Friday, January 05, 2007

Think: Six Feet Under Soundtrack

Years ago, I stole Florida Scott-Maxwell's The Measure of My Days from my grandmother's library. Although the author was a mere 82 when she wrote it, every page brims with wisdom about the process of aging. I used a bit of it in my eulogy yesterday, in which I tried to recall the woman my grandmother was at various points in her life and also to acknowledge the terrible decline of her last years:

We who are old know that age is more than a disability. It is an intense and varied experience, almost beyond our capacity at times, but something to be carried high. If it is a long defeat it is also a victory, meaningful for the initiates of time, if not for those who have come less far. … [The aged carry the secret that] though drab outside … inside we flame with a wild life that is almost incommunicable.

As for those of us who have come less far, we tried our best and did pretty well. My only suggestion might be that those who have not been legal members of a family for a decade, and who have had no contact with the deceased for longer than that, choose flowers rather than presence as a means of offering their condolences when a funeral service is planned with family intimacy in mind. One who does not heed such a Miss Manners admonition may find herself responsible for racheting stress levels to the almost intolerable.

But perhaps I am unrealistic. My family would not be my family without its uncanny resemblance to certain aspects of Six Feet Under.

4 comments:

Laura said...

So sorry for your loss. Hope that you are doing OK.

Quotidian Grace said...

Good advice,GG. Keeping you and the family in prayer.

Carol said...

Beautiful thoughts, GG. Sorry to hear that not all of your grandmother's descendants knew the advice you offered.

Kathryn said...

Families are like that. I think I'm going to look for that book.

I hope the wonderful memories you have with your grandmother fill your thoughts and erase those of the stress at her funeral.

Thoughts and prayers.