thefirstcaro: (flowers 01)
[personal profile] thefirstcaro
 I cannot believe it is only Tuesday. It cannot be only three days since Momo died. There has been so much going on since then that yesterday, when I went into Boots to print out some photos and the automated receipt said Monday 12 April, I actually turned to my cousin and said "Ready at 12.30 on Monday?? But I chose the one hour service!" and she said "Today IS Monday". My mind was seriously blown by that little bit of information, that's how bad I was. 

After Momo died on Saturday evening, the doctor had to come to pronounce her dead and sign the death certificate before the undertaker could do anything. The undertaker is actually just five minutes from our house so it was nice and local. He came and they took Momo away and Colette and two of my aunts and my uncle went to chose the coffin. She asked me if I wanted to go but I said no, I wanted to stay home and keep the dogs calm. Bless them, they were on serious high doh the last few days with people coming and going. They weren't sure what the hell was going on to have the level of activity increased so much in the house. 
Colette wanted to bring Momo home that night and to wake her here and we did so, but I said we had to keep it immediate family. I wasn't having an open house that night. So it was just a few of us and we had a few drinks and chatted and shared memories, and it was nice. On Sunday, the undertaker took Momo around midday and then the family went down in the afternoon for two hours. It was whatever family member wanted to. My mother said she wasn't putting pressure on anyone, especially the younger kids, because sometimes you just can't face that. 
I was making most of the decisions about arrangements. I wanted this funeral done right. Momo had very strict ideas about propriety in such situations and really I wanted to give her a good send-off. I have tried to do my best for her over the past few years and I wanted to do my best for her in this too, because this was the last thing I was ever going to be able to do for her. So I said the death notice had to say house private. I learnt that from when my father died, we had housefuls the entire time. I couldn't cope with it then but it wasn't my decision and I knew that if I couldn't come home to hide, to plan, to prepared myself for what I had to do, then I'd never be able to do it. Plus with three dogs, it would just be too much and it would be upsetting for them too. 

So for the viewing in the funeral parlour, I printed out some photos of Momo, we put them in frames and they were like a gallery people could look at as they queued or came inside. My cousins came down from Dublin for it - there was a bit of consternation as they said 'oh we'll be there after 6 probably' and I said no, that the viewing was from 6-8 and we had to be there early because people would come early and I wasn't being caught on the hop by anyone. They said to start without them and I said no, that EVERYONE had to be there on time. And they were. I wasn't being a funeral-zilla but dammit, Momo would demand nothing less and I wanted this to be as professional a funeral as possible. I wanted people to remember it for being organised and nicely done, for it to be a fitting tribute to her. 
Usually the receiving line goes children of the deceased, their spouses and then grandchildren, but I wasn't going standing half way down the line with the others. Not after the last few years. So it was my mother, me, my aunts, my uncle, his wife, and the adult grandchildren. There were eighteen of us altogether. Someone said "OMG! So many grandchildren!" when they saw us all and my uncle quipped "Well, she was around a long time", and everyone laughed. There was a lot of laughter and that was good too. The atmosphere wasn't sombre or depressing. It was lively and there was a good buzz. Yes, there were tears too but we were celebrating her awesomeness more than mourning her. 

We were on our feet the entire two hours; apparently people had to queue to get in at one point. We saw people we hadn't seen in years, people came in from Connemara, friends of mine came in, people Momo used to go to bingo with, lots of relatives. Some of the Guide and Brownie leaders here came as well, which was so nice. They even came in uniform and did a guard of honour as the coffin was put in the hearse later. I was so touched. It was lovely. Colette said she didn't think Momo would have a big turnout as she was 101 and hadn't been out in years, but I wasn't surprised. She was hard to forget and she had helped a lot of people over the years. 

When we brought her to the church and said the prayers, the priest wanted to know what we wanted to do for the mass. Naturally I had that already sorted and I got various cousins to do different bits. My aunt said that you'd know I was used to telling kids what to do, even though most of them were adults, and I caught the priest smiling at me when I was telling people where to stand and made them practise their walks to the altar. Hey, there is nothing worse than people not being sure what to do and it's been my experience that once people have been put through their paces, it takes a lot of the pressure off and they do great when it's showtime, and anyway I told everyone there the reason I wanted this done right was for Momo, that she was owed the best we could do and I thanked them for helping me with this. 
A friend of mine had agreed to play the organ and I was going to sing the Lourdes Magnificat as the psalm and had planned our entrance, communion and recessional hymn. Sadly, nobody in our family seems to be very musical because I could get no volunteers to join my de facto choir until one of my cousins said his eight year old daughter might do it and she did. She sings in her choir and we went over the songs and she was great. And I really liked that someone was sitting beside me, I didn't care what age she was! I take any moral support I could get and she's a very nice kid anyway. According to her Dad, she's very dramatic in her ways. I told him that she was keeping up a family tradition! 

The mass was at midday. We sang nice lively songs - I wanted this to be a celebration more than anything else. We sang "Come to the Water" for the entrance, my cousin did the first reading, I sang the psalm, then one of Momo's nieces did the second reading in Irish. The priest gave a very nice sermon. We had six prayers of the faithful, all read by grandchildren and great-granchildren. I had written them out and numbered them so everyone knew what order to go in. Then we had the bringing of the gifts. Another cousin read from the altar who was bringing up what and why that had significance and his sister played "Ag Christ an Síol" on the tin whistle as he did so. I had selected, after the bread and wine of course, Momo's prayer book, her rosary beads, a small statue of Our Lady that she brought back from Lourdes once, the photo album of her life we put together for her 100th birthday party, and finally a clipboard to represent the board she used to bring with her to bingo games. 
For the communion hymn, we sang "Strong and Constant" and my cousin played "Mo Ghile Mheár" on the tin whistle. (She had 'auditioned' for me on Sunday night. She played the flute and the tin whistle - the tin whistle won because Jack didn't bark when she played but sat listening with his head sideways. It was very funny. She nearly couldn't play from laughing so much but was happy to have a rapt audience). For the final hymn, we sang "As I Kneel Before You", and we walked behind the coffin singing as it went out. 
I wanted everyone to have something to do, for everyone to be involved and afterwards at the cemetery, a man said "Don't take this the wrong way but that was one of the best funerals I've every been to". I was happy to hear that.

I felt that Momo deserved nothing less and the thought popped into my head that I wanted to do right by my queen. Because she was the queen of me and was forever telling me what to do. I didn't much enjoy it at times but now, I feel completely bereft! 

After the funeral, we walked to the cemetery behind the hearse. It's been lovely weather, really warm and sunny and that made such a difference to the whole thing. We could celebrate her life properly in this weather because it was too nice to be too miserable. And she did hate the rain.
Then we went to a local hotel and people had dinner. Colette and I had organised that at the weekend and the food was very nice. Once I'd started eating, I just got absolutely knackered tired. I've been tired the last few days but I had things to do so couldn't give into it. But after dinner, I was just done. So after talking to a few people, I decided to go home to my dog, where I am now, just enjoying the quiet. A lot of the cousins were gathered around having a drink and it looked nice but I was tired and I knew I'd only get irritable if I stayed and I didn't want to say something without thinking, something bitchy if anyone started talking about Momo. Today isn't about me and my issues with them and I don't intend to spend another minute giving those issues or the cousins much thought because it's done. They had their chance to be more involved with her.

It's going to be really weird not having her around. All my life, she's been there demanding my attention, my time, my assistance, talking to me, giving out to me, giving me presents, taking care of me. A couple of years ago, a situation arose at home and Momo said to those around, "Caro will take care of it. She knows what to do", and I nearly cried, I was so happy that she thought I was a competent at something! Then I nearly buckled under the pressure for fear I messed up and she took it back! 
My aunt said yesterday that Momo was well loved. (Poor Noreen, she's not great in situations like this what with the dementia and all and this has taken a lot out of her so she kept saying the same thing over and over.) And I thought Momo was loved because she thought it nothing less than her due. I know you can't force someone to love you but Momo demanded respect firstly, and because she was a capable competent person, she helped people out when they were in dire need and they loved her for it.  

So rock on, Momo. You were hardcore and there were days you made me scream into cushions, but you did your best for me and taught me a lot. 

I'm really going to miss my Momo. 
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June 2010

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