Music, flowers and funerals


Having just returned from a friend’s funeral made me think of other funerals I have attended in my lifetime. I remember the very first one was when I was only 5 years old, and my parents took me with them to my grandpa’s funeral. I still have vivid memories of all the flowers I saw there. They seemed to go from the floor to the ceiling. There were flowers everywhere at that funeral home.

It was in 1941 that grandpa had died. I wasn’t aware of what they were talking about when they said he would be going to Heaven. I remember assuming that Heaven must have been that place with all the flowers that went from the floor to the ceiling. Since no one explained the difference, that confusion stayed with me for a very long time. So, for years, whenever people talked about Heaven, I thought it was a room filled with flowers.

Another part of funerals is whether or not they have music. A long time ago, one of our previous ministers asked that our church choir learn to sing the “Hallelujah Chorus.” He said he wanted to be sure it would be sung at his funeral.

I was very glad to have learned to sing it. It’s a rather difficult song to sing, and I was surprised, and pleased, when one of the classes at our elementary school had it memorized and sang it at a Christmas program several years ago.

“Amazing Grace” is a familiar hymn that is often sung at funerals. It was especially meaningful to me when everyone sang it at our son-in-law’s funeral back in 2006. That may have been the first time I heard the new words for the 4th verse. The new words at that time were:

“When we’ve been there ten thousand years.

Bright shining as the sun

We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise

Than when we first begun.”

There’s no question as to the fact that by the time you get in your 80s, you have given thought as to what you want your own funeral to be like. You can go to the funeral home and plan the way you want everything to be, and they will see that your wishes are carried out.

Speaking of funeral homes reminds me of something I was told by a lady at work. If my memory is right, she told me that her husband had died when their daughter was only 3 years old. And a long period of time later as they were driving past the funeral home where his funeral had been held, her daughter looked at the building and said, “That’s where my Daddy lives.” That was a very sad story.

While writing the above part of this article, I searched out well-known hymns to play. I found that “Amazing Grace” is recorded by Il Divo (as well as the Gathers and others), and the hymn was written by John Newton who was born in 1725 and died in 1807. And it has had 67,642,047 views. Check it out for yourself, I think you’ll like it.

By Kay Conklin

Contributing columnist

Kay E. Conklin is a retired Delaware County recorder who served four terms. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a degree in sociology and anthropology.

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