Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Quite Types of Funerals

Having gone through a year of loud public proclamations of accomplishments by a host of folk, got me thinking about how people are to be remembered once they pass from among us. It got me thinking how some people want to grab their glory now. There is a definite difference between a quiet funeral and quite a funeral:

image: Morgue File

Pigeons crown his statue, his duly noted acknowledgement, set in middletown square. He put the “I” in accomplishments. He gave generously his extra wealth to widows, orphans, and tax-deductible appreciatives. We knew because the newspaper told us so. Often. See page 3. His wife mourns him in stylish crepe, his children of status quo receive yet another scholarship in their father’s memoriam. The high school foyer plaque commemorates his sterling support of his alma mater class of ’52. A great whole will be felt in his passing. Much was given and much was gainfully benefitted. The piece that passes understanding is felt in regard to a man noted for his quite accomplishments.

Across town, in the smaller chapel, is the memorial for a man of lesser renown. In fact, the funeral director politely expressed his concern at the ratio of empty pews to attendees by frequent, albeit discreet, checks to his watch and neck stretches towards the door. Surely a man’s passing deserved more than a mere handful, he contemplated as he shuffled his notes. This man laid in the simple coffin at the front, closed at the widow’s request, did not rate column space beyond the discreet obituary notice. This man volunteered as a youth activity leader, though he had no children, walked shelter dogs every Saturday, and could be talked into helping out at the retirement home by reading to Mrs. Connelly or playing checkers with Bob Jaegers. He drove a fifteen year old Subaru, played golf with his nephew Paul, who remained in a thirteen year old mindset despite have grown into a 6’2 frame, and he bought his wife flowers every Friday, a tradition started and maintained through his forty-two year marriage. The funeral director did not have anything in his notes beyond: “Frank Peterson will be remembered for his quiet dedication to friends, family, and community. His accomplishments noted by those who knew him.” An embarrassing moment came, but quickly passed when his quick breakfast of reheated sausage patty sandwich gave him a wincing pain, causing him him to lose his place. As a result, he read out to the small gathering: “Frank Peterson will be remembered for his quiet accomplishments.” Realizing his error he hurriedly tagged on the part about being noted for dedication, etc. At the end of the service the director made sure to be extra kind and reassuring to Mr. Peterson’s widow.


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