I just came back from my uncle's funeral. It was a nice service; a full mass and I haven't been to a Catholic mass since I think my own first wedding in, uh, 1982, but I didn't get struck by lightning or anything. Although they've changed the words to everything, including the Lord's Prayer, again, and I never know when to stand up and sit down. Also, in complete blasphemy, I had forgotten to turn off my cel phone, and I couldn't figure out a polite way, seated up with the family and all my cousins and all (we were, of course, bordering on being late) to reach into my purse and turn it off, so every time we were supposed to pray quietly, I devoutly offered up my prayers unto God that the damn thing wouldn't ring, thus unleashing the Ramones plus a kind of vibrating mooing noise into the silent church. My stomach, objecting to the three cups of black coffee and half a pumpkin muffin, was making enough noise to fill the church anyway, and I prayed to God to make that stop too, but in his infinite wisdom he decided to let the ominous rumblings and glorping noises continue.
The reception after the service was lovely, full of cousins and their children, all of whom have grown alarmingly, and some of whom, even more alarmingly, look identical to their parents. It's scary how much we all look alike, actually; there were photos of my aunt (her husband, my uncle Jack, died; my aunt is my father's sister) as a young woman and I didn't realize how much she looked like my father; how much I look like her, and was reminded again of just how much my son looks like my father. My son will be sorry he missed it; some of my cousins' girls are about his age and they're an astonishingly pretty bunch. They cried. I got a bit teary eyed myself. There were golf jokes (we're that kind of family, yes) and some of my cousins spoke about their father, sweetly and well, and my cousin who is a master brewer in California brought not only a keg of beer he had brewed in his father's honor but also his utterly adorable 2 1/2 year old son who I had never met before. It was a nice afternoon, if you can say that about a funeral. I'm sorry Uncle Jack wasn't there, because he would have enjoyed it - my mother said perhaps the nicest thing you can say about anybody about him on the ride up, to wit: "You always wanted to be seated next to Jack at a dinner party, because he always had something interesting and funny to say; he could carry on a conversation about anything." My father would have liked it as well.
I don't see my cousins often; and when I do it's usually for something like this. There doesn't seem to be any way to get around this aging and cycle of life process. Our lives are all different, have always been, although as we all get older that stuff matters less, I think. They usually say something to me about how wild I am (my older brother and I are the token black sheep of our family) and I usually say something witty back about how somebody has to do cocaine with rock stars but really, I am glad I have them, and I kind of wish we saw each other more often, without death.
Raise a glass to Uncle Jack. He liked dogs, and golf, and kids and sports. He raised 6 good kids and he told many a kickass anecdote.