Pansies are for Thoughts
Pansies are for Thoughts
I love what I do, and this particular wedding ceremony was filled with a special kind of love because I got to join my little brother in marriage to his partner of 25 years, the mother of his children, and the woman who keeps everything organized in their life. (Yes, these are all the same woman).
Their ceremony took place with family and friends at the park where their children played as kids. Now grown, my niece and nephew acted as witnesses to their parent's marriage.
To make up for making him cry, I invited my brother to write a post on my blog about his wedding ceremony.
The last time my older sister, Lorraine Cowan, made me cry was probably when I was a little kid and she wouldn’t let me watch the third period of a Canadiens game on the one black-and-white TV we had in the house when our parents were out on a Saturday night.
Yes, that was a long time ago.
This latest time they were tears of joy as Lorraine was the Celebrant for my marriage to Sylvia Haley. This was after we had already been together for 25 years, had two kids, four dogs and a mortgage.
Sylvia and I had talked about getting married for a long time, but just never got around to it as life kept somehow getting in the way. But I’m glad we waited so long because if we had done it years earlier, Lorraine wouldn’t have been our Celebrant because she only started her new job a few years ago.
Actually, I shouldn’t call it a job. After years working in the insurance industry — that was a job — Lorraine has found a real passion and joy in her role as a Life Cycle Celebrant. I think she enjoyed our wedding as much as we did — and I’m sure other people she has married would say the same thing. She absolutely loves her new work.
Lorraine has an incredible talent for telling a love story - and isn’t that what a wedding ceremony should be about?
She has the gift of a writer, and as the former sports editor and now a sports columnist at the Montreal Gazette, I think I’m a pretty good judge of impressive writing and story-telling.
You could say I’m biased — and maybe I am just a little bit — because she’s my sister. But remember, she wouldn’t let me watch the end of Hockey Night in Canada when I was a little kid because there was something else on TV she wanted to see. I still remember that.
Lorraine has the ability to tell the story about how a couple like Sylvia and I met, fell in love, went through ups and downs and then decided to get married. Every couple’s story is different and fascinating.
I wasn’t the only one who cried at our wedding — there were tears in the eyes of many of the friends and family members in attendance.
Tears of joy.
They are a lot better than tears over a hockey game.
“I don’t want a funeral, nobody likes them and they cost too much money. "
"Don’t bury me, just cremate me and be over with it."
“I’ve prearranged and prepaid everything. My loved ones won’t need to do anything and I have peace of mind knowing what will happen after I die”
You may have spoken or heard these words, but the truth is, if you die in Quebec your loved ones will be making a trip to a funeral home because only they can pick up your body and register your death with the government.
And while your loved one is at the funeral home making arrangements for the shell you left behind, they will be offered various services and merchandise that can result in a very expensive and unnecessary bill. They may say no to a viewing, yes to an urn, yes to having an expensive room available so friends and family can visit and gather, yes to stickers with your picture, and a strong NO to a funeral ceremony because you said you didn't want one, and at this point, no room is left in the budget.
But you know what? A ceremony after you die is not for you. Although it is definitely about you, it’s for your relatives, friends, co-workers, people you know in the community and others who grieve your death. Despite the sorrow we feel when death comes to someone we love, we leave a good ceremony feeling happy we went. These gatherings can be uplifting for your loved ones as they see important people in your life they probably haven’t seen for years. Stories and rituals are shared and help those still alive with the very important and necessary process of Grief.
Oh, but you prearranged and prepaid your funeral expenses. Did the funeral home tell you these arrangements are not legally binding upon your loved ones? Your next of kin can choose to do what they want after you die, despite your prearrangement. So much for peace of mind.
There was a time gatherings occurred weekly or more, usually at church, and if you are a believer and attend a church regularly, you will probably want your ceremony held there. However many of us stopped going to church for various reasons, often because the religious rituals became rote and meaningless.
Want to know something else? A funeral gathering doesn’t have to cost a fortune nor does it have to be held at a funeral home. Also, you don't have to buy an urn from the funeral home, many places sell them for a fraction of the cost.
While there are the necessary and unavoidable fees for moving your body, cremation, and filing your death certificate, an end of life ceremony in the presence of the ashes or after your body has been buried, can be inexpensive and held anywhere, such as a legion hall, a reception hall, your home or backyard, the cottage, or anywhere else significant to you and your loved ones.
An End of Life Ceremony should not be morbid. Life Cycle Celebrants® are not the same as lay celebrants and officiants. We are Professional Celebrants and Ceremony Officiants, who have studied, trained and are certified in the art of Ceremony and Ritual. We create and deliver a ceremony capturing the essence of the person who died. We won't fumble or mispronounce your name. We won't mistake your place of birth or other facts (we've all been to one of those funerals). We craft personal, respectful and meaningful rituals of the life lived.
Every word we write is approved by your loved ones. We can also work with you to create your end of life ceremony while you are still actively moving around in your shell.
Don’t deny yourself or your loved ones of an end of life ceremony. Elephants, chimpanzees, magpies and many other animals stop to gather and ritualize the death of one of their tribe. If they realize this importance, shouldn’t you?
“Clean lines of wash by Monday noon”. This was my reply to a yearly ritual my mum and I shared on countless Mother’s Days. It was my response when she announced in her thick, Scottish accent: “That wee poem’s in the paper again”.
For as many years as I remember, a beautiful poem appeared in the newspaper each Mother’s Day, lovingly placed by a daughter in memory of her mother. My mum and I would read it together and wonder about the story behind the poem and the significance it played in the life of this mother and daughter.
The first anniversary of my mum’s physical death is today, the day after Mother’s Day, however we lost each other long before May 15, 2016.
Dementia had made a long, slow, and ugly decent into her mind, and took the mother I knew long before death took her body. This disease changed her in so many ways and for so long, I often have trouble remembering the mum I know and love.
Reading this poem gives me comfort and brings back many happy memories of the mother who raised me and the woman she was before illness claimed her mind and stole her from herself and the people she loved.
I don’t have clean lines of wash, but I do have teapots, and old books, and I adore spoiling small children. My mum lives on in these rituals for as long as she has me for a daughter.
This is the poem:
“Something of you I own and wear,
Curve of mouth, colour of hair.
And other things that Time proves true
Are part of me, and were part of you.
Clean lines of wash by Monday noon,
A whistle for worry, a quarter moon.
Spoiling children and such small things
As teapots, bracelets, and silver rings.
Old books and lilacs faint cool rosewater –
In these you live on as long as a daughter
Has tongue to tell and heart to hold
This curious coin of mother gold.
Something of you I wear and own,
Frail as a dream, certain as stone.” - Gladys McKee