Today I attend another “celebration of life”. My son pointed out that lately my life seems to consist of a great many “celebrations of life”. I reflect and agree.
The first funeral I attended was my father’s in 1969. He died in a motorcycle accident when he was 47 and I was 19. Because of his age, the church was filled and a Soprano sang Ave Maria during the mass.
Because we moved a great deal when I was young, and transport wasn’t like it is today, when my father’s mother died, he flew from San Diego to Chicago for the funeral and when my mother’s mother died, she flew from San Diego to Bloomington, Indiana for her mother’s final goodbye.
We didn’t talk about death in those days. Now, people my age are studying aging and dying, wanting to meet it openly and fully, and so what was once called a funeral, and then, a memorial, is now a “celebration of life”.
I’ve always resonated to the artwork of Paul Klee, and now I sit with his words.
A drawing is simply a line going for a walk.
A line is a dot that went for a walk.
A simple flourished line is an active line on a walk, moving freely, without goal. A walk for walk’s sake. The mobility agent is a point, shifting its position forward.
I wonder if a funeral is simply “a line going for a walk”. People gather in a sacred place usually wearing black. Voices are quiet and subdued. They come to listen and reflect.
With the memorial, the dot goes for a walk, but with a little less of a container. There are no sidewalks. I see a dirt path with grass along the sides, a little more freedom, flowers a little more colorful and looser in their vase clasp .
Now, a celebration of life includes a video of all the years. Photos and music, laughter, food, and wine are offered and shared. Often, the deceased has planned it all, has planned a celebration where the funeral and wake are combined.
Fred Astaire comes to mind, dancing in his top hat and tails, swinging his cane with precision and grace.
My plan is simply to be scattered, each person scattering and remembering, silent as the movement in leaves.