We buried my last great-uncle last week. It was a nice funeral, as funerals go. I'm not a fan of the whole genre. I know there are folks who get up and read the obits every day, but until I'm a bit older and go through the "funeral phase," I think I'll skip that (you know, there's the "everybody's getting married" phase, then the "baby shower phase," then the "all my friends are having vasectomies" phase. Someday, I hear, you go to lots of funerals). The whole process brought out several thoughts, some sad, some poignant, some just random.
1. Nobody's family is really normal. Mine is no exception. But it's a really good family.
2. There will be more of these, I'm afraid. Of my Grandmother's twelve siblings, only three are left, and none of them were well enough to attend, including my uncle's widow.
3. World War II veterans are rapidly becoming ancient history. My uncle dropped out of high school to join the army after Pearl Harbor, making him one of the youngest veterans of that war. He was 82. In my generation, everybody knew a WWII veteran; my kids will likely never remember meeting one.
4. "Taps" is the coolest song ever. If you don't get chills when a military color guard plays Taps and folds the flag, there's something wrong.
5. If you live long enough, no matter how great a guy you were or how popular you were, it's a small funeral, because your friends are dead, too.
6. Funerals for committed Christians are joyous. My uncle was notoriously stubborn about faith for the vast majority of his life. A couple of years ago, right around age 80, he came in from mowing the grass and told my aunt, "let's call the preacher. I think it's time for me to get baptized." That story made the whole day a joy.
7. Everybody should have a crusty old uncle who calls them a silly nickname. When you're 13 or so, you think it's really dumb, but now it's very cool.