We said goodbye to grandma today, with a quick ceremony at the crematorium before we poked off to Bolster Moor to indulge in delicious brunchery.
The ceremony was always designed to be quick – it’s what my gran wanted and, as mum says, there aren’t actually that many people still about to say goodbye to her anyway as a lot predeceased her and others she severed ties with abruptly because she’s was a grumpy old bugger and stopped agreeing to talk to people on the phone. Why she did that is anyone’s guess. Ours is not to reason why, as they say.
There are other family members – cousins, nieces, nephews and whatever else – round and about but they are conspicuous by their absence. For all their love of “Auntie Jill”, as the majority referred to her regardless of her position on their branch of the family tree, their absence has been noted at any point when my gran needed help up to and including the need for mum and dad to bring her all the way up the country to look after her.
Carole, bless her, has been worried that people would be offended that they weren’t invited to the funeral. I’d taken a much more hard-nosed approach to it, along the lines above. And mum was just adamant that all grandma wanted was a short no nonsense ceremony to say farewell.
And that’s all it was. But it was no different having the three of us – me, mum and Carole – than it would have been if there were one hundred people. We were still asked to stand as though we were a large group, to sit in similar fashion. Our moment of silent reflection was still as silent and reflective as it would have been with a sea of acquaintance pensioners breathing down our necks from the rows behind. I nearly started giggling during the silence. A terrible thing to do, and something I had to fight to supress. It also didn’t help that as I felt myself starting to laugh I started thinking about the episode of Coupling with the “Giggle Loop” in it which is about that exact moment. Which then made me want to giggle even more.
And then, blissfully, the moment ended.
We left the ceremony to the strains of the theme from The Last Of The Summer Wine which is, when you remove it from old men in baths, a surprisingly good and poignant piece of music. Mum chose it because my gran used to love that show – there wasn’t a lot she’d laugh at, to be fair, being one of nature’s fun sponges – and for quite a while assumed that was how the whole of Yorkshire operated.
I’m not ever really sure she thought any different right up to the end.
It was hard, though, not to thing of Dad throughout the whole thing. It was, after all, his mum we were saying farewell to. The end of a chapter that should have come before the end of his own, it hit mum the hardest. You could see she was getting upset about that by the way she was constantly playing with her wedding ring throughout the whole thing. But I think we did right by him. Dad had always said that it was going to be a small ceremony anyway – smaller, even, that today’s because he’d expected it to just be him and mum. No fuss, he said, would be made. Things would be done as they should be done but with no pomp, circumstance of the word GRANDMA in large flowery letters (at £50 a letter you can see why).
I’m not knocking people who have the large and overly flowery funerals. You do what needs to be done. For us, we were following the requests of a woman who asked that little fuss was made and, in a way, a woman who we’d said goodbye to several years ago as she lost her grip on the memories of who each of us was and how we fitted in to the whole thing.
If she’d been looking down on the ceremony, she’d have looked at the three of us and wondered who we were. Maybe had a sudden urge – a subconscious impulse – to hit the older woman with a walking stick but not really understood why. But then she’d probably have wondered who was in the coffin as well, because she thought she was a lot younger and living somewhere else.
Either which way, we were there. We said our goodbyes.