Friday, January 05, 2007

The funeral....

Today was the funeral. The reason for our visit. The kids and their mum and her partner went in a black stretch limo. We played a low-tech game of car-chasing as we were following Donna who was following the limo to the funeral home. No-one had any idea of where they were going, and the limo drove really fast. Our car was the second in the line, and every time we were on the motorway and another car pulled in between Donna's car ahead and our car, there was a general exasperated sigh and a yell at the offending driver. We drove through the country around what I can only assume is the Blue Mountains (complete with minature, un-signposted national parks), and around to some city called Ryde.

Twice on the way back we had a small run-in with people cutting in, once with a woman trying to merge into a narrow one-lane road, and once with a guy who cut in front of us, giving Antonia (who was driving) the facial expression equivalent of the fingers before speeding in and out of traffic just so he could be the first at the lights.

But I won't subject you to that. Instead, a funny thing that happened: on the way there, I was sitting in the back seat and looking out of the window. I noticed a large (OK, huge!) orange-pink spider about 5 cm across was crawling across the outside window next to me. It was very hairy. Then it crawled across to the next window, where Julie (Brendan's mum) was sitting. We told her to look out the window. She screamed very loudly, and she and Ellie refused to come out of the car when we arrived til Brendan, Antonia and I were very sure the spider was gone.

I think everyone was amazed at the maturity of Mark's kids - they organised the funeral ceremony themselves. The eldest, Siobhan, (who is 16; Roy is 14 and Tomlin is 10) played and sang her own composition, they all gave tributes and showed no signs of cracking almost the entire time. Dan also played a song which he had played for his mum's funeral as well, so that was very poignant. I bawled the whole time, I'm really sensitive and cry at everyone's funerals even if I don't know the person. It's embarrassing.

Afterwards, Tomlin walked up to Brendan and I, and said quietly, "The smoke has stopped. It means it's finished," referring to the cremation which proceeded the ceremony. It was said with all the finality of death - yet so abstract at the same time, as if someone who once had emotions and thoughts had become an 'it'.

The cemetry was nice. It looked like a beautifully laid-out garden, with lots of little rows adn little lawns and different styles of garden - then you noticed the little plaques dotted everywhere around it. There were so many - every tree, rosebush or shrub had several next to it, in every part of the garden. The walls outside were covered in plaques.

In a way, it was nicer than a cemetrary with tombstones - I think this one only did cremations because I saw no tombstones. Brendan wants to be cremated, but I still haven't made up my mind. I still think buried for me. But it was more like a garden than anything else, and so it wasn't as, well, obvious.

But what made me feel kind of icky was that around the walls inside the hall were what I initially thought were wrought-iron wall decorations. When I looked closer, I saw behind the wrought-iron gates were shelves with urns stacked on them, with inscriptions. Why would you decorate a funeral home with urns of actual people?

2 cars needed jumper cables after the service, ours included, since we'd forgotten the lights were left on for the trip there. Oops.

The kids were so excited that they were going in the limo back to have a party at their house, they had all invited heaps of friends all waiting to see them step out of the limo when they got back. (Donna almost ran them all over.) They got out and waved like royalty to a crowd of awestruck kids.

And I finally got to meet and talk to Dan properly, because I haven't really managed to before! And yes, he is as cool as everyone says he is. He didn't remember Cabbie though. (Sorry Cabbie). He's invited us to stay with him in Cambodia at some point, which sounds really fun. (That said, given what happened to the last person...)

As we were sitting outside, a huge bug flew around and flew into the house! Oh it was soooo huge, I will have to post a photo. It's apparently some sort of soft-shelled beetle, well it certainly looks like a beetle! It elicited many screams of horror and excitement and everyone ran over to it and pointed at the doorframe where it was, kinda funny really. Then it flew onto someone, and crawled up her leg and onto her back, she was freaking out. But it was as big across as the width of my hand. Really large. I thought it was cool.

As I write this, huge cheers and come from the other house where the rest of the family and assorted randoms are getting drunk. I already have a headache. They sound like a pack of chimpanzees who have found a tasty banana tree, although I suppose if you equate the bananas with whiskey instead, this would be more true. I suspect feats of great (drunken) ingenuity are being performed, judging by the high-pitched rise and fall of the voices and the clapping at odd intervals - ooooOOOOOOOoooooo!

Oh no, the singing's started.

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