January 3, 2002

Remembering


Three of us - the Housemate, Mark (son, age 20) and I - were at a funeral today.

Yet another funeral.

This one was a long-time friend of the Housemate's - part of his golf and bowling groups and a member of the same local charity fundraising associations.
He was a well-known fixture in the Montreal Jewish community.

A good deal older than we are, he died "of natural causes" but only four weeks after being robbed and beaten at his place of business.
It happens here too.

Mark attended because he had joined the group for golf all summer.
Twenty year olds should be out drag racing and going to strip clubs and getting high, not playing golf with senior citizens. Oh well...

It was a nice, dignified Jewish funeral.
Except (to my mind) for part of the eulogy.

The deceased was a good man, who was close to friends and family and had a stellar business reputation; but he, like everyone, wasn't perfect.
There were enough good things to say about him to fill many eulogies - so why were things said that were blatantly obviously untrue, even to a casual observer like myself?

I won't get into specifics; suffice it to say that it's nothing scandalous. It would be comparable in importance to making it a point to say, about me, that "She was a spotless housekeeper." It's just. not. true.
And that's fine. It's not the end of the world. It's a human flaw.

The same thing happened at a funeral I attended several months ago.
I sat there wondering why were they saying these things when anyone close enough to the family to be there would know they weren't true.

I don't blame the rabbis for this - they say what the family tells them to say.
But why would a family make it a point to appear hypocritical? Are they trying to rewrite history? Is it wishful thinking?
It's embarrassing.

If the person in question was (for instance) a cheapskate: don't say he lavished generosity on all who came near him.
If he never left Eastern Canada, don't say he was a world traveller.
(both hypothetical examples I made up to illustrate the point.)
Just say nothing about those issues.
Say what really was good about the person. There is always something.

When I got home I gathered both my kids together and told them, in no uncertain terms, that when I die I don't want things said that would make people roll their eyes.

They rolled their eyes.

But I think they'll remember.


Linque Du Jour:   Acme's Journal, Dec. 24, 2001
Online journaller and apparent perl geek happened to be on AA flight 63 last month.
First hand account of what went on with the now-legendary shoe-bomber.


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