Funerals and weddings

I Love You Truly

Rather suddenly, I recalled attending many funerals and weddings growing up. And I don’t mean funerals of people I was close to, like the funerals of my grandma Agatha Green (d. 1964) or my great-aunt Deana (d. 1966). Or the weddings of my mom’s cousins, Donald and Robert.

No, most were my parents’ friends, and most took place at my church, Trinity A.M.E. Zion, in Binghamton, NY. I don’t know that it was explicitly stated, but there was an implicit expectation that we should attend these events at my church because it was what people in my community did. You show up.

The funeral part came to mind after the funeral of Al Easton. I attended a Death Cafe four days later. I was one of a half dozen facilitators in a ZOOM breakout room. At least three participants in our group of six were young college students who had never attended a Cafe before, and I needed to insert a conversation starter. Early on, I told about a story I heard at Al’s funeral, which was very funny, and I laughed heartily. (It loses something in translation.) I think the experience of going to a plethora of funerals has made talking about death less scary and more “normal.”

Also, as a kid, I read excerpts of and several articles about The American Way of Death, the groundbreaking 1963 book by Jessica Mitford about the emotionally exploitative funeral industry.

The same year as the Titanic

As for weddings, not only did I attend them, I sang at them as a boy soprano, almost always I Love You Truly, the schmaltzy 1912 tune:

I love you truly, truly dear,Life with its sorrow, life with its tear,Fades into dreams when I feel you are near,For I love you truly,Truly dear!

I performed this at least a half dozen times before my voice changed. It’s strange how that rushed into my memory.

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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