It tolls for thee

As you may have gathered from the latest comic, yesterday I went to pay my last respects+ to my uncle.

After many years of pain, he finally lost the battle with my aunt. He’d spent his entire married life trying to get a word in edgeways, without much success. I think after four decades of being told to shut up, he simply lost the will to argue and took the path of least resistance.

The requiem mass was a sad, sombre affair, as these things are and the church was suitably chilly. It’s been years since I was last inside a house of worship++, but I could tell it was a church, because walk-in freezers seldom have stained glass windows. Even the usual Catholic aerobics (stand up, sit down, kneel, bow your head…) did little to keep my circulation going.

The church bell rang slowly and dolorously as they wheeled the coffin out into the bright winter sunlight. It continued its mournful lament while we all shuffled out and stood blinking at one another in the parking area. I noticed a number of wizened faces peering at the proceedings through the fence of the old-age home across the road.

When I pointed out the ancient rubbernecks to my mother, we both had to make a supreme effort not to laugh, because we were both thinking exactly the same thing:

“Therefore, send not to know for whom the bell tolls…”

+ Weird fucking expression, that. It’s not like he’s around to appreciate it or anything
++ I’m actually surprised they let me in. I believe these days many congregations employ sniffer dogs to identify atheists. Kind of like in the Terminator movies


23 thoughts on “It tolls for thee

  1. After many years of pain, he finally lost the battle with my aunt. He’d spent his entire married life trying to get a word in edgeways, without much success.

    That’s why I started blogging…


  2. Walking freezer you say? I wonder if they’ll let me store beer there in preparation for the rugby tomorrow as there’s not enough space in the fridge.

    At least it give me a reason to go to church, to go pickup some booze for the game.


  3. These occassions are payback for all those weddings where the agéd ones poke me in the side and say “you next you next”.

    Shuts them up when you return the favour at funerals.


  4. Rev, if it’s a walking freezer it might just come to the game with you…

    Kyk, good to see you (briefly I imagine) back in longhand text again.


  5. i’ve heard “retirement homes” and “old age” communities referred to as “God’s Waiting Rooms”.

    so what do you call communities for us militant agnostics*?

    * “i don’t know and you don’t either!”


  6. spencer: Yes, but death doesn’t require constant updating.
    G. Bananas: It’s when they set fire to the little potpourri handbag that I snigger.
    revo: It’s a Catholic church. Your beer wouldn’t last the night.
    miss M: Nah. I never had any to begin with.
    dolce: Yeah, I enjoy saying, “My god, you’re alive! So that wasn’t you in the box?”
    atw: Actually, I typed this from scratch. Does that make a difference?
    daisy: University faculty lounges. * “Hah! Prove it!”


  7. miss M: and yet you say that with such dignity…
    shebee: Ja. I think they went for a closed coffin so we couldn’t see him smiling.
    robin: Damn, you got me.


  8. Condolonces Kyk.
    Funerals can sometimes be so surreal that it is more like a script for a move than anything else. Take my friend Mr Superhero for example. When his grandma died, the church was split into two segments as the one side of the family did not speak to the other. The one side of the family was posh, the other had people with hair implants and goth kids. Anyhoo, he was a pole bearer and since grandma booked her spot next to her husband years before, the grave was rather far into an already full graveyard – making the road there rather treacherous. Especially since the common side of the fam was taking pictures throughout with their disposable cameras. Imagine the horror / side splittingly funny moment when he stepped up on to the green velt to gently place her down on the “conveyer belt” and the pretty green gave way to nothing. He found himself half-way into the grave, cameras snapping away while grandma was audibly turning in her grave so to speak. Long story medium length, he recovered, placed her on the landing strip to her final resting place and just as the herst driver started lowering her, his cellphone (which was still in the herst and not going over into voice mail) started ringing – the ringtone… “take on me” by Aha. and that is how she went down. Classic. you couldn’t make that shit up.


  9. My late granddad used to refer to his old age home as “the departure lounge”. Not so funny when one considers spending eternity in SAA economy class, almost enough to make me renounce my atheistic vows.


  10. miss M: 😯
    anicker: Reminds me a bit of Eddie Izzard’s idea about “twanging them into a tree”.
    idlelayabout: Or better yet – one of the transfer buses.
    nursemyra: I wonder if I can exploit this principle to provide maintenance-free airconditioning at home in summer?


  11. nursemyra: Yeah! Like they do on the Discovery Channel.
    miss M: 🙄
    inyoka: You don’t know the half of it. You should meet my aunt.
    peas: It’s not all bad. Imagine how crowded it would be otherwise.


  12. @Catholic aerobics:

    Very funny! I always referred to it as the yo-yo church.
    The only way to get me into a church these days is if someone else has been hatched/matched/dispatched.


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