A Funeral On Friday In Florida

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A view of Sarasota Bay & the beautiful clouds above taken from my hotel room balcony.

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Last Thursday I boarded a flight to Sarasota, FL, so that I could attend my aunt’s funeral on Friday.  Although my aunt’s health had declined during the last few years, it was still a strange feeling to travel for this reason.

I knew that it was likely that she would proceed me in death, but when the phone call came a few days after Christmas that she had passed, I was sort of stunned.  Granted at age 88 she was the last relative of the WWII generation in my family, but I think that we all thought that she’d go on forever. 

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The waterfall by the pool at my hotel. It’s all about water in Sarasota.

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Family members from all over the country attended her funeral, which was about as happy as a funeral can be.  She had lived a full & unique life– and after years of chronic illness she was ready to go.

Talking with everyone at a casual dinner the night before the funeral, all were in agreement that our aunt– or mother, or grandmother– was: generous, funny, kind, educated, creative, determined & a church lady, in the best sense of that phrase.

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Prettiness while looking across Sarasota Bay at a pink building situated underneath the blue winter FL sky.

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The service on Friday was in a lovely Episcopalian church on Siesta Key.  It was late in the afternoon and the light from the setting sun shone through the multicolored abstract stained glass windows that rimmed the top of the sanctuary.

‘Twas beautiful & inspiring in a way that perfectly summarized the goodness that was my late aunt.  And I do believe, set the stage for a wonderful, loud, cheerful family dinner afterwards at a local restaurant where everyone lifted their glass of her favorite wine, pinot grigio [or whatever they were drinking], to toast her one last time.

~ • ~ 

So long, Aunt Mary Jane.  You were the best.

Published by

Ally Bean

Observant. Creative. Humorous. Adaptable. Happy enough. Looking for the crumb of truth in the cookie of life.

25 thoughts on “A Funeral On Friday In Florida”

  1. We have one left – too many times traveled and gathered for saying final goodbyes.
    But Sarasota is so lovely – sky and water so blue. With splashed of colors inside. It does sound perfect and comforting. No doubt she smiled.

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    1. philosophermouse, I imagine she got a kick out of the whole thing. Of course, for me the funeral was the transition from being the middle generation to being the oldest generation now. Kind of trippy.

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  2. Your Aunt was indeed a decent person. Thank you for sharing experience and emotions. Many of us have or still need to go through the loss of relatives; your insight will help many keep the exprience in proper perspective.

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    1. Zen-Den, you’re right. I hadn’t thought about the fact that I’m ahead of my peers when it comes to the older generation leaving us. I have lots of experience when it comes to endings.

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  3. I have lots of experience with losing close family members and friends. None of their fare wells seemed as happy and pretty as your Aunt Mary Jane’s. She lived in a beautiful place that just looked so serene and peaceful. Glad you were able to go and be a part of that. Condolences to you my dear friend.

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    1. Beth, considering that this was the last funeral for the older generation I think that we all realized that many of us would probably not see one another ever again. So instead of being maudlin, we were joyful. That’s how MJ would have wanted it, ‘ya know?

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  4. It sounds like such a wonderful goodbye. You keep saying “that’s how she would have wanted it” and that says so much about her – that she’d want a happy gathering of family. It seems to me that that is what a funeral should be, whenever possible.

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  5. You aunt sounded like a wonderful person and I am so sorry for your loss, Ally. Reading what you wrote about you aunt makes me thing of something Norman Cousins wrote, “If something comes to life in others because of you, then you have made an approach to immortality.”
    He could be writing about your aunt, couldn’t he?

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  6. I’m sorry for your loss. I’m also glad that the funeral was somewhat happy. I’ve found that most funerals do have their laughter, as people start to come out of the extreme grief and remember the joy that the person brought to them. Usually at the gathering after.

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    1. J, I think that you’re right. The evening before we were all in good spirits, but still a bit apprehensive about what the next day would bring. But as I walked out the church after the service, all worries were lifted from me. And soon the really partying began.

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  7. She sounds like a wonderful woman who would have enjoyed her send off. The family time, beautiful weather/scenery and memories of her made the funeral more of a festive celebration of her life. (which is what I prefer!)

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    1. Margaret, one of my cousins called it a celebration of her life, too. Perfectly apt for this woman who managed to get along with everyone and have a doozy of a good time in the process. She was a helpful, humble and a hoot. Not a bad combo.

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  8. I hope that memories of me are always accompanied by smiles and wine! I’m sorry that your lovely trip was necessitated by a sad occasion. But it sounded like a fine gathering nonetheless.

    On a semi-related note, the pink stucco in Florida always charms me. I wonder if the winters in NEO would feel half so gloomy if there were pink stucco dotting our landscapes.

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    1. nance, considering why I was in Sarasota, I had a good time.

      I think that you’re onto something with the pink stucco. I suggest that you be the test subject; build a pink stucco house in your neighborhood. Then you can report back to us about whether or not the winter gloom has magically disappeared now that you see pink stucco when you drive up your driveway.

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      1. I think I’ll start with re-siding my garage. I think I’d be so much happier if I’d drive up my driveway and see a nice pink garage every single day. Let me broach the subject with Rick and see what happens! I’ll get back to you.

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