One of Barbar's very close friends for many years was a minister. In thinking about a nickname for her, I'm reminded that she always reminded me of the TV character Maude. She was able to lead the service today, celebrating Barbar's "graduation."
Barbar was a Christian. I think it speaks highly of her, at least in my own experience of Christianity and faith, that to say Barbar was a Christian does not imply anything about the faith of those who cared for her. I was pleased that Maude was able to both speak about Barbar's faith, and what her death means to her, and do so in such a way as to not assume that those here to honor her memory held the same beliefs.
I think that Barbar would have been pleased.
That sums up the day. She wanted us to be happy for her, to celebrate her life.
The service began with words from Maude. She called this Barbar's graduation. I can't really sum up the rest of her words.
There was quite a lot of music in the service. Barbar had a Master's degree in Music, an MM. Which she always said was really the only thing to do, once you'd gotten the Bachelor's. You just couldn't stop with a BM, she'd say. She had a beautiful soprano singing voice, and taught voice, piano and organ in her home for many years. So when she planned out her service (in June, before her surgery), she made all of the musical selections.
Critter played Ode to Joy on his trumpet. I cried. We call it a trumpet. Technically, it's a cornet, given to Critter by Barbar, one on which she learned to play when she was in school.
Maude read the Good News version of The Lord's Prayer.
Matt's brother, Brolly (ooh, ooh, I have already gotten around to nicknaming him), rented a reel-to-reel player, as at least one of the selections that Barbara made was on a reel of audio tape. He put together all of the musical selections on one CD so that it could be played at the funeral home.
The first of these selections was If Ever I Would Leave You from Camelot. I'm restraining myself from including song lyrics, but it is a song that always chokes me up. I cried.
After that, a good friend of Brolly's read "Old House Poem" by Joyce Kilmer. Which is to say, he read the first verse of The House with Nobody in It, which is what she used to quote as she passed by an old house on the way to Brolly's in Winchester.
Whenever I walk to Suffern along the Erie track
I go by a poor old farmhouse with its shingles broken and black.
I suppose I've passed it a hundred times, but I always stop for a minute
And look at the house, the tragic house, the house with nobody in it.
This was followed by Sunrise, Sunset, from Fiddler on the Roof. I cried. I had always associated this song with weddings, as it in placed in the musical. But a funeral is another stage in the circle of life, and Barbar recognized this in choosing this song about that circle.
Maude then spoke. The program said reflections. She chose Patience as her theme, but I can't remember specific stories that she told and read, now.
The next song was the one I know came from an audio reel. A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes from Cinderella. This recording was from Barbar's last production when teaching in Lake Worth, Florida. I believe Brolly said the recording was made in 1953. Yet another song that brings tears to my eyes.
Then Brolly's oldest daughter stood by her mom and read a poem that Barbar had written after her first hot air balloon ride, in 1990. Barbar did very well at capturing the feeling of the ride in words. A line that made me cry, speculated about whether a certain part of the ride was what it would be like to die.
The next piece of music was Out of Africa. This song was played during the last trip that she made with her mother and step-father.
Then Matt led a talking circle. He spoke about his mother, then tossed a ball of yarn to the next to share a story. Many people shared funny stories, many people shared stories that made me cry, and as each spoke, the yarn passed around the circle, generating interconnections that helped to illustrate how Barbar had touched so many.
Maude read Barbar's closing thoughts.
The final music was Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring which was the recessional played at Brolly's wedding.
After the service, while the others went out and got all organized about being a funeral procession, there were the final moments to say goodbye to Barbar. No matter how alien and other the used up, fixed up, dead body seems -- no matter how Not Barbar -- there was a strong focus to direct the grief, the goodbyes, the care. Flar and I both intend to be cremated after death, but I realize the importance of that release of emotion that comes from having that focus. I understand there are still viewings possible for cremation, and will probably want that, knowing that
I saw the pain, the sorrow, the pure grief, at her side.
I felt and saw the difference later, with Flar, with Brolly, with Bébé even. They all expressed that it was easier, a little, after saying goodbye.
The graveside service was short.
Maude spoke of the symbolism of burial. (I personally believe that the connection she spoke of to the earth is still capably achieved in cremation.)
Then Critter played Taps on his cornet, while Tigger played a drumroll on the snare drum that Barbar gave him. She actually apologized to me for giving my son a drumset for his 8th birthday (the noise, you know), but I was thrilled that she did. After all, I married a drummer. ;) Once again, I cried.
After that, Brolly's girls handed out little bubble bottles for us to use to celebrate, to have some fun like Barbar wanted. many bubbles filled the air, and little happy sounds from people enjoying life.
We returned to the funeral home to gather all the flowers and pictures and mementos, then went to Bébé's house. Starmaiden and Kittybane had gone ahead to help the next-door neighbor set out food, so everything was done by the time we arrived.
There were so many people, and so many flowers and so much food. So many dishes that were traditional for Barbar. The traveling cookies that I brought, the "Honor Society Punch," the cold duck, Twizzlers hidden in the cabinet, and on and on.
We got Brolly to tell the "Jimmy Dunn" joke. He did a passable job, after he and Wolf both spoke to the difficulty of finding a version of it on the web. Later, he mentioned updating the punchline. Which gave me a thought tonight, when I decided to give a look myself. I searched on the original punchline, and found a version of the joke:
A guy and a lady meet in Heathrow Airport in London and they are talking to each other while waiting for their respective planes. They soon discover that they are both from Ireland. The lady is going to see her daughter in France. The guy tells her that he is going to New York City on business. When she hears that he is going to New York she tells him that her son, John Dun, lives there but that she hasn't heard from him in over ten years; that she writes him often but he never replies; and that if the man should run into him there, he should remind him to write his mother. The man realizes that New York is a big place but when he arrives there and sees the offices of Dun And Bradstreet, he decides to go inside to see if he can find the lady's son. He goes over to the front receptionist desk and asks, "do you have a John here?"
"Why yes we do," is the reply, " it is right down that hall, the second door on the left." The man goes down the hall and discovers the men's room and goes in. Another man is leaving one of the stalls and he asks him, "are you done?"
"Yes, I am," is the reply.
"Well, for God's sake, write your mother!"
The truth is, for years, after she told each of us the joke individually for the first time, she stopped telling the whole joke. But the punchline -- "For God's sake, write your mother!" tended to be zapped at poor innocents who replied positively after meals to the setup line: "are you done?" Her original version included an outhouse, and I swear we all called it the "Jimmy Dunn" joke. But, no wonder a search came up blank, eh?
I hadn't even realized myself that was beginning to OD on people, when it was time for someone to leave to pick up Critter in Mt. Sterling. You see, Maude lives in Indianapolis and Brolly had arranged for her to be flown to Lexington on a private plane, based at the Mt. Sterling airport. And Critter got to hitch a ride on the plane, on the flight to return Maude to Indianapolis and the plane to Mt. Sterling. So, someone was needed to drive to Mt. Sterling and back, and Flar asked me to do it. It got me out of the house before the crowd got to me. Mom and Dad went me with, as well as Starmaiden and Kittybane. We had a nice time chatting on the way out and back.
While we were gone, the house had been put back to order, and much of the puttings aways (of food for Bébé) and divvying ups (of flowers) had been started. The house was also emptied of all but family, and Buck, a longtime friend of Bébé's.
Brolly's family left in the late afternoon, to attend Mass on Saturday night (and enable Sunday morning sleeping in). We stuck around long enough for them to return, and give more time for the cousins to play together.
Unfortunately, at least for Tigger, probably too long. I think it was just too long a day for him, with too many strong emotions rolling all around him. It seems that Tigger is developing even more empathy than Critter has, and the long day, and Tigger's own sorrow, and the emotions of those around him all piled up to neatly burst over the handiest trigger during play. Tigger decided he needed to climb up the magnolia in the backyard, until he cheered up. This would have been fine, at least until dark, but he climbed at least 20 feet up, and got pretty much all the adults worried about him. How I wish this were Disney, and that we could have turned the screen sideways.
One of the worries was that Tigger might be uncertain about climbing down, to add to being sad, and that he might not be able to come down if we didn't help. Eventually, after getting Critter (the lightest, tallest, slimest choice) to attempt to climb up and help, TIgger climbed down on his own. He and I went to the middle bedroom, and talked about sad, and about little sad and big sad, and Barbar, and coping, and persevering. And eventually, something seemed to work, because a few minutes after we left the room, he was cheerfully helping to clean up the middle bedroom of all the miscellaneous puzzles and toys, and was mostly just subdued on the ride home.
At home, he got to select a movie to watch with Flar and Critter, and then went on to bed upstairs.
My parents took Moulin Rouge upstairs to watch on Daddy's laptop, Flar went to his office to call Gaucha (and wrote her email when he couldn't reach her), and I read email and live journal, while bringing in the stuff we brought back from Bébé's. For some reason or other, while I was going out to the car, I started humming Joy is Like the Rain, and it got to me enough to want to do run a search for lyrics. So one set of lyrics:
JOY IS LIKE THE RAIN
I saw raindrops on my window, Joy is like the rain.
Laughter runs across my pain, slips away and comes again.
Joy is like the rain.
I saw clouds upon a mountain, Joy is like a cloud.
Sometimes silver, sometimes grey, always sun not far away.
Joy is like a cloud.
I saw Christ in wind and thunder, Joy is tried by storm.
Christ asleep within my boat, whipped by wind, yet still afloat.
Joy is tried by storm.
I saw raindrops on the river, Joy is like the rain.
Bit by bit the river grows, till at once it overflows.
Joy is like the rain.
It wasn't raining. It was a day of sadness with a purpose of celebration. Perhaps this was God's way of reminding me about the joy that is part of celebration -- and Barbar's plan for this day.
And now I can go to bed, to wake whenever I want, or whenever the boys call in my promise of banana pancakes -- whichever comes first.
A long day. An important day. Another step in the process.