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9 October 2012
We went to a funeral today. It was for a man I have seen, but don't know that I ever met, someone with whom Walt worked for many years. He was a young guy--about my age.
It was a funeral mass held at a Catholic church in Sacramento. It seems the only Masses I attend these days are funeral masses, the last one for our friend Will Connolly in April. The church for today's funeral was filled, and there was a line out the door of people waiting to get in when we arrived.
If you want a slow ceremony, get an old Irish priest to officiate. In today's case there were four old Irish priests on the altar, one of whom was so shaky he could not turn the pages of the Bible and had to get help. Add to that, for music they chose all the slowest hymns they could find and then I swear cut the tempos in half. "Funereal" definitely describes the pace.
Add to that the brogues of the priests and the muddiness of the microphone/speaker system and it just added to the length. I was glad I was not the only one who could only understand a word or two of what was said throughout the Mass...and heck, I'm supposed to know the Mass!
Going to a Catholic Mass makes me jealous of protestants. Catholic church have pews and kneelers but for most of the Mass, the congregation stands. I don't know why. I don't remember standing so much when I was growing up. As we stood, and stood, and stood while the shaky priest tried to turn the pages of his Bible, I realized that sweat was pouring off my body. I decided that God had seen my black soul and was punishing me for daring to come into his house of worship...or the Devil was trying to make me think evil thoughts (and doing a damn good job of it).
I was determined I would stay standing while all the little old ladies around me were standing, but when the little old ladies (and a couple of little old men) finally sat down, I joined them.
There was no casket, so at the end of the mass, at the point where normally the priest would take the thurible (that's the thing that they put incense in and then clank it against itself to send incense up to the heavens...when we were at Newman Hall and Walt was an altar boy, we always called it the "skoosher") and skoosh incenses over the body inside the casket, all they could do was to skoosh incense over the deceased's portrait to bless his beloved soul, which to my mind was a bit more occult than I had given the Catholic church credit for being -- calling up the spirit of the deceased by skooshing incense over his portrait. Smacks of Brasilian voodoo.
When it was over, we stood outside and made small talk. I do not generally do well with Walt's co-workers and their spouses. I always feel I am out of my element and have little to add to the conversation. This was particularly true when I got involved in a discussion about the difficulty of finding hired help for housework, a concept so foreign to me I might as well have been in a different country.
We finally joined the line waiting to get into the parish hall for lunch. We stood for 15 minutes in the sun while the line slowly moved into the building.
Finally, when the food was in sight (but still another 5-10 minutes away), Walt suggested I go sit down and he would get my lunch for me. Bless him. I wasn't going to give in, too proud to give up, but then I saw the one person from his office that I really can talk to and decided I'd grab a seat next to him while it was available.
While waiting for Walt to come with lunch, I was able to sneak photos of two of the people who were the most memorable in the crowd.
Lunch was good and I had a nice chat with the guy I was sitting next to, which was nice. Usually I feel like such a dork at these gatherings.
One thing about the deceased. He was much loved, admired, and revered. The comments by his friends, colleagues, and family were very heartfelt. I hadn't wanted to attend this funeral, but in the end, I'm glad that I went.
Finally going to COUSINS DAY tomorrow. If the weather is good (and we can find
the ashes, which are stored at my mother's, and she doesn't know where), we will be taking
Kathy "home" and scattering her ashes at Drake's Bay the next day, so the next
entry is going to be very late. Don't panic, Ron and Olivia!
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