Friday, August 28, 2009


I attended the funeral of a neighbour today at a nearby crematorium. It was a short, but dignified affair. I couldn’t help being emotional as I interacted with the obvious sorrow of those bereaved, particularly my friend’s wife and her two daughters. There was very little religiosity in the ceremony as a priest sensitively conducted affairs. A small gathering of relatives and friends listened attentively. I learned that my friend had served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War, and it was then he met and married his wife. They had two daughters from whom they acquired five grandchildren. A doting Grandfather, he spent many hours with his grandchildren and he delighted in teaching them to swim. As a young man he had been an accomplished swimmer. The priest read a eulogy composed by one of his daughters which was full of praise for a perfect and wonderful father who had always been gentle and tolerant with his family, friends and strangers alike. After the war he had worked on the buses and later was an employee of Lloyds Bank.

At intervals during the service, various songs and tunes were played, one of which was Louis Armstrong’s, ‘What a Wonderful World’, and towards the end, during a short time for reflection, there was Canon in D by Johann Pachelbel. (This can be heard here: ) I found the melody very moving. The only concessions to anything resembling a traditional church funeral service were the saying of the Lord’s Prayer and the committal prayer of the deceased to the keeping of the Lord.

Shortly before the curtains closed, one by one, family members placed single rosebuds on the coffin. Finally there was the playing of a solemn military refrain as mourners left the building to gather by floral wreaths and sprays that had been removed from the hearse. One of these was a beautiful rendering in yellow flowers of the word, ‘DAD’. There, people gave comfort to my friend’s widow and his family before they left for a get-together in private.

I shall always remember this dignified and simple tribute to a gentleman (in the truest sense) I was privileged to have as my neighbour for many years, a man who had lived faithfully and lovingly with his dear wife.

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