Monday, October 4, 2010

Flowers for a Jewish funeral

Twenty one years ago today, my father-in-law died of gastric cancer. It was Yom Kippur and my mother-in-law's birthday. I called her to find the address of where I should send the flowers.

What!!?! Are you crazy? Who sends flowers to a funeral?!!!

Uh, everybody?

Or the 97% of us who are not Jewish. Since my mother-in-law was so adamant, I consulted with a Jewish co-worker who agreed with her. Yes you are crazy.

Last week when we were discussing the recent death of Josh's friend's mom  due to breast cancer, he said we should send flowers. Um no, the family is Jewish.

Josh and I went to the funeral today. She was a very beloved special lady whose many friends filled the synagogue.The cantor is a woman with a remarkable voice. The husband and Josh's friend gave extremely touching memorials. There was not a dry eye in the place. Such a loss. Aside from the heart ache clearly expressed, everyone was especially articulate. Instead of Weird Al blasting inappropriate lyrics through the sound system, there were Chopin nocturnes and etudes, along with the New Age music she did her yoga to and of course, the Cantor's sung prayers.

Afterwards, Josh and I went out to eat. He is already worrying that he won't be able to give such a speech.
For whom?
Well for Julia....and I guess you.
Well odds are you won't have to worry about it for Julia.
Women generally outlive men and she is just a week older though he pointed out some medical problem she has.
For me? I guess I am not the saint his friend's mom was. Yep, it will be difficult for Josh to come up with similar stories.More incentive for him to want me alive. He did tell me that perfect mom this woman was, her son found her highly annoying while he was growing up.Her caring had been interpeted as being in his face too much. Now he sees her in a different light now that he is a grown man. He is an  extremely handsome young man and one of my favorites of Josh's friends. My heart aches for him.

One of the things stressed was this woman never said a negative thing about another. Hm. Saying negative things is more my cup of tea but I am trying to be better.

The woman was in a mother's group too. She had once mentioned to me how long lasting it was though I knew it was a safe bet that ours was older given that Shanna was almost 3 years older than her son. One of the moms in our group defected over to her group. So at least 2 people in their group had BC too. Three days before her death, she was out with her regular walking group. I do not know the details but it seems that something happened unexpectedly and suddenly. Her son thought she would be able to control the growth for at least a year or two.

Later I went to the house. There were plenty of flowers there. I did speak with the husband who had intercepted the note that I had written. When his son was on Josh's travel team, I had spoken with him plenty and had felt more comfortable with him. As someone at the funeral said, I found her beauty intimidating even though she always treated me with kindness. Her primary tumor wasn't even a tumor; stage 0, DCIS meaning the cancer had not invaded beyond the duct. She was told that the chances of it recurring were less than 3% thus no chemo. She was her2+ and her mets were responding to Herceptin which she started a month ago. She would need to be treated for the rest of her life but it was thought she had lots of life left.

What would your kids say about you at your funeral?


Teri Bernstein said...

Let's just hope my kids get safely into their....60's before I have to worry about that. Time for them to get some perspective on my shortcomings.

Holly said...

i do think about this...i have asked my former husband to officiate...he is the Episcopal bishop of son will not be able to say much because he is so sensitive - maybe he will make a video daughter will be dry eyed and detached...her father's type (emotionally)...


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