On 26th January, we held the funeral for dad.
Sadly, 25th January was to have been their 50th Wedding Anniversary. Needless to say, all party plans had already been cancelled, but, instead of a party, we paid our repects in the Chapel of Rest. He was beautifully dressed, in dress shirt and bow tie, just as though he was off out for a lovely dinner on another cruise. Indeed, he was perfectly turned out for the next adventure.
Thursday dawned grey and drizzly. The house was full of those wishing to pay their final respects, from far and wide. Cousins and Aunts and Uncles from Germany, Kent and the Lake District, others waiting at the church from the village or other more accessible places.
As dad arrived at home, for his final journey, the sun broke though, lighting his way to the church. Along with one of the funeral directors, the coffin was carried by John, Tim and Ed, up the gravel pathway to the church. We entered the church to the sounds of 'Song for Liberty' by Nana Mouskouri [ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTo0Inuvlxk ] (one of dad's favorites) and I was stunned to see all of the pews full of old faces. I have never seen so many people in the church.
The vicar (Rev Joe) made a wonderful speach about dad and his life and hobbies. He found a lovely passage from the bible which was very relevant, and then told many stories about dad and his quiet ways that benefitted many people, even though they didn't even know! As we sang the second hymn (One More Step) I found myself laughing inside. We had droped one of the verses, but, as there were so many people, many of them had hymn books, instead of the Order of Service sheets we had prepared, so half of the congregation sang one thing, and half sang another. A good friend of mine commented to the friend next to her that she didn't know the song, to which she received the reply; it doesn't really matter, everyone else is singing something different anyway. How funny. I knew it would go wrong, but I didn't expect that! (I have a horrible feeling that the words I copied and pasted were different to the one's in the current hymn book too - to compound the issue!)
I am standing upon that foreshore.
A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength and I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white clouds just where the sea and sky come down to mingle with each other.
Then someone at my side says, "There! She's gone!"
"Gone from my sight, that's all". She is just as large in mast and spar and hull as ever she was when she left my side; just as able to bear her load of living freight to the place of her destination. Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at that moment when someone at my side says, "There! She's gone!" there are other eyes watching her coming and other voices ready to take up the glad shout, "Here she comes!" And that is dying.
Following the church service, as most of the mourners left for the Shrewsbury Arms, family and close friends departed for the crematorium at Stafford. It was a beautiful day now, and this was a route that dad had travelled so many times. It was apt, that this was to be his final journey. Rev Joe said his final blessings, and then dad was taken from us forever.