February 11th, 2008

little review

Poem for Monday

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I spent all day Sunday at a really lovely and surprisingly uplifting funeral and memorial service for my Uncle Paul. I had expected the funeral in particular to be depressing -- the only graveside ceremonies I have ever attended were my grandparents' brief religious services -- but it was at a big sunny cemetery with a large flock of Canada geese arranged like a procession by the road, where some of Aunt Shirley's siblings are buried as well as a couple of names of local people I recognized. My cousins chose the readings -- a couple of Psalms, Ecclesiastes 3, a sonnet -- and my parents led the mourner's kaddish because my cousins don't read Hebrew. We all did the traditional three shovels of dirt. It was a nice blend of secular and Jewish, which I imagine is what my uncle would have wanted. They took the entire family to and from the funeral in limousines, so I rode with Paul and Daniel, my mother, my Uncle Mickey's 12-year-old and Shirley's niece Jane, whose husband and son were in a different car.

We all had lunch at the senior center where my aunt lives -- Uncle Mickey and his family, Uncle Paul's daughters and their families, Shirley's brother and his wife, Jane and her family, plus another local cousin -- Shirley's sister's grandson Kit,who is my age. Then we went home for a while to let Daniel rest. There was a 4 p.m. memorial service that over 100 people attended -- Nicole flew in with her oldest daughter, more local cousins arrived, and a great many local friends came including my mother's good friends and my aunt's longtime neighbors from before she and my uncle retired, plus people from the senior center. It was really more of a celebration than a memorial, with my cousins, parents, uncle and various other relatives remembering Uncle Paul -- there were letters from people he served with in Europe and people who lived too far away to travel. There was a reception afterward where I talked to my cousins who were in from various colleges and some of my parents' friends. No one would have enjoyed it more than Uncle Paul himself. I had the same feeling I had at my Grandma Sylvia's funeral, namely that they should have done the funeral two years earlier while she was there to appreciate it.

The adults in this photo are my great-grandparents. The older boy is my father's father. The baby is my Uncle Paul.

I have the Grammys on but am pretty fried -- I see the Foo Fighters just won best rock album and Amy Winehouse (inexplicably, to me) won best new artist and song of the year. And Obama beat Clinton...well, Barack beat Bill in the spoken word album category (at least he also beat Jimmy Carter). All my younger cousins are voting for him, while most of the older ones are voting for Hillary. Interesting that the national schism among the Democrats is demographically reflected in my own family. I can't think about the primary till tomorrow.