A friend with whom I worked for many years on a town board was laid to rest yesterday with the last call for a Fire Chief.
Like the last radio call at a police officer’s funeral, an announcement directed that he was “not to respond to the station again.”
He did not respond only to calls of duty. When Jim was sick, he managed to make him smile by snapping a picture of an enormous moose across the street from our house, heading towards our driveway. He was not afraid to check in on me, and during Jim’s last holiday season he made sure to tell me that it did not seem right to wish us happy holidays, but that he was thinking of us and hoping we could all be together.
This service called to mind my husband’s closing ceremonies in many ways–not least given the identical hymns, including the Naval Hymn, and responsive scriptural readings. In both services there was laughter in the remembrances, and light intensified and shined through stained glass in a New England church as the ceremony came to a close.
My husband and he shared many characteristics: both were (very tall) gentle men of integrity dedicated to family and service. They loved being outdoors, and were skilled at making living things thrive.
At this service the congregation sang, “I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses. . . ”
At Jim’s service one of our sons read Amy Gerstler’s poem, In Perpetual Spring:
Children sat through both ceremonies, including this gentle man’s beloved young grandchildren–the ones everyone knew, through their grandfather, outshone even the denizens of Lake Wobegone by being more handsome, more beautiful, and far smarter and more talented than any average group of children.
I thought about what it might be like from their perspectives, dressed up and held by grieving parents, surrounded by hundreds of somber, towering people they had never before seen. I wanted them to know that they were their grandfather’s world, but that other people in his other families–the Navy, the fire department, the communities in which he worked and lived–would remember him too.
(c) 2012 Stephanie M. Glennon