Last weekend I had to dash down to my Birth Town to attend the Funeral of a Family Member.
As with all funerals it was a sombre affair and quite thought provoking too.
Firstly my father who has been poorly and sick for almost two years was there as well. My father has emphysema and collapsed lungs from a car accident early this year. He got there late and my sister had to pull her car up very close to the Vestry door so he did not have too far to walk. I helped him out and sat him down on the first bench right in the back, but there was a reason for doing so. He needs to be on oxygen full time and has to cart his mobile machine with him wherever he goes. My dad being a man who always thinks forward an further than the average person adapted his machine , extended the pipes so he can almost walk through his entire apartment without having to move the actual machine. As the bench could only take 3 people my sisters sat down on either side of my Dad and I walked down the Isle and sat down closer to the Close Family. This all happened on Tip toe as the service had already started 10 minutes ago. They were late because they got stuck in traffic on the highway. I had just sat down and asserted my attention on the sermon when my dad tapped me on the shoulder and loudly said: “Move up!” He had unrolled the oxygen tube to it full length and walked down the isle so he could sit next to me. He took my hand and still loudly said: “That’s better” He had difficulty breathing and had to take deep breaths to calm himself but sit next to me he did. We only get to see each other once a year or so and in the last two years this was only the fourth time we could be near each other. It meant the world to him to have me there as well. This was the second funeral for our Family in 9 months. My uncle passed in January and now his wife so soon after.
Funerals have a way of bringing Family together. Sometimes I wonder if it is really a show of respect or just a chance of seeing far away family that gets us to go.
As the service was about to come to a close the pastor gave a few minutes for Family members or friends to say a few words and without hesitation my father leapt up and started walking forward. Unfortunately the oxygen pipe was to short to go all the way to the front with him, so he just yanked it off and said: “Bugger this !!” My sisters tried to object but I got up and went to support him. He took a deep breath and started telling the story of the Tupperware Bowl.
Many many years back we went to visit my Uncle and Aunt for supper. They had made curry and my uncle was well known for the Hot hot curries he made. After supper was done my father asked if he could have an extra bit to take home, so she obliged by dishing it into a Tupperware bowl and made him promise to bring the bowl back. From there on every time she saw him she asked him for it but there was always an excuse. It never did get returned, although he still has it. One of my fathers excuses was that it’s not clean yet. See the curry was so hot and Spicy that it had stained the Tupperware Bowl and getting it clean was never an easy task. For years they teased each other about the bowl. He never gave it back and now he will never have the opportunity to do so.
And so my father concluded: In Life we all get stained, It does not matter how much we scrub and clean, some get hurt and some get lucky, some get sick but get to live long. Others live well but die quick. It’s how you tackle those stains and how you look after each other that matters. Never seize a moment to tell each other that they matter. Don’t put off what you want to do today, as tomorrow might never come.
We could see that my Dad was having difficulty in keeping it together so my Sister and myself took him by the arms and had to hold him up and get him over to his Oxygen Pipe quickly. He sat down and breathed and breathed heavily, but was satisfied that he had had his say.
The service was concluded and the family thanked for being there to pay their respect. We moved into the next door hall where coffee and tea was served and my Niece whom I had not seen in almost 15 years walked over to my Dad and loudly and forgetting where she was said: “Uncle Albert, You are my favourite uncle in the whole wide world but if you do that again I will kick your ass!!” (She meant the taking off of his oxygen) The hall erupted in laughter. Even the pastor chuckled.
RIP – Yvonne