Friday, 19 February 2016

Sofia... my own funeral was such fun!












Howde Folks!

Sofia still here. I hope you'-re enjoying my company this month. Lady M had a fantastic day on Tuesday. She's just about over the hangover and getting used to being 65. She's frightened to blink in case she suddenly reaches 70 without realising. She has learned that the older you get the quicker time seems to pass by. Actually, it's psychological. It is because you have more memories that time seems to go more quickly. In childhood the days just seem to last forever. Mortals tend to have a fear of death. Let me reassure you. Death is simple, it is in a blink and you move on to the afterlife which is nothing to be feared. You also have an enjoyable experience to look forward to... witnessing your own funeral. Just to reassure you I will share my experience with you.


                                                                   ***

When she had looked down at her earthly body after seeing her father properly for the first time in five years she had realized the awful truth: she was dead. Deceased. Dead. Now she was watching her own funeral with her father, Scott.

She was standing at the side of her coffin with her eyes firmly fixed on the children. How would they cope without her?

“Look Sweet Pea.”

“What, Dad?” It was so good to be with her father again and to hear him call her by the affectionate term of “Sweet Pea”; originally derived from her initials SP, for Sofia Pemberton.

“Reverend Harper.”

She looked back at the pulpit and saw him open an envelope and unfold a piece of paper which was vaguely familiar. He began reading from it and she recognized it as the letter she had given him three months prior to her death,

“Please do not wear black. It is my wish that people are happy and not sad. Please wear bright colours and be cheerful.” He paused, “this information was given to me by Sofia in February and if she were here today she would be pleased to see so many of you in the church so brightly adorned and not wearing black. It was almost as if she had a premonition of her death…”

Sofia started giggling.

“Be quiet Sweet Pea and listen to what he has to say about you.”

“Well, you’ve got to admit it’s funny. I think I’m going to enjoy this “afterlife” thing. It really is quite amusing.”

“…I have known Sofia since she was a child. She was baptized and confirmed in this church. I have watched her grow into a beautiful young woman; a woman who cared for others and was always eager to help anyone in need. As a nurse she was a comforting figure to many who were in pain or suffering. After marriage she became a proud wife and mother devoting her life to her husband, Derek and her two children Sophie and Donny. We console them on their considerable loss but reassure them that Sofia is now in a better place…Also on this piece of paper,” he held it up for the congregation to see, “Sofia clearly stated her wishes. Her final journey was to be by horse and carriage and she wanted flowers. She gave a list of hymns and readings and we shall conclude this service with Make Me A Channel of Your Peace before going to the crematorium. Her ashes will be spread on the pond in her garden later by the family.” He looked at the list of hymns, readings and information.

PLEASE DO NOT WEAR BLACK. IT IS MY WISH THAT PEOPLE ARE HAPPY AND NOT SAD. PLEASE WEAR BRIGHT COLORS AND BE CHEERFUL.

                                   HYMNS

The king of Love my Shepherd is

You’ll never walk alone

Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer

Make me a channel of your peace

 How Great Thou Art

 Jerusalem

                               READINGS

 Psalm 23

John 14 v1-6

1 Corinthians 13 v1-13

Ecclesiastes 3 v1-8

Desiderata 

 I would like a selection from the above hymns and readings in my service which should be more of a celebration of my life than a dirge over my death. I would like my final journey to the church to be by horse and carriage and lots of floral tributes rather than donations. I love flowers and have sadly missed them during the last years.

After the service in church I wish to be cremated and my ashes spread on the pond in our garden so that I can be near my children and they can walk down to me whenever they want.

 Sofia Haslington 21st February 2005

        

He was satisfied that her wishes had been fulfilled and he intended giving the document to Derek at the crematorium.

The only people wearing black; their traditional uniform was the funeral directors who now moved forward to the coffin and removed the two beautiful floral arrangements which lay on the top. Sofia moved forward to read the cards. Naturally, the large mixture of seasonal blooms which almost covered the lid was from Derek. She read his words and then howled with laughter,

To my darling wife, Sofia

You were my first love and my love for you will never die.

I miss you my darling and I am lost without you.

Your ever loving husband, Derek.

“Why are you laughing?”

“Read Derek’s words, Dad. What a lying hypocrite! He doesn’t know what real love is and the only person he has any affection for his himself. He’s a cold, heartless heart surgeon. He’ll have hated spending money on those flowers. It’ll be for show and to impress everyone.

“That’s Derek, Sweet Pea. Look at the other floral tribute.”

The much smaller bouquet of twelve pink roses with foliage had a card with one simple word, Mummy.  That one simple word spoke volumes and said so much more than all of Derek’s spiel.

The coffin with her mortal remains was now being moved down the aisle on the shoulders of six strong men.

“Come on. Let’s follow it to the crematorium and then we can go back to the party at the pub.”

“Will that still be going on?”

“Of course.”

Derek with head held high was following the coffin and leading the mourners out of the church. Sophie and Donny walked behind him still holding hands and trying to silently comfort each other while Miranda followed them. Scott and Sofia walked on either side of her. She had adhered to Sofia’s request and was dressed in a red/blue/orange/green coloured caftan which resembled Joseph’s coat of many colours.
                                                                     *
 
By now they were outside the church. Her coffin was being placed back in the hearse ready for transporting to the crematorium. Derek was clearly enjoying being the centre of attention as people came up to him and muttered condolences or tapped him on the shoulder as a show of support.

“Come on Sofia; let’s get to the crematorium before they arrive.”

“Okay, Dad.”

The next thing Sofia knew was that they were standing by the entrance to the crematorium as the hearse and cars drove in.

“How did you do that?”

“Do what?”

“Get here so quickly.”

“It’s the power of thought, Sweet Pea. You’ll learn to use it soon. Remember your physical body or shell is in that box; what you have now is completely different.”

Sofia looked down at herself. She was dressed in the same clothes she had worn on that fatal day when she visited the Victoria Centre in Nottingham; jeans and the bright caftan top. They still looked clean and presentable despite the fact that it was now May 13th and she had been dead for eight days. To her, her body looked and felt just the same.

The pall bearers were carrying her coffin into the crematorium.

“How do I change these clothes? I must have been wearing them for a week but it only seems like minutes.”

“I’ve told you time doesn’t exist here. If you want to change just think about what you want to wear.”

She closed her eyes, thought, opened them again and was wearing that beautiful beige, halter neck, knee length dress with a white flower pattern in the skirt, brown edging round the bust and hemline, a back bow and white lace both at the bust and hemline. She looked down at her dress and the beige wedged sandals. It was the attire she had first worn on that Sunday almost a year ago when she had started to change her image. She remembered how she had gracefully walked down the stairs to where Derek and the twins were waiting to go to Chilwell for the usual family brunch. Derek had been furious because she was not only wearing makeup, something which he had forbidden her to do but she was also showing her legs and in wedge sandals she towered over him.

“I remember the first time you wore that. Derek’s face was a picture. I thought it might bring on a coronary he was so red and angry.” Scott uttered, “Come on; let’s watch you turn into ashes. Don’t worry. You won’t feel any pain when you physical body is finally disposed of. It’s much better than being left six feet under and decomposing at a slow rate.”

They walked into the crematorium next to John Taylor, the medium who had known of her imminent death but could not tell her during the reading. He was the only person who could see her and Scott and smiled at them.

“We’ll sit next to you.” Scott said.

John nodded.

“It’s difficult for them, Sweet Pea. If they talk to us when other people are around it looks as if they are completely bonkers talking to invisible people.”

“I guess it must be.”

Her coffin was in place and everyone was seated for her final departure although most of them were more concerned about the banquet that they would be going to afterwards. Derek was well-known for his extravagant barbecues. The first one had been a couple of weeks ago on the May Day Holiday. The marquee was still up in the garden and although Derek had employed a catering company for the wake; they all knew it would be a “first class” do.

The Reverend Harper was at the front calling for the mourners to join him in saying The Lord’s Prayer. Suddenly, the quiet, stillness was disturbed as a chorus of voices started muttering, “Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be they name, Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done…” The voices started to fade at this point as it was clear that at least half of the congregation did not know The Lord’s Prayer. They were “the hatching, matching and dispatching” kind who only attended church on the three main occasions in life.

When the “Amen” had been said by the truly faithful ones Derek walked out of the front pew and stood in front of the coffin. The Reverend Harper looked at him and said,

“Derek would like to do the final reading.”

“Trust him,” Sofia said.

“You know he has to be in the limelight. He couldn’t possibly let you have all the attention even at your own funeral.”

Derek coughed to clear his throat and make sure everyone was listening to him before beginning, “The reading is taken from the First Book of Corinthians, chapter 13, verses 1 to 13. It was one of the readings which my dearest wife chose…” He paused as if overcome with emotion.

“Trust him”, Sofia repeated, “He’s chosen the longest of the readings on my list; dearest wife indeed! Hypocrite! It’s just like those flowers. Everything’s for show. He’s even pretending to be overcome with emotion. Go on Dad, have a puff on your cigarette and give them all the beautiful aroma of “Embassy”.

John was the only one who could hear the conversation between Sofia and Scott and muttered under his breath for her to hear, “True, true”.

“…I may speak in tongues of men or of angels, but if I am without love, I am a…”

“Love! What does he know about love? Hypocrite!”

Scott had started smoking again and they both watched as people seemed to be more concerned about an aroma of cigarette smoke than listening to what Derek was saying. Sofia continued, “Come on Dad, let’s go to the front and heckle him.” They moved toward the coffin. John watched them and smiled encouragingly as Scott blew smoke rings in Derek’s face and Sofia was sticking her tongue out at him and making faces.

“…Love is patient; love is kind …love will never come to an end…” By now Derek was aware of the “Embassy” aroma. He was used to it at home and very much aware of his father-in-law’s existence even in the afterlife and realized that Scott and probably Sofia were by his side and deliberately sabotaging his attempt at claiming some glory on this occasion. Sofia had been out of his control during the last year of her life. During their ten years of marriage he had successfully turned her into one of his possessions, killed off her independent spirit and taken complete control of her until the last months when a rebellious streak had changed her. She had started to fight back. He thought of the recent occasions when she had embarrassed him. There was the hospital fĂȘte when she had insisted on entering the fancy dress competition as Lady Godiva and then she had entered a competition without his authority and taken the first prize of a trip to New York alone. The thought of the expensive weekend in Athens crossed his mind; she had manipulated the situation and forced him to pay for his brother and sister-in-law as well.  Even now at her funeral she was upstaging him. In death as in life it seemed that he was unable to control his wife.

By the time he had reached the tenth verse of his well-rehearsed reading he found himself automatically raising his voice in a pathetic attempt to compete with the pungent aroma which his audience were more interested in than his words. John was watching the two of them and having difficulty in keeping a straight face; it had become more of a comedy act than a funeral. He wanted to stand up and shout “Encore” as Sofia and Scott were putting on such a grand performance.

“…In a word there are three things which last forever: faith, hope and love; but the greatest of them all is love.” At this point Derek closed the Bible he was reading from and returned to his seat.

“Love, what does he know about that? He’s the heart surgeon without a heart.”

The Reverend Harper was talking again. They were to sing the last hymn before the curtains closed in front of the coffin. Guide me O Thou Great Redeemer suddenly echoed round the room. Sofia wanted to rush over and hug Donny and Sophie; they were holding hands, tears trickling down their faces as they watched their mother’s coffin slowly disappear from view. She was gone forever. Scott held her back;

“You can’t do anything for them at the moment.”

“Look at Derek and Miranda.”

 Neither of them had noticed that the twins were crying. Miranda was happily thinking of herself in Sofia’s shoes; living permanently at Haslington Towers looking after Derek and the twins and being a lady of leisure. It was a pity that she had lost Donald earlier in the year and been widowed but as Sofia had always said everything happens for a reason and if by losing Donald she was to gain all that Sofia had had then it was worthwhile. She had recently learned that she was never to have children of her own so to have Sofia’s ready made family was the fulfilment of her dreams. She was definitely the happiest person at the funeral.

 Derek, too, was in his own dream world as the coffin disappeared. At last the woman who had bore his children and then become an uncontrollable source of embarrassment was out of his life. Miranda would stay in his home and look after him and the children. She would never embarrass him in the way that Sofia had. In a few minutes time they would leave the crematorium. The vicar was just telling people that they were all welcome back at the house where refreshments were waiting for them. Derek would be in his element again; the centre of attention or the focus for everyone’s condolences. He was particularly enjoying the fact that people were paying him more attention because of the loss of his twin brother and wife in such a short space of time.

 He had loved the newspaper article. The headline, Double Tragedy For Heart Specialist was specifically about him! He was THE heart specialist mentioned on the front page of The Nottingham Post. The story of his wife and brother’s deaths was irrelevant as far as he was concerned. Everyone who read that article was reading about HIM!

It was time to leave. Derek walked out of the pew with his head held high again. He was the one everyone would look at. He did not even turn and look at Miranda or his children. It was Miranda’s maternal instinct which took over when she noticed they were crying. She gave them both a hug as they slowly left the pew and told them that their mother would be proud of them.

“Their mother certainly is.”

“Miranda will look after them, you know that.”

“Yes, Dad, but it’s all so strange. I just want to be able to cuddle them.”

“That’s not possible, Sweet Pea, but you can see them even though they can’t see you and you can watch over them. Now let’s go and see what kind of spread he’s put on for you at the house.”
 
                                                                      ***
Please remember you may read all about me in the books known as The Sofia Trilogy. Follow the link http://sbprabooks.com/MarilynLRice

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My thought for this week: Make it full of magical memories!
Love, Sofia. xxxxx     

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