My sister makes fun of me because I rarely miss a funeral, and she's right. It's not that I love funerals but because I truly believe in the whole "paying last respects" idea. What better way to let let someone know how much they mean to you is there than taking time out of your own life and day to console someone when they feel at their lowest and have lost someone dear? It lifts them up which in turn lifts you up. It may sound contrite but misery really does enjoy company.
I say it quite often and becomes more true with each passing year. I go to a lot more funerals than parties these days.
Years ago, funerals were sad occasions which I didn't care for too much. These days tend to be mini reunions of old friends and an hour or two to laugh and reminisce about what great times we all shared together and remember why we're still close after over half a century has passed.
Yesterday I attended yet another one. I had to work at three but the funeral was at one and on the way to the airport so just wore my uniform for work and crashed another one. A friend who I've known since kindergarten lost her mother. A grand lady, close friend of my own mother had declined in health the past couple of years after seventy odd years of being a vibrant force of a woman. Her own husband passed just a few short months ago after his own rapid decline. What a shame, but now are together and whole again.
My daugher had to work as well (she works with me) so she crashed along with me. Pretty much every person there knew who she was, meeting her before or just feeling like they have because of how I put my family out there for anyone who will and does read about us, whether via my blog or simply social networking.
I'll have to admit it's also the first funeral I've been to that had a picture made with the officiating pastor (also a childhood friend) before the service.
The guy on the left I went to high school and also grew up with while attending East Point Christian Church. Ditto for the pastor behind me, except he attended another local high school.
It was a melting pot of my past. Massey met peeps I've known all my life and I tried to make sense of how it all corresponded. "This one was from high school and lived next door to this one and that other one went to the church up the street from my childhood home and lived next door to those other people over there who I knew from these people who were related to that other family over there."
In essence I said to her...your momma grew up in the best environment with the greatest people a person could ever hope to grow up with and helped me be the person I am lucky enough to be today.
I've known all the above people for as long as I can remember. Some from elementary school and some from the neighborhood we grew up in.
My childhood friend's mother had the chapel packed for her funeral and was a great show of love, respect and support. My daughter and I sat at the very back because we had to leave for work before the very end but was a touching tribute and was nice to visit with everyone before the service.
Us three on the left were cheerleaders together in high school and the one on the far right was one of our running buddies as well. Not too shabby looking for old broads well into their fifties and screaming quickly towards sixty. The tall blonde to the left of me is my friend who lost her mother. I'm not really sure when I first met her but remember us going to kindergarten together so must have been about fifty three years ago.
We were in the same Bluebird troop together in the early to mid sixties. Her father who passed away four short months ago is the handsome man on the left. He was a State Representative and let our troop tour the state capitol. I'm the mouse on the upper right corner and my friend is the blonde to the right of the Governor, Lester Maddox. There are at least four of the above people pictured who also attended the funeral of her mother. East Point people (the city I grew up in) are a tight bunch who never forget a friend.
Bounce ahead a few short years...
I spent a lot of time at her house growing up. We were incorrigible kids, constantly up to no good and came up with crazy schemes and played more pranks than you could count on an adding machine. (no calculators back then)
Her parents were always a handsome couple and still in love right up to the end.
She battled and beat breast cancer. He suffered later on from dementia and ailing health but just like East Point peeps do had each other's back and held onto each other.
What a testament of true love!
So instead of grieving we all came together and celebrated having known this wonderful couple with stories of our youth and memories which will last until we all have dementia, a time closer than further away considering we're all babes of the late fifties and early sixties.
Come what may and/or when, I'm still so very fortunate to have grown up around and with all these many people who are still so very dear to my heart and the biggest part of who I really am.
I'm a girl who was born and bred on the outskirts of Atlanta in a small community with a huge heart and wonderful people who still care about each other over half a century down the road of life. What a wonderful way to grow up and even better way to grow old.
We spent every day of the summer at the huge olympic sized swimming pool in East Point, rocking out to the juke box loudly booming out "Ride Captain Ride" and "Brandy" while jumping off the high dive, which had to be at least thirty feet high. It's where I took my first swimming lessons at the age of four or five and spent every summer there, even when I was fourteen and got a job working in the basket room.
I can say with pretty firm conviction was the luckiest kid on the planet to grow up where I did.
It's the town and time I'm from and the reason I'm who I am today.