The Funeral

Post length: 739 words, about 3 and a half minutes.

Following my Grandma’s death there were things to be sorted out.  My mum spent the couple of days immediately following my Grandma’s death staying at her flat sorting out the will and funeral arrangements.  There is, apparently, quite a bit of running around to do.  The funeral happened a couple of weeks later.

In the last few days of her life my Grandma had been telling the staff in the hospital that she was a Salvationist.  She had been a member of the Salvation Army for most of her life.  Her parents were officers and she’d met my Grandfather at the officer training camp herself.  I’m not sure exactly when she stopped being a practicing member, but I do know that she’d started to get a bit mixed up with Christian Science later in her life (she had, in fact, told the nurses this was a mistake in her last few days).  My mum had asked the local Major to visit her in hospital just before she died.  I don’t think he made it.  So my mum decided, seeing as my Grandma had decided in her last few days that this was her true feelings, she should have a Salvation Army funeral.  Salvation Army funerals, as far as I can tell, are pretty much the same as any ‘standard’ Christian funeral, except the quality of the music and it being a celebration of the deceased’s life (in my opinion any funeral should be).

It was a small funeral (compared to her brother’s – he had died almost exactly a year before, but had been a professional footballer and international table tennis player!), with probably about 20 people at the Salvation Army hall.  After the service the immediate family carried on to the crematorium where we had a very short few words before committing the coffin to the crematorium oven (likely the queue for it, but it’s the symbolism which matters here).  After thanking the Salvation Army major and his wife, we headed back to my Grandma’s flat.

A few of her close family – her sister in law Molly, Molly’s children and their partners – had headed back there for a small get-together.  This was quite interesting.  We got out some of the photo albums we’d found the night before for them to look at, and to try to identify some of the people we didn’t know in the wedding photos and things.

Once they’d gone we started to sort through some of the paperwork my Grandma had built up during her life.  She used to teach accounting and was a secretary for a while and everything was sorted.  Literally everything.  Well over 20 year’s worth of stuff.  As well as all the bank statements there were some fascinating bits of history.  We found the details of her house in Southend-on-Sea from both when they bought it and when they sold it again, along with the receipt for the funeral of my Grandfather.  We also found the obituary of my Grandfather.  The thing which really struck me – I had to wander off into the spare room and have a little cry – was the line “he leaves behind a widow and 15 year old daughter.”  This was my mum.  I never knew my Grandfather, but I hadn’t realised that he’d died when my mum was just 15.

Another thing we found which I found fascinating was an email which Tim, my mum’s cousin, had sent my Grandma a few years ago with some research he’d done into the family tree.  It wasn’t very complete and he’d asked my Grandma to fill in any information she had.  She’d written a few things, but nothing all that illuminating and a few of the notes were in shorthand which no one could read.  This did set me off on a very interesting path doing some research of my own.  So far I have got back to the 1840s with concrete evidence, but have some information which points to people dating back to the late 1700s.  There’s loads more I need to do but it takes time, and at the moment time’s not something I have huge amounts of.  All being well, work permitting, I should have more time to work on it again, and I’m going to do some while I’m at home this week.

Posted on Tuesday 22nd December, 2009 at 4:56 pm in People.
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