Well I just got back from my first funeral. It was my favourite Auntie Issy's funeral and it was everything I DON'T want my funeral to be.
I guess I've done well to reach 34 and never been to a funeral. But I hope I don't have to go to another soon and I *really* don't know how I will cope at my parents' funeral, which is inevitable at some point in the future.
We all met at Issy's house and we rode in the hearse that followed the coffin. I couldn't look at the coffin in front of me, I didn't 'want to imagine her lying in there all cold - I wanted to remember her as I last saw her or heard her on the phone when we last spoke. Her body to me was just an empty vessel, no longer relevant to her or who she was.
Nobody spoke during the journey to the crem, and when they did it was in hushed whispers. Some people say that the silence and the hush is for "respect for the dead". But to me it seemed to sit all wrong, I'd not want this for my funeral - I'd want AC/DC on the stereo playing "Hell's Bells" or something.
We arrived at the crem and I only got upset the one time, when the pall bearers lifted the coffin out and into the church. It still seemed to me that she wasn't in there, that it was empty. I guess in a way it was.
Being an agnostic, the whole "God" thing just doesn't appeal to me. Walking into the modern-built Crem church and sitting down, I listened to the preacher's Bible waffle with an acrid ear. It all sounded like such empty poetic bullshit. We stood for the hymns but I couldn't sing them, I felt like too much of a fat hypocrite. God this, God that, death is the beginning of a new life in His kingdom etc etc. I guess it's fine if you believe all of that and if it comforts you, but it just irritated me. I absolutely do NOT want a religious funeral. And the coffin - why spend all that money and wood on a coffin that is just going to be burned? Waste of money and resources.
Put me in a cardboard coffin, bury me along with a newly planted tree, and leave me to fertilise the tree and feed the worms. No God, no religion, just a darn good party with Benny Goodman on the stereo and nobody talking in hushed whispers. And strictly NO black. Bright colours only, and a celebration of my life that was, not a mourning of my life now gone.
Issy had a fabulous and interesting life and I saw this as NOT a fitting way to end it. It was too quiet, too miserable, too drab, and too rushed. I will miss her and the regular phone calls we had, and I wish I could have seen her one more time before she died, but in a way I'm glad she's gone, as her quality of life was getting bad and her 80-a-day habit had finished off her lungs to the point that she could barely breathe. She seemed ready to go and join my uncle John, who died over 4 years ago. I know that they are together again somewhere and I know that they are both happy.
Then to finish the weekend off I had a huge row with my mother when we got back to Norwich, about her total negativity about everything in my life and her inability to see the positive or the good in ANYTHING I had done with the house since she last saw it. Since they arrived on Wednesday night I have heard nothing but a string of whinges (now you know where I get it from!) about the downstairs loo, the rats being smelly, the hall floor, the wood floor in the lounge, the kitchen as a whole, the bench in particular, the garden, the fact my front door doesn't have a curtain, the fact that my cafe-net in the kitchen means that neighbours can see in (like yeah, they spend all day queueing up to look into my kitchen), and the limescale stain on the front wall needs scrubbing off, the shrubs I've chosen for the garden will grow too big, the compost bin I've started won't work "because mine never did" and the fact that my house is "full of clutter" (which it totally isn't compared to her chintzy cluttered house).
I spent the journey from Norwich to Swindon and then back again plugged into my MP3 player, just to drown out her droning negativity - and I got bollocked for that and called "very rude" because I wasn't talking to anyone. When she started to work herself up into a frenzy because my dad wasn't' stopping for any petrol, I could take no more and everything blew up.
She went upstairs in tears for hours, my dad came down and gave me the "your mother is really upset" speech, and then it was my turn to explode and say that I was sick of her constant negativity and her sniping at everything about the house - the house that I had worked hard on since she'd last seen it, the garden that I had dug over myself and broke my back on, all my seedlings that were successfully sprouting, and most of all, my Fuzzbutt sewing venture that I had started from scratch with no prior sewing knowledge - I'd drafted the patterns, worked on prototypes, developed some great products, had positive feedback from the testers, had made over £900 worth of stock all by myself, all ready to sell on and make some extra money for myself - and what had she said to me?
"If I'd not given you that sewing machine you'd have spent more time on the house instead of up here"
YEAH GREAT MUM, THANKS. The f*cking house isn't going anywhere, it's perfectly liveable in, and there is plenty of time to get all the remaining jobs finished on it - as and when I get the money to finish them (which is where Fuzzbutt will help I hope).
Somehow you can feel like you've done a great job, but if your parents themselves don't say you've done a great job - then you don't feel like you have anymore. I have to stop caring what she thinks cos it's destroying me. She's downstars now watching telly, they're going home tomorrow. I'm off for a bath. I can't talk to her at the minute as we will just argue again. This had to happen, it had to be said. Her negativity and constant moaning has already driven my brother to hardly visit her any more, and it will get like that with me too if this carries on. I'm negative enough without her crap weighing on my shoulders too.
But I hate feeling angry towards her, I hate upsetting her. Cos when the day comes that her coffin is carried into a church in front of me, I know I will regret every cross word.