Saturday, November 17, 2012

Two Landmark funerals within four weeks! The first for a new life cut short, the second for someone who didn't quite reach 91.

Today's service involved no body in a coffin, no representative of god, no celebrant. And yet there was the presence of this beloved woman in all the testimonials by family and friends. There was the presence of a great spirit. There was celebration. She was a woman adventurous in both body and mind, a matriarch in the grandest and most generous tradition. Her offspring, grandchildren and great grandchildren knew her as one who breathed aliveness, self-expression and the freedom to create life into every one of them. Some anecdotes made us dab our eyes; some made us laugh in recognition, not only of her unique personality but of our own foibles and humanity.

We gathered in a coastal community centre; she had died at home with windows wide open for the sound of the sea and the birds she loved. Before she lost consciousness, she gazed to infinity across a mauve and azure ocean. She told people: "I'm dying now. It's perfect. This is exactly the way it should be. It's my time." She inspired us all as the manner of her dying was recounted, as she had in her life.

I loved her because she made me feel special, she made everyone she met feel special. She was interested, attentive when you were with her. She included you, fed you power and grace in her conversations with you. She loved classical music. We spent a few minutes with Beethoven's Concerto # 3. It rang like bells, pulled and pushed like waves, it rolled through the fibres of my being like surf, and I was moved like a grain of sand with the beauty and the emotion in the slow notes. A photo of her with playing cards laid out on a table in front of her presided. We spoke to her, and thanked her for the extraordinary life she had completed, the gift she was, and the difference she had made to every single one of us.

Vale Edith Barton.

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