We got back from out east to turn around and head back for a funeral of my lover’s Oma.
A funeral that we were not all planning to attend, as in the kids and I would stay home.
Until we got an email saying that if we didn’t go, the family would sadly “understand” but that it was their prayer that we would all go.
So, we went back for 1 day. We arrived Wednesday night, leaving straight after Lil’T’s last day of preschool. Several people were disappointed that we did not go the viewing and let us know with deep sighs. I did not appreciate being guilted into taking my babies to see a dead body of a person they didn’t really know when it was almost their bedtime and they hadn’t eaten supper. This time I got annoyed instead of feeling guilty and giving in!
The funeral was mostly good. Some children and grandchildren of Oma shared touching and funny stories. She was an adventurous and mischievious woman. She loved to tease and try new things. She had a full life in Holland and didn’t marry until her 30s just before she moved to Canada.
She seemed to come back to that zestful personality after her husband died a few years ago. He had ALS and she was exhausted from doing the majority of his care. I met her just before he passed on and have enjoyable memories of a lady who joked about being able to go topless after her masectomies. She was in her late 80s and joked? about asking out the 50 some year old man in her apartment building so she could have a date with a current driver’s license.
I really enjoyed the stories the family shared about her, especially since I didn’t know her that well.
Then the pastor got up. After speaking for a few minutes, it was obvious even to me that he didn’t really know her. We learned a lot more about the pastor than we did about Oma.
Of course there was the obligatory guilt-tripping and shaming of the non-church goers as well as bolstering the stereotype that all non-Christians (which would include liberal Christians and Catholics) have no hope.
We heard snide comments about women who work outside the home. I counted three separate slams and then stopped listening. I think he forgot that the woman he was speaking about had many different jobs in her life. And that she actually did more than knitting and cooking.
He talked about his hatred for television. In particular, some show about teenagers. He went into great detail about that show and how watching it would lead to teen pregnancy. It rather disturbed me how he talked about it and I was glad that all the kids were in the nursery. I’m pretty sure his sermon would have a less kid friendly rating than that show.
The worst part was at the graveside. I tuned out most of the message until he got to “Oma’s last words”. Which apparently was a dramatic soliloquy beseeching everyone to get really involved in a good church. He targeted half of the siblings and the majority of the grandchildren who don’t go to church and laid it on thick and cheesy. I wondered if he was he unaware that he was speaking to a grieving family or if he deliberately used the pain and captive audience to give more pain.
Later that night, I and my father-in-law were in the kitchen. I wanted him to tell stories about his mother, but he had other plans. He talked about how much he appreciated the pastor’s version of “Oma’s last words” and mentioned that his mother never did talk to anyone about church that way and how nice it was that she finally got to.
I kept trying to steer the conversation to his memories but ended up listening to his views on evolution, how government should pay for private Christian schools, and how we should be careful asking questions because it may make things less peaceful. He did praise his mother for her acceptance of things without questioning and stated that with faith one does not have to ask questions because they have something better than knowledge.
My father-in-law is very much like his mother. They both love adventures, talking and teasing. They love to laugh. But I assumed this wasn’t the time for that so I let him talk.
A few years ago I would have agreed with many of the same issues. A few years ago I might have thought that discussing not promoting Christian beliefs with public money was persecution instead of just ‘unfair’. I would have believed that a conversation about abstract faith was more profound and superior than Oma’s conversations about how the people in our lives were doing.
I may not have been able to enjoy Dan’s awesome cousins because their lifestyles were forbidden by my church. I may not have gotten to meet the common-law aunt who first apologized for not being married before anything else. It may have mattered to me.
I may have paid more attention to the guilt-tripping sermon than the stories of this exuberant Oma. That would be sad.
I’m not entirely sure I’m glad that we went, but it was good.