What I Learned at a Funeral

My dear Aunt Pinky passed away Saturday, March 2nd, and her funeral was Monday, the 4th.  I loved my Aunt Pinky, but had fallen out of touch with her after my Dad, her brother, died.

It was a four-hour drive to and from her funeral, so I had a bit of time to think about all that she meant to me and to so many others. Here are a few things I learned at her funeral:

1. People are more than who you think they are. Far, far more.Aunt Pinky

2. I would rather celebrate a life than mourn a death.  It is infinitely more valuable to talk about and, yes, laugh about her life and how she interacted with this world than to wonder how we are going to go on with her.  Just by living, she taught us so much. She showed us resilience in unbelievably hard times, how to laugh at ourselves, having the attitude “do what you can” will get us through most everything in life, and that no matter what we help each other.  A funeral is exactly the place to talk about the layers of her life. Each person carries with them their own experiences with her and their own understanding of her. Learning about her life from all these different people deepens our love for her and helps us realize what a gem we had.

3. A generation of my family has past. Their chance to influence is over. What part of their influences am I going to allow to carry on is, to some extent, up to me.

4. The Pinkstons, mainly Pinky, Junior and Betty, but also their children are a clever, wild, fun-loving, bunch of ordinary people who find themselves in deep nincompoopery from time to time. And talkative. That was the loudest funeral I’ve ever experienced.

5. I have under-appreciated my extended family.

6. When collecting family stories, the truth usually surfaces after gathering a sampling of the same story from numerous family members.  Always remember that if four people are each standing on a different corner of a four way intersection and there is an accident, the officer will get four different eyewitness accounts.

7. Pinching the skin on your elbow, no matter how hard, doesn’t hurt.

8. Be yourself at all times.


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