Saturday, February 08, 2014

Two Funerals and a Catholic Upbringing

IMG 2647

What a title for a post, eh? Well I couldn’t very well call it Two Funerals and a Wedding, now could I? I am not trying to be flip here. Not at all. The fact is, I feel very sad. After never having attended a funeral in my entire life I have now gone to two in two days. Both funerals were held in two different Catholic churches in Wayne. Our friends Andy and Linda have both lost their mothers in the space of one week. It’s almost too much for one family to bear and I cannot imagine their sorrow and grief. Well, I can actually, just a little bit and that’s the problem. 

When you lose a parent it’s like being smacked in the back of the head with your own mortality. Those of you who have not experienced it yet can’t fully comprehend what I am talking about. There is just the slightest scabbing over from the wound of the loss of my mom. If I start picking at it, the wound opens back up.

I did not know either one of the matriarchs of their families, yet I still found tears welling up in my eyes and slipping down my cheeks when I saw their grief, which was so palpable. I have to admit, I cry watching Hallmark movies and commercials, and now at funerals of people I don’t know too. Seeing the families grieve, listening to the eulogies of these two well-loved women brought my mom’s death back to me with a punch in the gut. I have to admit, it hurt. All those feelings and memories came rushing back. My mom did not want a formal funeral as she had eschewed the whole Catholic church thing which was so much a part of my childhood, but not my adulthood. But after attending back to back funerals I can certainly see the advantage to having one. It gives closure and a chance to reflect on a life you were part of for so long. A celebration and an ending.

Both funerals were very different, yet the same. I actually enjoyed both priests when they spoke to the immediate family. They had obviously taken the time to research each woman before they spoke. When they were speaking from the heart (and not for God) I got it.

I’m having a rather emotional day so forgive me if I am not making sense. 

I was raised Catholic and we went to church every Sunday as a child. Being in a Catholic church again and attending a mass of sorts after not having set foot in one (not counting visiting cathedrals in Europe) for 35 years was also a bit strange and off-putting. So many feelings washed over me.

My mom’s death. 

Being sent back to my childhood again with two distinct memories:

The heavy scent of incense filling the church with its musky odor on Christmas midnight masses. 

The cruel nun who poked me so hard in the back I thought I’d be bruised when I did not kneel up straight. Looking down at those kneelers the past two days, kneeling was the last thing I wanted to do!

I went through the whole Holy Communion and Confirmation thing. Here I am the day of my Communion.

Scan 3

Photo back reads (in my mom’s handwriting) :

Lynne Ann, First Holy Communion (as if I was going to have a second?),

May 18th, 1963

And looking even more pious on my Confirmation!


Photo back reads: May 28, 1966, Confirmation

Wow, same hair-do! Maybe my bangs are a little longer. Nice curls, Lynne. Really, now looking back I’m not sure what the whole to-do was about. Sad, really.  I was really not as pious as I look in these photos. My mom saved my report card from catechism class and it resides in my baby book (thankfully my sister and I were both spared parochial school due to my father’s own school experience) and I thought my conduct grade would be worse than a “B” since I distinctly remember the nun smacking my hand with a ruler (yes, they still did that) and once standing in the corner because I was chewing gum and the nun made me put the gum on my nose too. Maybe this was why when I left my parent’s house and got married I turned away from the church and never went back.

Scan 1

My sister has gone back “into the fold” later in life and I am glad that the rituals give her comfort. After being back in the church for two days in a row I can honestly say I have no desire to go back.

I miss my mom so much. Andy and Linda, if you read this my heart goes out to you both.


Photo: Autumn’s last gasp with burning bushes in the background, Long Pond Ironworks.


I haven’t experienced the loss of a parent yet, but I can certainly imagine how attending those funerals reopened that wound for you, and brought back all those childhood memories. We never quite leave behind the beliefs we adopt as children—even if we no longer “believe,” the experiences all continue to live in our conscious and subconscious memories.

You were so lucky to have such a great relationship with your mom which, of course, makes it even harder to lose her.  So sorry those funerals opened up that hole in your heart again.

You have such a sly smile on your face in your confirmation photo - you don’t look pious at all!!  grin

C, sometimes I wish I didn’t have that relationship with my mom. It would sure be easier. You know that saying “tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all?” I’m not so sure about that. It hurts.

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