Sadly, I went to a funeral yesterday in Stia. A local shopkeeper, someone my friend Catherine and I knew from numerous visits to his shop, died tragically. Although we had committed to attending a workshop at the wool museum, we knew we had to attend the funeral Mass. It didn’t matter that neither of us is Catholic or that we couldn’t understand the service or eulogy, we had to be there.
After the Mass, we stood in line to offer our condolences to his sisters. Although we had looked up the translation of ‘condolences,’ we weren’t sure what to say, which I think is typical of these circumstances, no matter what the language. As it turned out, it didn’t matter; simply shaking his sisters’ hands and saying condoglianze and I’m so sorry was understood.
What touched me was coming out of the church to find everyone waiting quietly in the square. The hearse was pulled up to the steps of the church and once the family exited the church, it was driven slowly out of the square and down the main street, preceded by the priest and followed by the mourners, still quiet. Not until we had followed the hearse for several blocks did it stop and the crowd disperse before the hearse continued to the cemetery. I was told later this is traditional; only the close family goes to the cemetery, but the casket is escorted for a short distance.
We didn’t feel like going to the workshop, but felt we should stop by the museum and explain our absence. Once we got there, the woman at the desk said we weren’t too late to join in. As it turned out, it was a good antidote to the sadness felt ever since we heard about the death. We learned how to make a felted bird Christmas ornament with four eight-year-old girls and another woman. The girls spoke a little English and translated when we couldn’t understand the instructor (although the thing I realized about crafts is that show-and-tell works pretty well!). And if I may say it, they thought we were funny and entertaining. That may have had something to do with the bird at a certain point looking like the president-elect of the USA and when I play-shrieked his name, everyone laughed heartily.
I wrote recently about ‘working’ the dream as part of ‘living’ the dream. Yesterday was neither; it was about becoming part of the fabric of the place in which you live.