Saturday, April 28, 2007

Respects

I have to go and do something very tough today: pay my final respects to someone who was a good, decent man, and my friend for almost twenty years. It's not my dad, and pardon me for not being more specific, but I'd rather not receive any media attention or "I'm glad So-and-So died" e-mails.

I don't like funerals. I've been to too many, I guess; lost too many people that I've loved. If the contents of my will are respected, and they had better be, there won't be one for me when it's my time. No grave or memorial, either. I'd rather those who care to remember me only have memories of me while I was alive. But I go to funerals, because other people I love think they're important, and if you cared for the deceased, you really can't not go.

I have different ways of paying my respects. I plant a tree in a park every year for my grandmother on her birthday, and I've worn her birthstone instead of my own since she passed away. I talk to her sometimes when I'm alone, because as irrational as it sounds, I feel that she's out there somewhere, listening. I tell her stories and read her poems to my children, who never met her, and show them her pictures. It took me a long time to accept her death, but once I had grieved enough, I began trying to celebrate the things she loved rather than suffer over her loss. That way I think she lives on as a part of my life.

Trees are also a reminder of my friend, who loved gardening and in particular bonsai trees. At one point he had a half dozen he had lovingly cultivated over a period of many years, and would show them off like a proud papa. I've given bonsai trees as gifts to friends, but they were purchased, and I've never tried cultivating them myself. He told me a lot of the secrets of how to do them, so I think I'll start one this year with the kids. It'll be a constant reminder of what I want to remember: some of the beauty he brought into my life and the world.

I'll be back on Monday. Have a good weekend

20 comments:

  1. Hey Friend

    Sorry for your loss . . . I buried a friend last weekend, it's tough. I just had to write and say your tree planting is a great idea . . . Thanks.

    Dan Hanosh
    Dreams Are Yours To Share

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  2. Jason1:12 AM

    I'm sorry, Lynn. I lost my great-aunt not too long ago. She was like a grandma to me, and it was hard to see her go.

    All the funerals I've ever been to have been remembering things that they did while they were alive, and that's the way I prefer it.

    I'm sorry again for your loss. And the birthstone and tree ideas are beautiful.

    Best wishes.

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  3. So sorry, Lynn. I don't like funerals either, and saying good-bye is hard.

    The last funeral I went to was for a woman who lived across the way from me. I liked her. We would talk about our children, and this and that. Nothing important. When I went to her funeral they had some of her artwork in the entryway to the church, and it knocked me out. I had no idea she was such a gifted artist, that we had compatible esthetics. We had never discussed art. I felt so sad that we had missed that opportunity to connect, to appreciate the same things, to fire each others creative energy.

    Anyway...

    I love your idea of planting a tree. When my mother was alive we would plant a plant when one of our animals died. Now that she isn't here, I support the WWF annually on her behalf. She so loved the elephants and bears and tigers and such. This is my way of doing what I can to make sure the animals are here for her great-grandchildren and their children.

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  4. Sorry to hear about your friend.

    :(

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  5. Melissa B.9:05 AM

    Sorry for your loss, Lynn. *hug*

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  6. You have my deepest sympathy, Lynn.

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  7. So sorry for your loss.

    My grandmother left me a ring she wore for as long as I can remember. I can still see her hands kneading dough, planting flowers, washing dishes, holding a hand of gin rummy with that ring sparkling on her finger. It's not worth much, but I number it among my most precious possessions.

    When I look at it on my own hand, I see her face and remember when she was the lone figure in my life that represented unconditional love and stability. It's a daily reminder that I am my grandmother's legacy, and it makes me strive to be a tenth of the woman she was, so that some day my daughter or granddaughter will remember the ring on my hand the same way, and treasure it.

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  8. My condolances, PBW. I love your way of paying respects. Bonsai sounds like a lovely way to remember your friend.

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  9. Anonymous11:04 AM

    Sorry about your friend.

    Thanks for sharing the ways in which you remember loved one who have passed away. My father died abouth three months ago. I've wondered how one day I'd explain to my children how cool and funny he was. It's inspirational how you've managed to make a connection between your grandmother and your children when other people would have let it slip away. Thank you for sharing your story.

    Chrissy

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  10. Sorry for your loss.

    Hugs,
    Cherie

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  11. I'm sorry to hear about your friend. It's a beautiful tribute you have planned.

    Take care.

    Maripat

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  12. It took me a long time to accept her death, but once I had grieved enough, I began trying to celebrate the things she loved rather than suffer over her loss. That way I think she lives on as a part of my life.

    This is exactly what happened to me with my mom's death.

    My condolences on the loss of your friend.

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  13. I'm very sorry for your loss.

    I find funerals, well and dealing with death, extrordinarily difficult. Your ways of remembering those who once walked along side you are wonderful. You have my thoughts and prayers this weekend.

    ~Briana N.

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  14. Karen W.3:19 PM

    I'm very sorry for your loss. Sending hugs and strength.

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  15. I'm sorry for you loss.
    Ann

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  16. What a wonderful tradition to start with the kids. Hugs, my thoughts and prayers are with you.
    Joely

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  17. May peace be with you, Lynn.

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  18. Anonymous9:12 AM

    This week must have been earmarked as a tough one. I'm sorry about your friend. We lost our elderly neighbor, a man who went from being the youngest son of a rural mail carrier to chief justice of the supreme court. He was a dear friend and a wonderful storyteller. He was 93.

    On the day of his funeral, one of my best friend's husband died suddenly. He was a brilliant man, only 54. Dressed for a funeral I did not get to attend, I went straight to her house to start cleaning and getting ready for what was to be five days of cleaning, food, and crowd control.

    My friend's husband was an outdoorsman. He would especially like the tree idea. I believe I'll borrow your idea and plant a tree for both of them. The judge would have something witty to say about being remember as wooden.

    Take care. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your friend's family.

    Karen, the lurker

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  19. My deep condolences.

    My grandmother died a few years back and she was adamant about not having a funeral. But after a month or so, it became evident that it was the family who needed closure--a chance to come together and remember her. Many months after she had been buried, my grandfather decided to hold a memorial for close family and I'm glad that he came to that conclusion. It's human nature to want closure of some sort and that 20 minute service (which I flew 3500 miles in for) was a way for me to finally say goodbye to someone very close to me.

    I like your idea of planting a tree or creating a memory. I too think that I may borrow that idea in the far future.

    Again, I'm so sorry for your loss.

    Crystal (an also lurker)

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