The last walk

We buried my father-in-law's ashes today.

It was a short ceremony - too short, in my eyes, not much more than a Bible verse in the nave of the church, a prayer and the Lord's Prayer at the grave.

It was rather a shock to enter the nave - the steel urn was on a table with no flowers, very different from the funeral we had a month ago. The flowers we had ordered were not delivered. My mother-in-law was sad, my sister-in-law furious, as she had called a few days ago to remind them of the date.

After the Bible verse the - what do you call him, urn carrier? Pall bearer seems not fitting - with his funny hat stood in front of the urn in a posture of prayer. I wondered if he does, indeed pray, or if he just waits to give the impression of prayer. He then picked up the urn, and we all sort of fell in behind him for that last walk together, in no particular order other than my mother-in-law behind the urn with the pastor.

At the grave they didn't even wait until everyone was there, apparently there was another funeral or something coming up soon. The urn carrier tugged at two little knobs on either side of the urn that released strings so that he could lower the urn into the grave.

The pastor gave his prayer and after the Lord's Prayer he spoke the "ashes-to-ashes" formula. In Germany then everyone lines up and throws three scoops of earth into the grave, as well as flowers. I cut some flowers from the garden this morning and took an apple branch from his beloved apple trees. They admonished us not to put anything non-organic into the the grave, but WiseMan palmed his union badge and a coin from his Euro collection and dropped it in quietly during his turn. I found that very fitting.

We were all standing there then, trying to settle ourselves, when we realized that the rest of the company had disappeared - the funeral director, the urn carrier, the pastor were all gone. We had questions, and no one was available.

So there was nothing else to do but drive home and have some great plumcake and almond cake baked by an aunt. After cake a bottle of homebrew quince liquor was brought out - I had to drive back to Berlin, so none for me.

When I went to collect my son I figured he would be climbing trees with his cousin (both in their suits). But no, both boys (the cousin will turn teenager next week) were sitting in the sun in chairs, talking! Looks like they are growing up.

The flower people hemmed and hawed (they just plain forgot to deliver the flowers) and drove the flowers out after the ceremony, lot of good that does us now. I stopped on the way back to Berlin to at least get a picture of it.

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