Monday, December 15, 2008

Remember Me

A month ago my father-in-law was at a party, drinking and chatting with people he'd met during his 50 years as a theatrical lighting designer. Today he was cremated. It was a harrowing occasion, given the shock of his sudden death, but it was also the best funeral I've ever attended, with over 150 people.

My father-in-law wasn't planning to die. On the contrary, he was intending to do a parachute jump in the spring and also hoped to travel to Australia with his wife. He didn't think about death. However, he was quite adamant that if anything did happen to him, he wanted a non-religious funeral. Today's service was moderated by someone from the British Humanist Association and it was more soulful than any religious service I've attended.

My father-in-law also expressed one other wish about his funeral: he wanted Dido's Lament played, from Purcell's opera Dido and Aeneas:
When I am laid, am laid in earth, May my wrongs create
No trouble, no trouble in thy breast;
Remember me, remember me, but ah! forget my fate.
Remember me, but ah! forget my fate
Written 320 years ago, this is one of the most profound and moving pieces of music ever written and as a burial anthem, it beats Robbie Williams' No Regrets any day:


Tim F said...

Sorry for your loss, Steerforth. But I know what you mean about a good funeral. My father-in-law was a Thai boxing master, and his coffin was carried to the crem by some of his students, big tough guys in tears. It was a warrior's send-off, the one he would have wanted.

bye bye bellulah said...

Sorry for your troubles, Steerforth. Fitting that a good life should be reflected in a good funeral.

JRSM said...

Sorry for your loss, for what it's worth. He sounds like an amazing man.

The Poet Laura-eate said...

I am sure it was still a difficult day for all concerned Steerforth, but I'm so glad it went as well as was possible and managed to reflect in him a genuine way.

Did he leave any memoirs which might be knocked into shape and published at all? Sounds like he led a fascinating life.

Steerforth said...

Sadly, although he had many gifts, my father-in-law could barely write a letter, let alone a memoir.

I think his obituary is being published in a couple of broadsheets, but the most memorable aspects of his life are unprintable!

I wish I could tell you the anecdote about his indecent proposal to a very prim and proper mother and her teenage daughter, but I'm under strict instructions to stick to the less controversial material.