Another Spectrum

Personal ramblings and rants of a somewhat twisted mind

Mother-in-Law’s funeral

4 Comments

I guess as one gets older, the more inevitable it is that the frequency of attending funerals increases. Except in my case, it seems to be the frequency of not attending funerals of those important to me.

Last year I was able to be present at my mother’s funeral, but I was unable to attend my father’s funeral a few years earlier. Two years ago My father-in-law passed away, and due to failure of communications, we didn’t learn of his death until several weeks after the funeral. Last year a very dear aunt died, and I was fortunate to be able to attend.

A little over a month ago, another favourite aunt died, but due to another migraine, and distance, I was unable to attend the funeral. Fortunately, I was able to watch the service via a live link over the Internet – a very common practice here these days due to tendency of Kiwis to scatter widely.

Then in the late hours of Sunday (or possibly early hours of Monday NZ time), my mother-in-law passed away. We learnt the news mid Monday morning. The funeral was held at 1:00 pm Japan time or 4:00 pm NZ time on Tueday – less than 10 hours ago as I write this. Neither my wife nor I could attend.

When you live at the end of the world that is Aotearoa New Zealand, it’s is an unfortunate fact of life that the rest of the world is a long, long way away. While there’s plenty of flights in and out of the country, direct flights to any specific city in the world are few and far between, and even using a series of connecting flights can extend a journey out to several days.

Take for for example a trip from our home town to the city where my mother-in-law’s funeral was held. My wife could have started her journey on Monday afternoon by flying to Auckland, but she would have been stranded there until Thursday, as that is when the next flight to Japan leaves. By the time she cleared customs, it would be too late to catch a flight or bullet train that evening, so it wouldn’t be until mid morning on Friday that she arrived at her family’s home town – three days after the funeral!

A frantic search for less direct routes proved fruitless as no option could get my wife home any earlier than Thursday regardless of the seating class. So another funeral missed.

We’re not doing too well in the Funeral attendance stakes. Let’s hope there’s no one keeping tabs. I would hope that there’ll be more than my own children present at mine.

I nearly made a terrible faux pas today. Had I not caught myself mid-sentence, I think I would have been “persona non grata” for a very long time. Sometimes humour does not transfer well from one culture to another.

After my mother’s cremation, we returned to the home my mother and sister shared, and as we tend to do in the warm months, we removed our ties etc and sat out on the terrace under the shade cloth and each opened a bottle of beer. My three siblings and I had just sat down at a table, and I was in the process of taking the first sip gulp (funerals are thirsty work) when one of my brothers quipped “You know… we’re orphans now!”

The next moment I was snorting beer out my nose as I and the other two siblings collapsed in laughter. Today I found myself saying the same thing, but I managed to stop myself just before “orphan”, and redirect it to a suggestion of what we might have for tea (Kiwi-speak for dinner or evening meal). Whew! Saved by the skin of my teeth. That’s humour that would be close to unforgivable as far as my wife is concerned, whether it was said yesterday or in 5 years time, bless her wonderful heart 🙂

Whose funeral will I miss next? While I’d be happy to miss my own, age, migraines and distance, means I’m probably going to miss many more.

Author: Barry

A post war baby boomer from Aotearoa New Zealand who has lived with migraines for as long as I can remember and was diagnosed as being autistic aged sixty. I blog because in real life I'm somewhat backwards about coming forward with my opinions.

4 thoughts on “Mother-in-Law’s funeral

  1. My condolences for the loss of your family members.

  2. I think my brother made a similar comment after my mother’s death (my father died previously), and we laughed, too. I also recall that at my dad’s funeral luncheon, we were all telling stories and laughing outrageously, and my mom made the comment that people would think we were celebrating instead of mourning. But the fact is, that after a death, sometimes you need laughter to relieve the stress and reaffirm your own existence. I hope that when I die, my kids will feel free to laugh when they remember me. I’d rather be remembered with laughter than tears. (And if none of them are able to attend the service, that’s ok, too – they can always exchange emails or something.)

    • The concept of a funeral being a place/time for mourning, has long gone here in Aotearoa New Zealand, In fact the word funeral is seldom used for the service itself but still retained for the business that provides the service – funeral directors. Just like in marriages, the person overseeing the service is often call the celebrant as for most families it’s a time to celebrate the life of the deceased person. More often than not, public announcements of when the service is to be held, will announce it as a “service to celebrate the life of…”.

  3. My condolences for your loss.
    The sad facts of life is we are not present at some of the most important events of our life. Our birth is told to us and our death. I would like to be present at my funeral just to laugh at my enemies 🙂

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