The Service

We had Mom’s funeral service at the graveside. I have been to this cemetery many times before. My mother’s mother and father are there as are her uncles and aunts; my aunt and uncle are there. And now my own mother and father are there. It’s the ultimate family reunion site.

Yesterday I was concerned about a dark, gloomy, rainy day for the burial. It was quite the opposite.

Photograph: Grave Site

Grave Site on Long Island
Digital Photograph

Out of respect, I did not take any photographs at the graveside. I took this one as we were driving away. Mom is to the right of that mound of dirt.

The rabbi gave a nice, short service. He asked my brother Dave and I to say a few words about my mom, and we reminisced about her life, her kindness and her tenacity. The rabbi told a story about how it is the duty of the living to cover the casket with dirt, but since it is a task that is not wanted, the first three shovels full are attempted using the shovel upside down. It is a kind of protest statement as in, “I know I have to do this, but I don’t want to.”

Every time I used to go to the cemetery with Mom and Dad, they put a stone or a piece of gravel on a headstone marker. I thought that act was supposed to be a physical reminder that someone remembered the person in the grave. But the rabbi had a different explanation. He said that ‘in the old days’ only rocks were available to cover the bodies. With time, the rocks would settle and people walking by would put on more rocks to keep the ground at the same level.  I don’t know if I buy that story, but… it’s a good one nonetheless.

So my brother and I threw three upside down shovels full of dirt on top of Mom’s casket and then several more right-side-up shovels full. Everyone else who wanted was given the same opportunity.

I stared at her casket in the ground. I wanted to remember what it looked like for some reason. I’m really not sure why. Here is my recollection:

Watercolor: Mom's grave

Mom’s Grave
9″x6″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block

2 thoughts on “The Service

  1. I’m glad your mum got a good day for her send off. I know it’ll be a tough journey, but I hope you remember her, and all the good, and for the down days (and up ones) we’re here for you. 😊


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