Posted by Lyra Mollington
Not long after I had decided on a burial shroud made of wool, lo and behold, up pops a woollen coffin – at the funeral of an elderly lady who loved knitting! I have to confess that, yet again, I did not know the deceased. I happened to be in the graveyard when I saw the cortege coming through the gates towards the crematorium chapel. Daisy was with me and we both slipped in at the back. Well, I slipped in and Daisy reluctantly followed knowing it was her best chance of a lift home.
Not only was it a woollen coffin, balls of wool and knitting needles had been cleverly incorporated into the floral display. Luckily the curtains weren’t closed so, when everyone had left, I got my digital camera out whilst Daisy stood anxiously by the door. She really shouldn’t have worried. As I pointed out to her later, there are some advantages to being a smartly dressed lady of a certain age. Never am I asked questions such as, ‘What are you doing?’ Or, ‘Who said you were allowed in here?’ Or even, ‘Why are you taking photographs of the coffin of a complete stranger?’ In any case, by the time the funeral director returned to retrieve the flowers, the camera was back in my handbag and I had taken three photos. And (hurrah!) one was in focus. Seb tells me that I’m too impatient – apparently my auto setting is automatic not instant – but in the heat of the moment it’s difficult not to get carried away.
Imagine my surprise when only three days later, I attended another funeral with an equally imaginative yet tasteful floral tribute. This time, it was for a gentleman who was passionate about gardening. He spent as much time as possible in his allotment where he grew all manner of vegetables. Yes, you’ve guessed it – the florists (such creative people) had incorporated veg into the floral arrangement! There was a lovely assortment including curly kale and purple sprouting broccoli. Sadly, I was unable to take a photograph. Even I draw the line at sneaking behind the curtains.
It’s fairly common for people to place objects on top of the coffin. I’ve seen flat caps, medals, teddy bears, hip flasks and a tea pot, but recently I’ve noticed that more people are thinking outside the catalogue when it comes to ordering flowers. However, I’m not so keen on those displays where the flowers are cut and stuck together to resemble an object. Or, even worse, when they have been sprayed with paint to achieve the desired effect. Nevertheless, I do admire the skill of the person who can make Paddington Bear out of a giant block of oasis and an assortment of flower heads.
Which brings me on to flowers in the shape of letters spelling out MUM, DAD and NAN. I’ll admit that when I first started seeing flower-names I was dreadfully stuck-up about it. Saying it with flowers was being taken too literally. But rather like digital television and the internet, I have warmed to the idea. There was no doubting their impact when, on my recent tour of the crematorium, I saw GRANDDAUGHTER sitting on the flower terrace.
Then, two days ago, I saw flowers spelling out a rude word in the back of a passing hearse. I am sure that such things are unremarkable to the broad-minded readers of the GFG blog. However, I was taken aback – not what Mr Chunky and I were expecting to see on our way to Barnes Common!
And then I realised I was smiling. Just as I had smiled when I saw Pat’s balls of wool and Victor’s turnips. And isn’t that how we want to remember the people we love – with a smile?