Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Remembering our deceased

In the midst of summer, our family had the opportunity to remember some of those we have lost. On Saturday, August 9th, one of this summer's truly stellar days, about 60 relatives and  friends gathered in Douro, near Peterborough, to bury Pat's brother Matt's remains. We celebrated his funeral mass in Peterborough last December but in true Matt fashion, he was late for his own funeral. His cremated remains did not arrive back from San Fransisco in time for the funeral. We decided to delay his burial until August, when many out of town family members could all gather.

And they gathered; from Dubai, California, Vancouver and all over Ontario. If a burial can be special or lovely, this one was. As we walked over to the cemetery an Irish family friend played a slow and mournful tune on the flute. It was a scene straight from an Irish movie. Matt's musician friend "Washboard" Hank, started things off at the gravesite by strumming his banjo. Many of us joined in, as he sang "That's the Glory of Love".  As on Matt's funeral day, we were blessed to have Fr. Leo Coughlin with us. Near the end, he asked us to make a circle as we said the Lord's Prayer. It was a simple but powerful gesture, to be able to see everyone together; Matt's community. The whole event was sad, moving and peaceful. Leo reminded us that our tears were a means of healing.

After the ceremony we went back to Matt's cabin and enjoyed food and music, courtesy of Matt's friends. The weather made it extra special; a perfect day to be at the Shaughnessy Research Labs, also known as Windswept Meadows. Later on, many of us had a swim in "Lake Shaughnessy", the gravel pit across the road.

In the late afternoon we drove about 10 minutes, to cousin Lori's place. She and her family hosted a Shaughnessy reunion. There were about 180 there. Lori and her family did a great job. Not only did they organize a wonderful party, they also included a ceremony to remember the sick and deceased members of the Shaughnessy family. After a moment of silence and a reading of an Irish blessing, we let helium balloons, in the colours of the Irish flag, rise to the sky. It was another poignant moment as we thought of those we have lost.

Family or school reunions send many people running in the opposite direction. However, as  life seems to be speeding up, I'm happy to take advantage of these opportunities to visit, on a positive occasion, rather than waiting for yet another funeral.

And so we were lucky, to celebrate two special family events on a glorious summer day.

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