Yesterday's events determined yesterday's apparel. It was another of those days where a dark suit was taken from the wardrobe to the accompaniment of white shirt and sombre tie. Black shoes completed the Stygian uniform. Yet another funeral required my attendance. Thankfully this was not a trajic death that was being honoured, but no funeral can be anything but sad. I cannot understand why clergymen exhort us with phrases about funerals being days to celebrate the life of a deceased. They are days of sadness, sorrow, memories and sometimes regret.
The funeral service was held in a small village church. Friends, neighbours and relatives made up the congregation. The deceased's late husband had been a farmer and many of those in attendance had complexions that vouched that they too were horny handed sons of the soil. They twisted their necks from side to side, uncomfortable with the restriction of collar and tie.
I cannot remember a time when I did not know the deceased. She was married to a first cousin of my mother and their farm provided what seemed like a boundless playground for my childhood energy. Their large family, four boys and two girls meant there was always someone to play football with, to chase and be chased by. She didn't benefit from quite the longevity of her husband, but after eighty six years I don't suppose she thought she had had a short life, but then again human nature always demands more.
The liturgy of the funeral service may be comforting, but I suspect that a rational dissection of those familiar words and phrases might have caused many of those sitting in that small rural church to intone, "Sapiens nihil affirmat quod non probat," - a wise man asserts nothing he cannot prove.