Farewells In This Time Of Covid

Coffee and a double-biography, snapped a few hours ago…

[Photo by me, Potton, England, April 6, 2020.]

And now, this. I took that as we decompressed earlier upon returning home. My father’s-in-law’s “sort of” funeral was held today at lunchtime in one of the chapels in a London crematoria.

He died on March 16 at age 89 (essentially of natural causes). Only 11 of us were permitted to attend. Social distancing had to be maintained to the point that we were in individual chairs separated by 6ft/2m and all had to wear disposable gloves.

A priest – who is also a long-time family friend – presided. My wife did a reading… and did it perfectly, not a crack to her voice. (Sitting in the back of the room, I had flashbacks to my mother’s funeral service… and offering the eulogy. She handles herself usually in ways that can only inspire my greatest of respect. I often find myself asking: “She married me?”) Her younger brother and the four grandkids (between 17 and 22) who were able to attend all had trouble getting through the bidding prayers.

We live in remarkable times, the priest stated. Indeed it was the strangest funeral I have ever attended – I am sure any of us have attended. It was over in less than 45 minutes. There could be no hugging, or even standing too closely together, with those with whom you are not currently living while under “lockdown.” At her father’s funeral, my wife could not hug her own mother.

Yet in another way it was “perfect.” It was not overflowing with hangers-on-ers who just sort of knew my father-in-law. Nor did we have to put up with irritating extended family. It was, essentially, a small service for only the closest of his family at the time of his death.

[The Jerusalem Roman Catholic Bible. Produced for England and Wales. Photo by me, April 6, 2020.]

There will at some point be a memorial service for all of those who could not attend. It will probably be held around what would have been his 90th birthday in August. Assuming of course that life has to some extent returned to normal by then.

All the best, wherever you are in the world.

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