A week ago Wednesday I attended a funeral. The deceased was the father of one of my company's clients, a gentleman of some 89 years of age. I met him in late 2004 when I trained my first client site; he was the owner of the company then, but he transferred ownership to two of his sons last year. He was a very nice man, very friendly to me. While I was there, he fell and hurt himself. I saw how well he was thought of by the people of his company based on the worry they expressed at that time. He died of natural causes the weekend before the funeral.
Since moving to Louisiana I've been to one wedding (not including my own) and three funerals. I suppose the wedding-to-funeral ratio is a sign of my advancing years. Anyway, this funeral was a little different than the previous two: 1) I knew the deceased; 2) my wife did not know the deceased; 3) it was in a church and not a funeral home.
The service was only half an hour long, but it was the first of three that the family would have to sit through. There was a family-only service shortly afterward, and a short service at the grave. The gentleman was known to a lot of people in the community, which is why I think there was this public service.
I thought the service was too impersonal. There were three ministers, two Baptist and one Methodist. The first Baptist and the Methodist ministers seemed to know the gentleman personally. They gave short eulogies of no more than five minutes each. There were not a lot of personal anecdotes that didn't involve the ministers meeting the gentleman in their professional capacities. Still, some of the old man's personality did shine through their words.
The third minister was the fairly new pastor of the church and didn't appear to know the man very well. This was unfortunate as his sermon (not eulogy) lasted about 15 minutes. He only mentioned the deceased twice, and once was to say that the deceased would have agreed with everything the pastor was saying. The sermon was the traditional "he's gone to a better place, all believers are going there, isn't Jesus wonderful?" speech to reassure the bereaved. It was too impersonal and too evangelical, but not surprising for a Baptist minister.
During the service (we arrived at 9:20 for the 10:00 a.m. service to get seats) I had a lot of time to look over the church's stained glass windows. They were a little disturbing, but not in any kind of creepy way. They were colourful and competently done. They were from obvious bits of the New Testament. Above the pulpit was Christ being baptized by John the Baptist. What disturbed me was the way the artist rendered the "big names" in the pictures. The background folk were done sort of two dimensional in a style that fused the Bayeau tapestry with Nickelodeon. Christ, John the Baptist, and the other recognizable folk were drawn more realistically, like they were illustrated for an Alan Moore graphic novel (but more V for Vendetta than From Hell). They were sort of lifelike, so they clashed with the background characters, animals, buildings, etc. The disturbing part was Christ. Or, rather, Christ on the cross. The artist apparently believes in a buff Christ; he had quite the six-pack. I had this visual image of Jesus doing crunches before his Sermon on the Mount, which didn't sit well with the somber occasion. As I said, it was disturbing.
Whatever I might think of the funeral at least it was brief and respectful. I only noticed a couple of people in jeans, and they at least wore polo shirts (instead of t-shirts). No one wore a cowboy hat, in contrast to the previous two funerals (one in central Louisiana, and one in Texas). Most of the men at this one were in suits and ties (yours truly included).
It did reinforce one thing: I was thankful neither Alana nor I will have a funeral. We willed our bodies to the Louisiana State University medical department. (While some may see this as disturbing, I think of it as insurance. I like the idea that at least one or two additional people will be checking me for a pulse after someone says I've gone...)
4 Good Years
9 months ago