At first I didn’t want anything to do with the funeral. Neither Kate nor I were religious. She was also very private. So a public religious ceremony seemed wrong. Besides, I had more urgent things to attend to—the children’s emotional states, the bills in Kate’s name, how to structure life… Who decided funerals should be so close to death? I’ve been busy, dammit! The funeral felt like a non-urgent duty.
o I decided it should be short and sweet. Well, probably not sweet, but certainly short. I wanted to make the funeral devoid of personality and meaning. I would not give him any emotional energy. Better yet, I would choke it on emotional energy. There would be no music, as few prayers as possible and no sermons. Definitely no speeches. It wasn’t worth attention – so it wasn’t going to get any.
I told these plans to a good friend who enlightened me. “Get some music,” she said. “Go all out,” she said. “Goodbye Kate.” She was right. And despite my stubborn streak, she let me see that she was right. So, despite my reservations, I attended the funeral. Very reluctant.
I struggle with the formula of the Mass, especially funeral masses. The readings seem cliched to me, the gospel shallow. Luckily, the pastor was willing to bend the shape of the Mass. He agreed to delete the responsorial psalm. My mother recommended the readings to me – it’s handy to have a non-Pagan on hand in difficult times.
A reading from Proverbs suited Kate well. “Who finds a brave woman? It is worth more than precious gems. She is a woman of strength and dignity and is not afraid of old age. When she speaks, her words are wise and kindness is the rule of everything she says.”
I asked one of my wife’s favorite bands, I Draw Slow, to play. “Do you do funerals?” I texted. They did – or at least they did. They showed up at short notice and no questions asked, filled the church with incredible sound, and then drove off. Aren’t people amazing? At the time I was struggling to deal with people being kind to me. Her generosity was one of the hardest to deal with.
“I don’t know what I said, but I know what I sang. One of the last things Kate asked me to do was sing the theme song from the 80’s cartoonat her funeral
It all felt a bit random; Asking people to give readings, carry coffins, get the children ready for burial. But this kind of chaotic busyness probably has its perks. It’s a bit blurry when I look back. I remember worrying about my four boys. And I remember how strange and nice it was to see so many familiar faces. Especially the unexpected ones from school, college, work, past lives.
I said a few words from the altar. It was not planned. I don’t know what I said, but I know what I sang. One of the last things Kate asked me to do was sing the theme song from the 80’s cartoon Odysseus 31 at her funeral. In case you don’t know, it’s a Franco-Japanese anime that takes Homer’s odyssey to the 31st century. It has a particularly catchy and receptive theme melody.
We used to sing stupid songs to each other, and every now and then this oddly catchy bit of nostalgia would pop up. Otherwise, I don’t know why she thought of this song. I doubt she was literally thinking of the story of a man trying to get back at his wife. Most likely it was an irreverent joke she never expected me to deliver – gallows humor from her deathbed. But a promise is a promise. I suspect it was the first time this particular tune had graced the interior of a church. That’s how it’s done:
Floating through all the galaxies
In search of earth, flying into the night.
fight against evil and tyranny,
With all his strength and with all his might.”
There was some laughter and some confusion in the hallways. Some kids in the 80’s recognized the tune. Others were confused. The pastor was confused. A few people recognized Kate’s sense of the ridiculous outside of church – they were tickled. “Typical Kate,” one of her brothers said to me, “she stuck two fingers in the church, made you look like a fool and made us all laugh at the same time.” Amen, bro.
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https://www.independent.ie/life/health-wellbeing/health-features/a-widowers-diary-kate-asked-me-to-sing-the-theme-tune-from-80s-cartoon-ulysses-31-at-her-funeral-41980304.html A Widower’s Diary: Kate asked me to sing the theme song from the 80’s cartoon Ulysses 31 at her funeral