It feels like a year since I last wrote, but that must be because the last 10 days were so full.
Sunday before last I went to Dundrum Shopping Centre on the South side of Dublin with Frank’s sister and mother. His sister, Lorraine, works for a fine clothing store called Monsoon, and the Dundrum location also has their bridal wear! So we braved the lashing rain and went down to check out their wares. I ended up finding a lovely dress and was able to get it with a 50% discount from Lorraine, so I bought it and brought it home with me! Let it never be said that it’s impossible to find bargains in Ireland! So now the dress is purchased, and it feels like it’s really happening! But don’t get sneaky and go looking online to try and guess which one I have – my dress is no longer shown in the current Monsoon catolgue! Ha!
However, on a sadder note, on Monday we found out that Frank’s grandmother’s health had gone downhill very quickly, so we all went to her side to spend her last few hours together. By midday Tuesday, she had passed away.
The rest of the week was filled with the wake, prayers at the funeral home, blessings of the graves, church services, visits and, of course, the funeral. I’ve never been so actively involved in a person’s death before, and while part of that was because I am now very nearly “family,” it also goes with the territory in Ireland. Loss of a loved one is something that the entire community embraces, and it’s both touching and exhausting. I won’t go into too much detail here for the sake of privacy, but let me just say it’s a beautiful thing, and not at all strange. While the family, friends and neighbors openly mourn together, there is also a great amount of joy and laughter in the storytelling and fellowship. And while I found some of the traditions rigid (how many Hail Mary’s???) and others curious (everyone wants to touch the body to say goodbye), there were many others that drew me in and hopefully showed me how to look after those who knew Sheila best.
One of my favorite things – as the funeral procession followed the hearse on foot from the mortuary to the church, every car along the way stopped in the middle of the road until the hearse had passed. Also, any joggers or people walking along the same street stopped as we passed by. Some crossed themselves, others looked away… but everyone gave their silent respect to the mourners, even in the middle of rush hour traffic. Well, everyone except for one of the town’s more colorful characters, a man named Paddy who thinks he’s Elvis. He happened upon the procession as he stumbled out of a liquor store and began to shout nonsense at us.
I didn’t really know Frank’s grandmother, but somehow, I think she may have had something to say back to Paddy. I know it was hard for me to stifle a giggle and keep walking.
May Sheila, now reunited with husband Bill, Rest In Peace.