Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Dorothy's Funeral

Dorothy’s funeral was yesterday, at Saint Mary’s Church, Franklin, Massachusetts. Long before she died, she thought about what she might like for some of the particulars concerning her service. The funeral home, Oteri & Son, had previously been used by the family for interment of Dorothy’s sister, Patty, and Dorothy had made them aware, at that time, of what she wanted when her time came. It was a pleasant surprise to hear about this, as we had been unaware that she had made known her wishes in that regard. Anyway, I thought some of you might like to know about the music and readings she chose.

The form was the Order of Christian Burial as performed in the Catholic Church. I won’t take you through every bit of the rite, but it is useful to know that it includes the usual important events which transpire during Catholic mass – readings from both the Old and New Testaments; a gospel reading (followed by a homily, or sermon, from the priest, with inclusion of some reminiscence of the deceased’s life, most especially as it would tie in with the gospel reading, if possible); commemoration of The Lord’s Supper (communion); and a final commendation of the deceased into God’s hands.

There are spots within the service where music may be chosen for inclusion. Dorothy chose the following hymns:

Amazing Grace

Be Not Afraid

We Remember

How Great Thou Art

I was especially pleased to see that she had chosen Amazing Grace. It is probably my favorite hymn.

(Before I knew which hymns had been chosen, I had thought that one of them might have been On Eagle’s Wings, which was one of those I had chosen for My Father’s funeral mass. It was also used at a few other burial services I’ve attended, and it never fails to bring me to tears. Truthfully, I was afraid that Dorothy might have chosen it. I didn’t want to break down sobbing, and I could not have gotten through the singing of that song without doing so. As you can see, she didn’t choose it. However, when I opened the hymnal, looking for the other songs, it was the first one I saw. That, and another later coincidence, gave me pause for thought.)

I’ll now give you the complete readings chosen by Dorothy. I should mention that, since this was a Catholic service, one of the three may not be recognizable by even a very devout Protestant. As you may know, the Catholic Church considers inspired several books that are part of the Apocrypha, or extra-canonical literature, not included in the 66 books of the Protestant Bible. One of these is the book of Wisdom, written in approximately 100 B.C., during a time generally considered as a time of silence from God, between the testaments, in Protestant tradition.

Here are the readings, as they appear in The New American Bible, in the order they were read at her mass.

Wisdom, 3:1-6, 9

The souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them. They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction, and their going forth from us, utter destruction. But they are in peace. For, if before men, indeed, they be punished, yet is their hope full of immortality. Chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed, because God tried them and found them worthy of Himself. As gold in the furnace, He proved them, and as sacrificial offerings He took them to Himself… Those who trust in Him shall understand truth, and the faithful shall abide in Him in love, because grace and mercy are with His holy ones, and His care is with the elect.

Thessalonians 4:13-18

We would have you be clear about those who sleep in death, brothers; otherwise you might yield to grief, like those who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, God will bring forth with Him from the dead those also who have fallen asleep believing in Him. We say to you, as if the Lord himself had said it, that we who live, who survive until His coming, will in no way have an advantage over those who have fallen asleep. No, the Lord himself will come down from heaven at the word of command, at the sound of the archangel’s voice and God’s trumpet; and those who have died in Christ will rise first. Then we, the living, the survivors, will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Thenceforth we shall be with the Lord unceasingly. Console one another with this message.

John 11:20-27

When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet Him, while Mary sat at home.

Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would never have died. Even now, I am sure that God will give you whatever you ask of Him.”

“Your brother will rise again“, Jesus assured her.

“I know he will rise again,” Martha replied, “in the resurrection on the last day.”

Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he should die, will come to life, and whoever is alive and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

“Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, He who is to come into the world.”

After the service, MY WIFE and I spoke briefly to two of those in attendance. One was a hospice caregiver of whom Dorothy always spoke highly. The other was the woman (Gail Eddy) who has taken over the care and feeding of the feral cats that Dorothy so loved. It was a blessing to meet both; one who took such great care of Dorothy in her final weeks, and one who is continuing Dorothy’s good work.

The second coincidence I teased you with earlier? As we left the church, the first thing we saw was a cat walking out of the church parking lot. I had not asked for a sign concerning Dorothy’s well-being – I’m glad to say I had enough faith to KNOW she was well – but that would have done the job, and I’ll say thanks anyway.

And finally, here's an article, by Allison McCall, from The Milford News. I'd like to thank Ms. McCall for her understanding. I was touched by reading this. It is as fitting a tribute as I would have written myself. Allison interviewed me for this piece and it was a distinct pleasure speaking with her.

Soon, with more better stuff.


Fi from Four Paws and Whiskers said...

Been thinking of you this week JIm - but not commented so far.
I am glad the funeral went well- and that was a lovely article about Dorothy.

Craig said...

Thank you, Sully.

A good funeral is a wonderful thing. . .

Jeni said...

When I read your post yesterday, I refrained from commenting then as I went in search of the article you mentioned that probably would be in the Milford News -but it wasn't online when I looked for it and then, my senility factors kicked in and I forgot to go back to your blog and comment -until today! Thanks so much for posting the readings and music selections for Dorothy's funeral. I had never heard of the first reading (Book of Wisdom) but very much appreciated that piece. Although I am not familiar with the two middle songs she had chosen, the first and the last are two of my own favorite pieces as is "On Eagle's Wings" too. In my own church, there is one particular hymn that is frequently requested at funerals and is my own(as well as my entire family's) favorites and it's an old Swedish hymn -"Children of the Heavenly Father" which, in case my kids forget this, is on file in our church records office with other little requests I have given our pastor to use for my own service too when the time comes.
Thanks so much to you for sharing your cousin, Dorothy, with us over the years via your writings about her. I'm quite sure she is with the company of angels and archangels, waiting for others to join her in heavenly rest. All the work she did for all those cats over the years has to have given her that reward, don't you think? Peace.

Buck said...

Soon, with more better stuff.

Sorry, Jim... you can't do better than this. Thanks for the update and closure.

Michelle H. said...

Words can't describe the gratefulness I have to read your posts and have a peek into your life. Thank you for sharing with us the special things that happen in your life, even the sad events.

A great news piece! Those cats knew a good person when they saw her. It's wonderful that her efforts continue even now.

Uncle Skip, said...

Some might say that seeing the cat after the service was just coincidental
Not me
Coincidence is God's way of remaining anonymous

Stephen Hayes said...

It sounds like a wonderful service and a marvelous way to say goodbye while celebrating the life of a special lady. Love the cat sighting in the parking lot.

Hilary said...

I don't believe in coincidence. I'm so glad that cat made itself present. Lovely article.

Jackie said...

To know that Ms. Dorothy chose the songs to be sung during her funeral makes me happy, Jim. She is a fine lady...leaving behind memories that are for always.
I love "On Eagle's Wings." I play it on the piano sometimes when our pastor is praying. The words have deep meaning and the melody is one that touches the heart of all who hear it. Thinking about the love that an eagle has for her young as it is learning to fly...picturing her soaring very near to it and catching it on her strong wings when the need arises evokes something deep inside me...knowing our Father does that for us.
I wanted to also say that I am thankful that Ms. Dorothy's caregiver that she loved so much was at the funeral...and also Ms. Eddy. God bless them.
The article is wonderful. Ms. Dorothy's love for creatures that were less fortunate than others will live on. Thank you, Ms. Eddy.
The cat in the parking lot: a precious sighting.
Hugs and love to you and your family, Jim.

The Broad said...

Thank you for telling us about the funeral. The readings are so appropriate for someone like Dorothy to have chosen, aren't they? I am familiar with the first and last hymn, but not the two in between -- I will be checking them out later. You and your family were certainly blessed to have had Dorothy with you. Lovely article in the 'Milford News'.

messymimi said...

Thank you for sharing the details; it sounds like a service that honored her life.

Jenny Woolf said...

A touching description, it sounds like it was a good and appropriate funeral.

Barbara said...

Amazing Grace and How Great Thou Art are two of my favorites, and I love Be Not Afraid, too. Sounds like a beautiful, touching ceremony. The article was wonderful, too. Thank you for sharing all of it with us.

Kat said...

I am so sorry for your loss. You Aunt Dorothy sounds like a very wise soul. I love all the songs she picked for her funeral. Beautiful. There is a song called You Are Mine and I can't get through the first line before I break into tears. It is so beautiful and we picked it for my dad's funeral.
My good thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

Kat said...

Sorry. I meant your cousin Dorothy. My mom has an Aunt Dorothy so I think my hands typed before my mind thought it. ;)
Also, LOVE that a cat was walking out of the church parking lot when you came out of church. I am a BIG believer in signs. :)

silly rabbit said...

It sounds like a lovely, sweet service. The reading from Wisdom is a favorite of mine... as is this part of John. Sounds too like Dorothy knew what she wanted... and the gist of that was to comfort those who loved her.

Ami said...

I'm sorry for your loss, no matter how wonderful the funeral I know she will be missed in your life.

SueAnn Lommler said...

Farewell sweet Dorothy...enjoy your new home and dancing to the music of the angels

Shrinky said...

How fitting that cat flitted through, as if to honour her. Ahh, what a dear lady to make her arrangements without a word to anyone, she knew what she wanted, and didn't see fit to trouble anyone with it. I know she made a large mark on this world, and will be much missed. I'm glad the service provided comfort to those who loved her. ((x))

IT (aka Ivan Toblog) said...

Really good legacy she has left

Matt Conlon said...

I don't speak of death very well. In keeping with the old Irish traditions, we laugh at a funeral, cry at a wedding.

Great post sir. I hope the healing can now begin.

lime said...

i'm welling up a bit here. thank you for sharing this and sorry i am late getting to it (drowned laptop is really hindering my style!). i am glad to know the mass and article were such a fitting memorial of someone so special. the cat was just an extra measure of grace and it makes me smile to think of it. peace to you, my friend.

flutterby said...

Having read back over the last posts, I must say that your Dorothy sounds like a truly marvelous person. A life well-lived is truly something to be celebrated, and I'm thankful you were able to share how well Dorothy lived hers.

God Bless you!

Nezzy said...

Oh man, I saw ya out and about this mornin' and popped in to catch up.

I'm so sorry for your loss. Dorthy sounds like she was a remarkable woman who will greatly be missed on this earth. I can see that she'll light up the heavens dancin' with Jesus.

God bless ya and have a peaceful weekend.


Karen said...

I'm glad that Dorothy gave her input for her service. I particularly love the readings, and am adding them to my to my file for my dad's obit & service notes (for when the time comes) He'll be 89 this month and is in great health, thank God! RIP Dorothy <3

i beati said...

some real favs there

Ruby said...

The tribute was lovely. I believe in signs and I'm sure Dorothy is very happy wherever she is.

Anonymous said...

Dear Jim,

I've been busy lately and haven't been doing much blog reading. I'm sorry that I just found out about your cousin Dorothy's passing. She was a special soul who made a difference here on earth, for her family, like you,...and for God's feline creatures.

I'm a believer in signs, too. I know Dorothy was telling you goodby and that her heaven is filled with cats to care for.

Joanna Jenkins said...

Tomorrow would have been Dorothy's birthday-- big sigh.

I read the Obit-- Thank for including the link. I take my hat off to Dorothy for making so many plans for the service. My mother has done the same thing.

I'm hoping heaven is filled with cats for Dorothy.

Hugs, jj

Cousin Debbie said...

I am so sorry for Auntie Dorothy's Death....I have such good memories of my visits with Them at the numerous family reunions in NH.
It is so sad that the only time I was able to meet my dads side of the Family was at his house. (as you can tell I was not a fan of his). But I am so thankful to all of you that didn't allow my fathers behaviour and lack of any upstanding qualities get in the way of meeting who we were. So many are now gone... :( Jimmy I am asking, no in fact begging you not to let us slip away from a possibly wonderful relationship, because time is short and only God holds the end of chances to become a great family with who we have left.
and by the way it is the "wife" in my family pictures. and as soon as I get the scanner fixed I will send you the photos.

Gone but never forgotten.
Uncle Tommy, Auntie(Ba )Retzie, Aunt Anna, The Crazy cousins Dorothy, and Patty, (I am still amazed at how such "two old coots :) " could hold their weed. And of course Course Cousin Joey....You are all missed

Uncle Jimmy .... We are just waiting and hoping that someday soon you will realize regardless of genetics....Were a good group of loving people that are worth getting to know :)