Dona’s story about her father’s headstone and the bluebirds on it made me remember my father’s funeral almost 7 years ago now.
My mother was exhausted after months of caring for my father, my sisters and I were grieving , and our funeral director was helping us through the confusing mire of decisions that needed to be made. She was wonderful. She came from the same small town near where my father had lived most of his life, she knew his brothers and sisters, and my mother’s family. And she kept a sense of humour, which actually helped us all.
So we’re sitting in my mother’s living room, and the funeral director asked us “what flowers did G (my father) like?” We all looked at each other and shrugged. A rugged farmer, Dad didn’t really seem like a flower kind of guy. I tried to picture him with flowers. And all I could see was him out on the farm, in spring, with daffodils blooming and new lambs running around. We talked about this with the funeral director, and agreed that spring flowers (he died in August, so it was timely) would be a good choice for flowers on the casket.
My mother was a bit indignant. He liked Roses, she said pointedly. (Her maiden name was Rose, hence the capitalisation.) Oh yes, we all agreed. Roses were very important to him. But still, the flowers themselves didn’t feel like Dad.
A few days later, we went to view Dad in the casket, before the funeral. The funeral director pulled my mother aside, and showed her the lid of the casket. There, in silver, was a beautiful rose. My mother smiled and touched the rose. It was perfect.
And the next day at the funeral, we were astounded to see the flower decoration next to the casket. It looked exactly as if a piece of the farm had been transplanted. The wild tufts of green grass, the daffodils that looked exactly as if they were growing naturally out of the grassy earth. All that was missing were a few lambs gambolling through. It was not traditional, and so I think my mother was a bit scandalised, though she did come round. But my sisters and I loved it. This was Dad.