Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Death And Taxes

I suppose the only thing that could make April 15 even more stressful is attending the funeral of the woman I helped take care of for ten years. It's only been four days since my mother-in-law's passing but it seems more like four months. I'm beginning to realize Jews have the right idea: get them in the ground quickly, mourn for seven days and get on with your life. Catholics tend to prefer funeral foreplay followed by a two-day event, with both evening and daytime services. To paraphrase Robert Kline, Catholic funerals are like vaudeville.

I spent the better part of Saturday scanning and emailing photos to our niece so she could put together a memorial board for the funeral home. Deciding on which pictures to use is not an easy task. I wanted to show as many different phases of Helen's life as possible, I wanted to include as many different people in the photos as possible and I wanted to make the pics as visually interesting as possible. Plus, I wanted to send a snapshot or two that has sentimental value to us.

It wasn't easy looking at photographs especially since so many of the subjects have either passed on or are quite alive but no longer in our circle. We'd pick up one and say, "Dead." We'd pick up another and say, "Dead." Then we'd pick up yet another and say, "Dead to me." My favorites are the ones with my late father-in-law. But, I do feel bad that we couldn't find a picture of her with the boyfriend she had for many years after her husband's death.

Some people think displaying photographs of the deceased during the viewing is very third-worldy. I think it's a nice distraction for the mourners and it helps seeing your loved one in happier times looking more normal than the corpse in the casket. You can say all you want that the departed "looks good" but, let's face it, they never do.

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