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Monday, 11 July 2016

The day of the funeral

Someone kindly gave me a bunch of white carnations for the funeral today. I brought them home and put them in water. There were ten people attending the short service, which only took about 30 minutes, and who later came next door in the funeral home to have sandwiches and sausage rolls and small, coconut-filled cakes. There were also scones with jam and fresh cream. There were jugs of fresh juice and cups for coffee.

Two people stood up to give an account of their memories of mum - myself and G, mum's housekeeper - and there were also some words from mum's niece who is currently on the road with her family crossing central Australia in a car. I spoke extempore, without notes, as did G. Clare's words were spoken by the civil celebrant, Charyl.

My contribution was basically a brief biography. I remember I was looking down at the lectern all the while I was talking. I felt more comfortable talking this way, rather than looking up at the collection of people in the room. I was a bit worried about suddenly tearing up with emotion if I caught someone's eye, so I just kept my eyes lowered during the whole of the delivery, which took about ten minutes. G told me she started to get nervous during her presentation. In fact she did very well. She said later that I could be heard quite clearly while I was talking.

After the service - during which we watched a short photo montage of images taken from my collection of photos of mum - everyone gathered outside where the casket by this time stood in the hearse. We said our last goodbyes. Clare's mother, mum's sister-in-law, guided me to the coffin and I started to get emotional. I touched the cold, varnished wood, which was a mid-brown colour, and I could see the condensation from my warm hands forming on its surface. I took back my hand and turned away from the coffin. The hearse started to move off after they had closed the swing door and moved slowly around toward to cemetery, which is located just down the road. The cremation will probably have already happened by now, or if not yet, then soon.

We all gathered in the room next to the chapel where the food was laid out. We stood around in small groups talking. The staffer in charge of the event came and spoke to me briefly about future things - including the death certificate, which he says will take the government about two weeks to produce - and then he left to attend to other things. I asked for containers to put excess food into. We had originally planned for about 20 people so there were a lot of uneaten scones by the end of the morning. Someone brought plastic containers into the room and left them near the hot-water urn. I picked them up and started to load them with sandwiches and cakes using the tongs that were scattered around the place. Others did similarly, in preparation for taking home some simple refreshments. Later, we drove down the motorway and I dropped off two friends in the city who had arrived at the event by train. Then G and I drove home through Chinatown.

When I got home I opened up the box containing the visitor's book and in it was the death certificate that was filled out by mum's GP after her death. It said that mum had died from cardiovascular collapse which had proceeded for minutes before life expired. So she had finally died of a heart attack related to the sepsis.

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