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Three score and ten or more

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Utah, day 3 (for those who haven't lost interest)

Up early, dressed appropriately and Ryan and I set off for the chapel so that we would be there for vocal rehearsal by 8:30.   When we arrived, they were just opening the building so that some of the Relief Society sisters could get in to set up tables for the luncheon for the family that was to follow the funeral.  I had a chance to chat with Alice, my brother's wife, and actually give her the Christmas present that I never had mailed.  (I wasn't that was the time and  place, but she seemed pleased  I wandered around wondering what was keeping Kathy, so I got out the trusty cell phone and gave her a call.  She and her accompanist were at the house where we had been staying.  I obviously didn't clearly understand where we were to meet, but she assured me that she would be at the chapel in forty minutes (good time ).  

Friends and relatives were beginning to file in from both near and far, and I hadn't seen most of them for a long time.   The "viewing" was to start  at nine.   (I have to confess that "viewing" or "wake' or whatever it is called in various parts of the country is not my favorite part of a funeral.   I enjoy meeting all the people who come, but my appreciation of the even itself is colored by and experience from many years ago when I attended one that was given for a neighbor and a man picked up his little boy -about four or five years old I think- to have him kiss his grandma in the casket and the little boy was terrified.  It was a total negative).  I wandered about the room, taking pictures of all my distant kin and wondering if that was totally appropriate, but I did it.

Kathy showed up about ten if I remember right and we went to a side room where there was a piano to rehearse.  It was quite and experience.  Her accompanist was very good, and was able to adjust and coach as well as play the piano.  Kathy pointed out that she and her late husband had sung How Great Thou Art as a duet many times and that they had generally sung the chorus for the first verse, then sung the nest three stanzas without the chorus, saving the chorus as a sort of finale for the last stanza.   I had never done it that way, but it seemed okay to me.  I suggested that if we did it that way, Kathy could sing the melody for the first verse and I would sing the bass  part, then for the next verses we could take turns with the melody and for the last verse and chorus we would both sing melody.  We tried this and it seemed okay though Kathy was straining a bit to sing the alto as a part.  I suggested that she might ad-lib and obligato (actuallly I used some other word, but I meant obligato) when I was singing the melody.  We went through it a couple of times with Kathy experimenting with the parts.  It seemed fine but when I went back, Kathy stayed to work on some parts with her accompanist.

The funeral was very nice with talks preceding mine by both of Doug's sons (One did a sort of Eulogy which was very nice)  My sister said the invocation a trio combining representatives of both Doug's family and Alice's family sang very well, and several of the grandchildren from both families sang Love One Another which was a request Doug had made before he passed.  Then it was our turn.

I have mentioned in previous posts how frustrated I had become in the last few months with my inability to be the kind of choir singer I have been for years, but this was a different experience.

We began the first stanza and obviously had missed communication because Kathy sang alto and I sang bass and left the melody to the accompaniment.  It felt very good though and I went to the melody for the first chorus and Kathy went to the obligato and chills went up my spine.  Our voices complimented each other,and though we skipped back and forth with parts in the stanzas I just felt a swelling within me that I hadn't felt for a long time.  I have often gone to tears while singing but I haven't often felt a kind of electricity that almost made my hair stand on end.  I dearly wish that we had taped the song or copiied it some way just so I could hear if it as as good for the audience as it was for the singers.  (Yes, tears were coming down my face as well, but I don't think any one heard them)  It was, I think as good a tribute to my brother and to our Savior as I was capable of giving.

It was then time for me to speak and I had a momentary urge to just walk to the pulpit and say "I just said it all, I have nothing more to give". but as a conservative old tradionalist  I gave the speech as well as I knew how.  

Alice's son's then sang a nice trio, and the Bishop of the Ward spoke for a few minutes and we concluded by singing, as a congregation God Be With You Till We Meet Again  and Doug's stepson Charles gave the Benediction.  We drove off to the cemetery for the interment. 

I'm really through with this day, except that I notice that Utah isn't the South.  In the South when a funeral cortege moves along, there is a cop in front and one behind and one that controls traffic as it goes, and noone stops for lights or stop signs, and most of the other cars pull off to the side of the road in respect of the cortege.  In Utah, the hearse leads off and if you are at the rear, and you don't know the directions you may get lost, because cars pull in and out around you, get in front of you a stop signs  and, quite honestly I thought we were lost for a little while.

After the burial, we returned to the chapel where they provided a nice meal and we ate and visited, and introduced ourselves to those we didn't know and it was pleasant, if somber.  It broke up a little earlier than it might have because they were predicting snow in the mountains and some folks had to get over those mountains.

Final day and my ultimate frustration with air travel  coming up soon.


At 9:03 PM, Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

I had never experienced a "viewing" of the corpse till coming to the USA. Maybe they do it now in SA but, in my youth, the corpse was put in a box without fancy make-up and the lid was closed.

Experiencing my first "viewing" was macabre. The corpse bore little resemblance to the person and I found it all a bit creepy.


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