I dress up. After all, I invented the event. I am the grandmother. Actually, the grande dame. I have no idea how to spell gran dam and do not want to interrupt my flow to googlecheck.
What shall I wear. I think of white and lace. High collar. I don’t want to look like a bride. This is not a wedding. But not a funeral. Well, sort of a funeral. A joyous funeral.
Not the kind of funeral that people who don’t want to talk about death, nor hear about it, prefer instead to call a memorial, or even a celebration of the life of So And So, their husband of 10 years, ie their late husband, the one they married late in the life of. But that’s snide, and gratuitously so; people who were married for 50 years or more to the same person also hold memorial celebrations of their dead spouses, instead of funeral. I could delete this paragraph, but it too is a clue. (digression. Insert later )
The presumption in both cases, sad funeral or celebratory memorial, is that the dearly departed, was dear to those gathered together. That they are sad to see her, or him, go. That their passing away is a loss. I don’t hear people saying “So and So passed away” much anymore. More they say “We lost So and So.” And in 2020 (I hope less so in 2021) they say “We lost So and So to Covid.” They used to also say “We lost So and So to cancer.” I notice I capitalizied Covid, but not cancer. Cancer became lower case. Remember when it used to just be whispered “big C”?
Anyway this event, where I expect to be singled out and applauded, but will modestly decline to come up front and make a speech, is not a funeral nor a memorial for anyone whom anyone will even pretend to mourn. No one is going to have to try to think of something good to say about someone they didn’t know, but felt obligated to show up to sign the guest book, be seen, be counted as having cared enough to come. I pause again. Who will peruse the guest book? The funeral director, but people didn’t show up to counted by the funeral director. And I am not the director. I turned that function over to others who could be trusted to do it properly, properly enough to pull it off. And that had to be very proper. I do want to know who showed up to be counted, but I’m not who they showed up to be counted by nor with whom. Who is it with whom those who show up to be counted want to be counted with? I’m offering as a sociological hypothesis here: They want to be counted by everyone else who showed up. By the community, to which everyone who shows up belongs, in which everyone who shows up is the equal of everyone else who showed up to be counted: Presente! Salute, raise fist, embrace, hug and kiss. For some it is the community. For others, like politicians, it is one of their many communities, which need not overlap. Well, maybe at least a little.
The point is that the event is a ritualized observation of a death, or at the very least, of the certain irreversible fact that the patient will not recover ever. They will remain comatose, regardless of expense and scientific advances to keep their heart pumping, their feeding tube filled with sugar, their colonoscopy bag emptied and perfumed. You know, of course, the house in Jonesboro and the one on St. Charles were built decades after the Civil War, after click here.
updated Dec 31, 2020 Now quarantining in Indianola, TX Please feel free to use anything here and I'll be honored if you do but please include a link to peggydobbins.net