Aunt Miriam died yesterday. She was 100 years and six months old. One usually doesn’t count a half year but I remember an uncle of mine saying that people over seventy change yearly as much as a child under six changes every year. In those perameters, the changes are enormous. Maybe. Aunt Miriam seemed to be pretty much the same between the years seventy-five and ninety-five. She spent most of them in an assisted living facility and later in a nursing home. It wasn’t until the last year or so that she began failing. A pretty good run, I’d say. Since she had no children, it has fallen to my husband Bob to make arrangements for her burial. I know the Rabbi will want to know about her life so that he can make the appropriate remarks at the gravesite. That is what brings me to wonder what will be said.
I am reminded about being in a Rabbi’s study about a decade ago when Aunt Miriam’s sister died and we were called upon to tell him about her life. My husband and I sat in our chairs and looked at one another trying to find something to say. We couldn’t think of anything that set her apart , some characteristic that made her unique, some interest she had that enhanced her life or one in which she could give to others. We could only say she was a “good and nice” person. She took care of her family and performed a homemaker’s tasks. Perhaps that is enough. In Aunt Miriam’s case we could add that she gave music lessons to children and worked to raise funds for the City of Hope. I liked that about her.
And then there was that other funeral I attended many years ago for an aunt of mine who was generally disliked by everyone who knew her. the Rabbi who spoke at her funeral didn’t know the first thing about her. However he eulogized her in glowing terms: “And now we lay to rest this noble soul, etc. etc.” It was then that my cousin looked at me and said, “Are we at the right funeral?”
All this makes me wonder what will be said at my funeral. I’d like to think they will be able to say more than that I was “nice” and I “played the piano.” I certainly hope that the attendants to my departure will not wonder if they are at the right funeral if anything complimentary is said. But then, I wouldn’t know about it anyway.