Planning the funeral of Dick Powell

The late Dick Powell, me, the late Les Green

His family held the funeral for my father-in-law, Dick Powell on May 22, 2021. It was precisely 13 months after he died. Ah,  death in the time of COVID, even non-COVID-related death.

The planning meetings, of course, were on ZOOM among my MIL, one of her sons and his family, my wife, my MIL’s pastor, and me. Dick had jotted down notes in his own hand from months before he got sick. His specific plans involved his four grandkids singing a specific song together, but that was requested pre-pandemic. The choir recorded the song, remotely, and other hymns as well.

Who’s going to read the Scriptures? I volunteered for Ecclesiates 3:1-8. Blame Pete Seeger, or maybe Roger McGuinn. Others selected Psalm  23 and 1 Corinthians 13.

Who’ll speak? Someone from his church, a few people from the extended family, and a few from the immediate family. My wife would certainly cite her favorite scripture, Micah 6:8, which is a motto of Dick’s church, “to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”

At the end of the service, there was a committal to the columbarium, a word I’m certain I’ve never written before in my life.

The immediate family mentioned, plus my daughter was at the church in person with the pastor, the organist at a distance, and one techie, likewise remote, and all fully vaccinated. Everyone else – the church members, the rest of the friends and family – was invited to participate via ZOOM.

The obit

Meanwhile, one family member had worked on the obituary for Dick Powell. If you think writing it a year after someone’s death would be easier, you might be thinking incorrectly. Noting all of his activities and accomplishments had the effect of dredging up some of the feelings of loss, but also of pride.

There are many schools of thought about what’s appropriate content in an obit. Having read thousands – I love a good one – I’m rather non-prescriptive about them. Except that I do like the listing of the familial connections, which will be useful for future generations of genealogists.

In general, waiting to hold the funeral and write the obit a year later than normal created a case of  dolore interrumpitur, grief interrupted. And that was undoubtedly enhanced by a certain family estrangement; I shan’t dwell upon that here.

Arthur wrote regarding the death of his husband a year and a half ago. It is pretty much what I realized some months after my father’s death over 20 years ago. “The thing about profound grief is that it’s not linear, and it has no timeline. How many times have I said that now?” Not linear; I’ve said that a LOT.

Dick Powell would have been 85 today.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

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