Tuesday, December 14, 2010

It Comes to us All in Time


My uncle's funeral yesterday. It was a touching ceremony. He had four children, and they all had families - there is no more fitting tribute than inarticulable presence. Who you were is revealed in who you left behind. That is a thing I've known only since my own father's funeral.

This was my father's side of the family, who, because we grew up 1600 kms from them, we never knew very well. Yet, my father, who was so measured in his words, said very much in saying very little: somehow he instilled in me an almost superstitious admiration for the Kerrs, an admiration that never really had to be tested. No one can measure up to close scrutiny, however, but my Aunt Mary, who is every bit as wonderful as my father always said. She is my father's only sister, the youngest in the family.

I don't know much about life, still less about death and the final meaning of any of it. Yet I've got to say that more questions and more curiousity were created in me from those few hours spent in Ottawa, watching these people to whom I am so closely related, and yet to whom I am likewise a virtual stranger. I have no plans to remain a stranger to these people, though. Aren't they just me, or us - my brothers and I - minus something, or plus something? and, yet, nearly perfect strangers. I look at them and see a chance to know what I never knew, and could never gain upon losing my father. The only one who seems to be holding on to the history is my Aunt Mary, and she is very good to pass on the stories. Alas, she is the youngest, so how many stories are now lost in perpetuity, to all but the Heavenly Father?

As I suggested in the previous post - life is that normal stuff that follows from your raw human data: your family, your casual business. Life is what is picked up, in the final tally, at a funeral reception, if you care to ask a question, and be introduced to a long lost relative.

The funeral was my first opportunity to see the
 beautiful 'English' basilica of St. Patrick in Ottawa.
It is even lovelier on the inside.

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