It was a year ago that dad passed away. He had a long life and was 100 years and 7 months when he went on the final journey. Although I knew this day would come eventually, it was still unexpected. I knew that saying the final goodbyes would probably be my last journey to England, to London, although you never know. I had prepared what I could in advance. It sounds heartless, but when you live in a different country and have a family there, you deal with as much as possible in advance. I was in contact with the funeral parlour, they were very good and helpful and even called me by phone, which does not go without saying on long distance calls from England. I gave out a small fortune calling various official goverment departments sorting the paper side of things.
I was put in touch with the minister who would be conducting the funeral service. I am an atheist and dad, well, who knows, but he only went to church for a marriage or funeral in the family so that just about explains it. He was not a true believer, perhaps you could say agnostic, but such words were not even included in a cockney vocabulary. If you were born in 1915 and survived a second world war as a soldier, you are glad to come throught it all alive and do not have time for church visits when in the middle of a war.
And so I met the minister online. Our correspondence was by e-mail sorting out how to organise the burial service. I knew we would only be few to attend: the lady and her mother that looked after him in his extra care appartment as well as my cousins and relations of his lady friend that departed a few years before dad.
I told the minister that dad was not a churchgoer and my position and he sent some suggstions of verses to say at the funeral. It seems that in England there was a good possibility to have a humanist funeral, and this was the direction I chose: not completely shutting religion out of it, the funeral being guided by a minister, but applying verses and a sermon celebrating dad’s life. The title of this prompt “Dash” reminded me of a poem we chose for the funeral by Linda Ellis copyright 1996 and suggested by the minister.
I found the poem on a web site, but although I would be permitted to recite it on the appropriate occasion, due to copyright I cannot print it here. Howver I can include a link The Dash in Between by Linda Ellis which is allowed. Please take time to read this, I found it an exceptionally good choice for dad. He spent his dash in a good way.
We all have our dashes. It might be just a short line, but can contain a complete life.