Wednesday, 12 November 2008

After The Funeral

After my late uncle's funeral service and interment, my husband and I drove to my aunt's house. It was a journey of just a few minutes, by car, so we had hardly any chance to recover from the effects of the chill wind, which had been blowing forcefully across the churchyard. In the near distance, we glimpsed the sea sparkling in the autumn sunshine, as we turned into the cul de sac, where my aunt now lived.

There were 2 cars already parked on the drive, presumably belonging to my aunt's 2 daughters, so we parked behind them, on the road. My aunt opened the front door, leading the way into the living room, as she expressed her gratitude to us for taking the time and trouble to attend her late husband's funeral.

My aunt and uncle had moved to this small seaside town a few months ago, after a lot of persuasion from their youngest daughter, who had wanted them to live closer to her. My uncle had been 77 years old, at the the time of the move and suffered a heart attack 2 weeks before they were due to leave. Shortly after they moved, he had discovered that he was suffering from cancer and they had since bitterly regretted leaving the home, which had been theirs, ever since they had first been married.

We walked into the living room, but almost as soon as we sat on the sofa, we heard the sounds of some sort of disturbance coming from the direction of the hall. There was some scuffling, a few shrieks and the sound of a door slamming. I realised that there was some sort of altercation taking place between my late uncle's 2 daughters and the eldest daughter's 2 teenage children, a girl aged 19 and a boy aged 16. My aunt hurried out in to the hall to see what was happening.

We began to feel rather awkward, uncomfortable and embarrassed. We wondered whether we should leave, but I didn't want to abandon my aunt. We decided to wait a while, but not to interfere, unless it was absolutely necessary.

I sighed, as I considered the gigantic effort we had made to get to the funeral. My husband had arranged a day's holiday for the day of the funeral, rescheduled his doctor's appointment and asked his young female assistant to set up and take charge of his stand, at an exhibition, which was taking place in London. Last Thursday, the day before the funeral, after our evening meal, we had packed a few things and set off for a Travel Lodge in Devon. After a journey of 3 1/2 hours on a dark, windy, rainy night, we finally arrived at midnight, having lost our way on only one occasion.

The following morning, we had risen early, munched through our 'breakfast in a bag' and driven for another 1 1/2 hours to arrive at the church at 10.35 am. We were the only members of the family, who had been willing and able to cope with the length of the journey, so we had sat alone for 25 minutes, until my aunt arrived with her 2 daughters and 2 grandchildren at 11 am. We had struggled valiantly with 2 hymns, neither of which were familiar and supported the family at the graveside, as the coffin was lowered into the grave. After a short rest at my aunt's house, we had a journey of at least 5 hours to look forward to, as were driving to my parents house, in the Midlands, to spend the night. My husband had another exhibition to attend, in Birmingham, on the Saturday morning.

The shouting and swearing from the hall cut into my thoughts as it became louder and more intense. We wondered, vaguely, whether there would be any chance of getting a cup of tea, before we had to leave.............

To be continued

24 comments:

softinthehead said...

oooh dear! as if a funeral isn't bad enough!

Mean Mom said...

That's more or less what I thought!

The Boisterous Butterfly said...

...and then what happened? I'm so curious now. I hope it wasn't too embarrassing.

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

If you want to see behaviour at its worst then just watch familes at funerals. Grief and greed brings out the worst in people - you see them at their most vulnerable or their most opportunistic and under stress people revert to type. Marvellous - hope you stopped at a service station for some tea after you legged it out of there!

Mud in the City said...

You must be due some good karma for that!

Mean Mom said...

the boisterous butterfly - Well, the language was very colourful. I couldn't repeat it on my blog. I managed to resist the temptation of joining in! There was a bit of a tussle, but everything calmed down eventually and the aftermath was interesting.


mob - Often so true, unfortunately. This family had been under stress for many months. The youngest sister 'bottles up her emotions' and hadn't cried at all since the death of her father. Both sister 'let rip' and all of the petty jealousies and resentment came pouring out. Afterwards, we all 'had a bit of a laugh' - except for one member of the family, but I don't want to spoil the end!

Mean Mom said...

mud in the city - I hope so! Perhaps it's a good thing that I don't live too close to them. In spite of the funeral, I'd been looking forward to a bit of a 'get together'! My uncle hadn't been the most pleasant of people. I wanted to go to the funeral to support my aunt, because I have always been very fond of her.

Suburbia said...

You can't just leave the story like that!!

So sorry you had an awkward time. How dreadful that your aunt and uncle had only just moved there. Your poor aunt is so far away from all her friends now.

You are both saints for doing such a long journey in such a short space of time. At least you have done the right thing even if others have not.

Mean Mom said...

Thanks suburbia. It was fairly awful. We didn't even get to see much of the scenery, because we did most of our travelling, there and back, in the dark!

My poor aunt has been left in a dreadful situation.

Sorry I couldn't fit it all into one post. Too much to relate and explain!

aims said...

Funerals really do bring out the worst in people. And afterwards the claws come out and the purse yawns wide open and the shovels suddenly appear!

I'm sorry for your aunt and for the loss of your uncle. Bless you for making that huge effort and your husband too! True supporters! Your aunt and uncle must have been very special to you.

Mean Mom said...

aims - I am feeling very virtuous! You are right. My aunt is very special to me. My uncle wasn't a particularly pleasant man, unfortunately, as you will see from the rest of the story.

auntiegwen said...

Emotions do tend to run high at these times.

My aunt fell out with my mother because of a will bequest that my mother neither expected or wanted !

Mean Mom said...

auntiegwen - Oh, dear. People can be so unreasonable, sometimes, particularly over things that you can't help.

Rose said...

My sympathy on the loss of your uncle. I agree with Suburbia; you were very thoughtful to have made such an effort to attend the funeral. Now I am so curious how the rest of the story turns out...

Mean Mom said...

rose - Thanks. I was incredibly glad that I went to the funeral, believe it or not. My aunt was really glad that we made the effort, but, probably too glad, which, I think, all helped to contribute to her youngest daughter feeling that her 'nose had been pushed out'!

blogthatmama said...

Sounds awful and intriguing, I'm trying to imagine the second half of the story...hope you got that cup of tea

Mean Mom said...

blogthatmama - You're right. It was both of those things! Sorry I couldn't publish it all at once. It was difficult to put together. The second part is still too long, I think!

auntiegwen said...

I just wanted to say thank you so much for your very kind and insightful comments earlier. I really do appreciate you taking the trouble to do that, I'm working on it !!!

Mean Mom said...

auntiegwen - Did I manage to say something sensible? What a relief! I thought long and hard, before I commented, but I hoped that I hadn't been too cheeky. I wish you all of the luck in the world with your future.

Milla said...

wow, I was going to comment all intelligently and was then hit with a massive blast from da past in the form of the Beatles and have been pole-axed!

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

I'm feeling very sorry for your aunt right now.

Mean Mom said...

milla - Well, do come back, when you've recovered!!


wakeup - Wait until you read the next bit. You don't know the half of it, yet!

scrappysue said...

funerals really do bring out the worst in people sometimes!

Mean Mom said...

scrappysue - I'm afraid that you are right. This resentment had obviously been building up for a long time, but also the family had been under a terrible strain for many months. Sooner or later it was all bound to burst out. Unfortunately, it happened whilst we were present!