Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Funeral

Riddle: If you throw me from the window,
I will leave a grieving wife.
Bring me back, but in the door, and
You'll see someone giving life!

What am I?

I went to Gail Frazer's funeral Friday.  She was the woman who co-authored the first six Dame Frevisse novels with me, then went on to write eleven more in that series by herself - plus seven in a spin-off series about some wandering "players" (actors), numerous short stories and, most recently, a stand-alone called Circle of Witches.  She was diagnosed with breast cancer about the time the first novel came out and then fought off recurrences of the disease five times before she finally died February 4.  A beautiful, gallant, intelligent, good-humored, determined, amazing person.  She, like me, didn't (doesn't) like the idea of embalming, so she wasn't; or those expensive sealed caskets, so she was buried wrapped in a blue shroud (with a heraldic white rose printed on the breast, (a mark of her support of Richard III), no coffin, in a special cemetery called the Prairie Oaks Memorial Eco Gardens.  For the funeral, the body was laid in a beautiful wooden casket made of unfinished wood, unlined, not even a pillow for her head.  Actors, SCA-folk, fellow authors, friends, came and spoke.  A table was heaped with copies of her books.  The service was held at one of the oldest buildings in Minnesota, the little stone chapel at Fort Snelling, built in the 1860s.  Her favorite music was played between readings by her two sons and daughters-in-law.  The theme from "Lion in Winter" (her favorite movie) was one, "Lord of the Dance" was another.  When they wheeled the casket out, those of us on the aisles could reach out and touch it as it went by.  Tears and laughter there was aplenty, because the music for that procession was "Ride of the Valkyries."  An extraordinary and highly individual experience, mapped in accordance with her wishes. It makes me think I should think about and write down instructions for my own funeral – and make sure people know about them. What special thing would you want for your funeral?

I want to thank Alix Jordan for sending me the link to a cross stitch pattern, Psyche Enters the Garden of Cupid, based closely on a pre-Raphaelite painting of the same name. It will work splendidly in The Drowning Spool plot. I had asked for The Secret Door, but it was not to be found, and anyway this will work even better. Thanks, Alix!
Answer to Riddle: The Letter N. Widow, Donor


Julie said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. It sounds like a wonderful sendoff, and something she had really thought about. I've given it some thought, and told the people most likely to be responsible. I should probably write it down, though. .

Linda O. Johnston said...

My condolences on the loss of your friend, Monica. It sounds as if she went out with flair.

Betty Hechtman said...

I am sorry for the loss of your friend and co author. I don't know how to say this without it coming out weird, but I thought you did a wonderful job of describing her and her funeral so that we got to know her essence.

Monica Ferris said...

It's not weird at all, Betty! I think funerals should reflect the life and beliefs of the deceased, and I am not afraid to contemplate what I would like for my own funeral. My mother and father both asked not to have a funeral and I've felt the loss. When someone dies, I think there should be a closing statement.