken
Brian and Nellie.
My brother and I said our goodbyes to her and our hellos to our cousins (the very first friends we made in life).
I also said goodbye again to Jack and Doreen, my beloved Mum and Dad.
These people were the holders of something so very precious.
They were the Tellers of Stories. We, the next generation lived and learned from the perils and principles described – despite often ignoring the lessons.
Family gatherings were full of laughter, music, children (there were many of us) and the joyful spinning of yarns.
These stories were the jewels to be polished (and perhaps embellished) as time went on.
The stories of their childhoods; the tales as they grew to adults; mischief; military service; working lives; chaos and order laid out for us to hear and absorb.
Pictures and places were built with words. Courage defined; joy subtly expressed; hardship faced because it was there.
There were songs around the piano, ‘someone’ could always play and cousins (mostly the girls I think) would sing:
I sang and hummed Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ral to my own children as a lullaby without a thought as to the origin of that music in my memory.
I am reminded now.
The setting for Auntie’s casket had some of her favourite ‘tops’ hanging as a backdrop.
Shopping for ‘tops’ was a simple and gentle pastime she enjoyed in her later years.
Her story of 88 (nearly) had been lovingly collated by her storytellers – the children she and Mick raised.
One of her daughters recounted a sound that embodied Auntie Gloria; the sound of Gloria’s wedding ring hitting the metal mixing bowl as she mixed the countless batches of biscuits.
Photo by Heather Gill on Unsplash
I drew a quick breath as I listened. That sound was the same memory bell for me with my Mum, Doreen!
The bell rang and I was instantly back through 50+ years to be in the kitchen with my Mum waiting to lick the spoon.
IS THIS A LAMENT?
The pain of loss was with us all. Auntie Gloria was the last of her generation for this family.
We are now left to wonder where we, the next generation, will find the wisdom they gathered, the courage they shared and embrace life as they did.
There is no lament here though.
You see, their stories gathered with us as we met up today. We didn’t tell them all.
We have our lifetime to polish and share their stories and add our own now.
We will always need storytellers. Life is barren without them.
So lay on the ground and make cloud shapes with your kids and grandkids.
Tell them the time you were sent to the Principal’s office for throwing a punch.
Pick each story jewel up and put it down to reread with joy like a favourite novel.
These life events and experiences are the fabric of our lives and families.
These story jewels gather at funerals when we do – maybe we should be holding them up to the light much more often in our lives.
Photo by stories s-o-c-i-a-l-c-u-t on Unsplash