Saying Goodbye

We lost two friends recently. Both died far too soon. They differed in very many ways yet with both, we could never get enough of their zest for life, their exuberance and their love.

 Ram and his wife were amongst the first of our new friends after we retired and moved to north Florida. “Only Connect,”  E M Forster admonishes us in Howards End – Ram didn’t need that advice, the desire and ability to connect flowed absolutely naturally from him, with his broad smile, infectious laugh, impish humor, and his deep wells of compassion. As we remembered him at the celebration of life that preceded the formal Hindu rites, I had the impression that we all shared joy tinged with regret. Regret that we would no longer walk the golf course with him, witness him kneel and attempt CPR on the goose he had struck with his ball. Regret there would be no more raucous meals where he didn’t spare the hot sauce. Regret there’d be no more tender moments when you felt the intensity of his attention, respect, and affection. And, there was so much joy, that we had the luck to experience all this, to know this exceptional man. Soon, it was time to say “farewell” with the religious ceremony conducted in Sanskrit by a priest wearing traditional dress.  Sweet, piquant aromas of herbs, spices, flowers and coconut oil swirled through the room to accompany Ram on his eternal journey. Fare well.

Who plays at their own memorial service?  Jane does

If we hadn’t known about her special relationships with beloved husband, family, friends, and pets, if we hadn’t known of her love for entertaining, her passion for college football, we would have said her entire life was consumed by music. We learned Jane enjoyed a book entitled, Being Dead is no Excuse, so it was no real surprise that a recording of her lyrical piano playing introduced her memorial service.

An extremely accomplished musician, Jane was not the least bit selfish with her gifts. Almost singe-handedly, (okay, she conducted with both hands,) Jane developed a chamber music group, with sixty to seventy singers, a women’s chorus, and a non-profit to provide musical instruments and tuition to local children.  We first met her in her capacity as Music Director at the church she and her husband founded together with a few other folk.  Lucky church!   Jane appreciated, participated in, and arranged music that extends far beyond the classical and sacred repertoire.  As we remembered her, we tapped our toes to jazz, mouthed the words of Disney and Broadway songs as well as wondering at the massed choirs and the soloists.  All that music carried that familiar feeling of joy tinged with regret.  And there was triumph too – as the jazz band, New Orleans style, swung from elegy to a zappy rendition of “For All the Saints,” declaring, for all the world, that not only is being dead no excuse – it cannot subdue the spirit that is Jane.

Like most of us, I have attended too many funerals in my time. There are occasions when, inevitably, grief overwhelms and the moment must recognize and mourn the loss, but when we can, let’s honor the life we share.

News Flash!

Watch out for exciting changes to Salt Spray and Aspens next month
– and a sneak peak at my forthcoming novel.

End Notes

Reading

The Witness Tree 

The Witness Tree
Terri Morison Kaiser

Listening

New World Order
Curtis Mayfield 

Chanson de Matin Op.15, No. 2
Edward Elgar

Poetry

For a New Beginning
John O’Donoghue

 

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