Friday, October 07, 2022

On Preparing For A Funeral

 Yesterday, today, and tomorrow I am back at The Ranch.  The focus of the these days is TB The Elder.

That is an odd sentence to write, especially for a man that had been gone for over two months now who is now - frankly - in a small box at my sister's house.  But there are still outstanding funeral arrangements that have to be made:  songs to be selected, pictures to be picked out, and a speech to be written.  All of this was going to be done last month of course, but then The Fire happened and the ability to get here was halted.

I still had two days of unused bereavement.  Far better, I thought, to shorten my time, remove any sort of work distractions, and just come up here and work specifically on these things.

Song selection, I think, will be the easiest.  My father - my parents, really - enjoyed The Oak Ridge Boys and The Statler Brothers (we grew up with a lot of their music), so that part should be relatively simple.  Add in an Alan Jackson hymn, and that should cover it.  No more than 10 minutes worth of music.

The pictures - in this case, lots of real, physical pictures - should take somewhat longer.  I have already made my categories sub-dividing his life into stages.  I believe the funeral home said five seconds a picture; by my math that divides into somewhere between 54 and 60 pictures.  At least 40 of those will be the pre-electronic physical presentation ones.  Everything will need to be pulled out, inventoried and numbered (so it can be put back, of course) and then taken down to The Outdoorsman so he can scan them.

The speech - I have written funeral orations for my material grandparents and presented them (I am not a lot of things, but I am a decent speechwriter and public speaker).  But never have I had to write this sort of speech before - not just about someone, but about my relationship with someone in a way that no-one else would have ever experienced, not even my sister (in the same way, at least).  The thought of compressing 50+ years of a relationship into something like a 5-10 minute speech is daunting: What do I include?  What do I leave out?  What do I make relevant?

To be fair, this has been in the back of my mind since 21 July, the day after TB The Elder passed.  I knew I would be the one to give the speech (in my family, this is the way it works). And I want to give a good speech - after all, in a meaningful way this is literally the last gift I can give to my father.  

The one thing all of this does - and perhaps this is the underlying reason why I choose to come out here for shorter period of time, isolated and alone - is emphasize the fact that things have changed and are changing, somewhat more than I believe them to be.  For that reason, I need to acknowledge that this is happening and give myself the gift - and it is a gift - of simply being able to focus or not focus, pick and review or simply remember, without the sideshow of the transient things I so often confuse as "life" with the things that ultimately do matter.



16 comments:

  1. Nylon122:56 AM

    Best of luck on the speech TB. Alone time can best focus in on the memories of your father that standout and the audience will be understanding of what you say. It can be easy to overthink it.

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    1. Nylon12 - Thank you. Fortunately my sister and The Outdoorsman had already selected some pictures so the task was not as daunting as it seemed at first. The songs were actually quite easy to select. The speech took longer to draft, and will likely go through a series of revisions as I think I tried to follow three separate threads in the course of following it.

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  2. I've never had to organize a memorial service or funeral, so it seems a daunting task. I think you will do well, TB.

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    1. Leigh, I am fortunate in that my sister and brother-in-law live close to my parents and we were able to split the labors. The good new (good, I guess) is like everything else, it is an industry. One just needs to contact the correct people - mortuary, local body of faith - and that gets the ball rolling. They have the contacts and lists and so on. After that, it is just meeting deadlines, although to be fair, we did not try to do one right after he passed away, for which I am extraordinarily glad.

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  3. Anonymous5:18 AM

    I extend to you now my ,”So sorry for your loss” condolences TB.

    Franknbean

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    1. Thank you so much FNB. As Lady Julian of Norwich said, "All shall be well, all shall be well, and all shall continue to be well".

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  4. Prayers as you go through this process.

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    1. Thank you Sbrgirl. Fortunately after yesterday, all the heavy lifting is done. I need only edit my speech (endlessly).

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  5. I'm praying for you too. It's an honor to have that privilege.

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  6. Although I consider myself a fair speech writer, I struggle giving speeches. I get nervous and my voice always wavers. I have often wished that weren't the case.

    I hope the memorial goes well for everyone.

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    1. Ed, my biggest problem is that I speak too quickly. So practice, practice, practice for me.

      I am hopeful the memorial will go well. In some ways as we prepare it seems a bit ordinary, but it will be nice to see some family we have not seen in a while and I am sure their friends will have stories we have never heard.

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  7. God's comfort and blessings to you all, TB.

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  8. So sorry for your loss and I have no doubt you'll do fine. I have apparently missed a lot due to a move in early July and a computer crash. Praying for you and your family.

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    1. GL, it has been a very busy and somewhat tumultuous late Summer. In short, TB the Elder passed on 20 July of this year - not surprising given his health, but a bit of a shock none the less. Thank you for the prayers.

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