Anyway, continuing ….
All my life I have been very uncomfortable with funerals. This discomfort began in my early youth. When I first became a boy scout in 1947, my troop #78 was among many local scout troops asked to attend the funeral services of a scout master from another troop. He had been killed in an automobile accident. So, very dutifully, I joined ranks with my fellow scouts on this particular lovely Saturday morning and we were all bused to the funeral home.
We were given very specific behavior instructions. We were to form a “condolences” line that would take us one-by-one very quietly to the grieving family members, which included the wife (now widow) and the scout master’s mother. We each had a bereavement message to convey. Mine was “so sorry for your loss, ma’am.” Others had different messages, but the mission of each was to impart some measure of comfort to the bereaved.
The line moved tediously, each scout dutifully conveying his prescribed message first to the wife, then to the mother. When finally my turn came, I too conveyed “so sorry for …”, but before I could get my words out, the wife convulsively exploded in tears, grabbed me and buried her face in my chest screaming “Oh God!, Oh God!” GEEZ, had I messed up my message? I didn’t even get it out. What could have happened? All Eyes turned in my direction. And just before I passed out in utter embarrassment, the wife’s mother saved me. She gently pulled her daughter-in-law from me, caressed and consoled her, then apologized to me. At that moment I was not able to convey my message because in the trauma of the moment I had FORGOTTEN IT.
Upon returning to the bus, a couple of my buddies said “Oooh, what’s that on your shirt?” I looked down to see my here-to-fore clean and pressed scout shirt covered in tearful drool. What I most remember besides the embarrassment was that the bereaved wife was very attractive. Even at 12 years of age I was able to appreciate her loveliness…..even though she was an “old” lady, probably around 30.
When I got home I told my mother about the experience and she, with great motherly sagacity, said “The lady was very sad.” So I gave that little piece of wisdom some serious thought, then managed to get my day back to normal.
I cited this story to explain why I am rather funeral-shy. I’ve since learned that “silence” speaks volumes….a gentle hug or handshake, no words.
Getting back to the general subject of “ceremonies” I can’t recall ever attending a graduation ceremony that wasn’t boring …. except one…. which I will save for another post.