It was a nice service. The whole affair was tastefully done. The kids and grandkids were gathered as were folks form out of state that made the trip. Only one of the grandsons was unable to make it. He is in Okinawa waiting for deployment to some place else. His LT would allow the visit home but the plane ticket would be over $1,800 and there was no guarantee he could be back in time to make movement. If he missed deployment it would create serious repercussions for him. Other than that it was a good funeral if there is such a thing.
I think I first encountered the idea of memento mori in Mr. Rogers English class. We discussed the idea as it related to the poem in Shropshire Lad, Is My Team Plowing? The concept came up in other early educational venues as well. Being young I mostly ignored it unless it was related to some great battle. Then I glamorized it and promptly forgot all about it. Latter on I saw the movie about Jim Morrison, it started off with a line that included:
"The movie will begin in five moments," the mindless voice announced. All those unseated will await the next show. We filed slowly, languidly into the hall. The auditorium was vast and silent. As we seated and were darkened, the voice continued, "The program for this evening is not new. You've seen this entertainment through and through. You've seen your birth, your life and death. You might recall all the rest. Did you have a good world when you died? Enough to base a movie on?""Memento mori as a literary technique, cool", I thought. Being young I forgot all about the concept and went on living.
Today I stood wearing my pallbearer carnation on a sunny hill top. I was lined up with the other pallbearers standing at parade rest. My position was at the head of the casket that we just positioned over the grave. The preacher was to my right at the head of the casket delivering the graveside invocation. My mind wandered.
The cemetery is almost at the center of our town. It sets up on one of the highest hills. You over look the whole area. I could see the grain load outs, the coalmine and power plant, railroad tracks, the state highway and interstate, the old high school as well as the new one. If the mesa wasn't in the way I might have even been able to see my house. Hundreds if not thousands of people below us were rushing about their lives on a beautiful summer day.
Memento mori. Remember your death. Remember it all the days of your life. Live accordingly. One day this life ends. It is appointed to man once to die and then the judgment. In the days of my youth I was taught this. The thrill of living was too new, the rush of blood in my veins to strong, the smell of my lovers hair and the taste of her lips too sweet. I was taught but did not understand.
Memento mori. One day your friends and family will gather round. There will be pretty flowers but you will not see them. There will be kind words, but you will not hear them. Hopefully they will laugh at some funny anecdote or quirk of yours. It will last about an hour. Then you get to run all the red lights and stop signs on the way to the grave. A little devotional service, flowers placed on the coffin....
Someone said, "Amen". Reflexes kicked in and I said "amen" just a tad behind everyone else. Back to a lunch of fried chicken and pie.