I went to a funeral last week. I went because I knew his wife and wanted to support her but I’d met him only once. As I approached the crematorium there was queue to get in, a queue for the carpark, a queue for the crematoriun itself. Looking around it was astonishing to see that every generation was represented, from a babe in arms to a very elderly gent in an official jacket who stood proud to bid another old friend farewell.
As we filed inside there was music playing – Dolly Parton singing ‘Life is like a butterfly’ and as the music registered, smiles all round. Which was it that he liked: or was it both? It set the tone for the next hour: tributes were read, poetry recited and when a dignified grand-daughter paid tribute to her well-loved Grandad, even the elderly gent in the official jacket wept openly.
I left straight afterwards and drove along the road to Cobham still humming. I was honoured to take part in such a tribute, lucky to be aware that good people like that exist and are loved, and grateful to have been reminded of butterflies – fragile, transient but so lovely. It would be a pity not to enjoy them while we can.
I still feel humbled.