It’s funny and absolutely a coincidence, but I am actually doing my nails while writing this text. I wonder how she had liked this color.
On Friday, my extended family bid our last farewell to the family matriarch. My aunt Inga-Märta passed away on January 29, a few weeks shy of 91 years old.
Inga-Märta was the youngest of the three children born here at the end of the road during the nineteen twenties. She was also the one, although burdened with ailments, given the longest life. And in February a year ago we celebrated her 90th birthday.
Family parties have always been an important part of my families social life, and on this day three generations were gathered for coffee, lots of pastry, stories and some singing. It was warm and fun, and even a bit sad. We suspected it might be the last big festivity on Inga-Märta’s behalf, and we were right.
Two days later, she gave in for the dementia and moved away from home in early summer. Inch by inch she deteriorated. There was nothing left of her the night she peacefully passed away with her beloved son and grandson by her side. It was the best of endings. And for all of us, as the family Christmas party was the day after and we all got to be together. I am sure she was aware.
On Friday, again, three generations were gathered for the funeral, as well as many friends. Nearly 91 years old, to have that many wanting to be there, says a lot about how Inga-Märta lived her life.
The ceremony was beautiful and warm. I was happy and grateful to hold both my sons’ hands. To hear my sister sing Handel’s Lascia ch'io pianga (Dagen är nära). And my nephew’s wife play the organ. It was difficult though watching our beloved Bertil, soon 98 years to be, at the casket. The only one left of the five cousins who ran the fields here in the village as children and who kept being close through their lives.
We have a family tradition for funerals. As we are all musical and many of us choral singers, we end the ceremony standing together in the front singing. My father passed away at Christmas time and we all said our farewell with one of the most loved Swedish Christmas songs, Jul jul strålande jul, in harmonies. Both my mother and my uncle’s lives ended in the summertime and so consequently we wanted our goodbye to be the summer hymn they both had been singing in choirs for all their lives, En vänlig grönskas rika dräkt.
For Inga-Märta, pretty much everyone in the little church formed a big circle around the casket, it was even hard to squeeze all of us in. And we sang to her,and to us a favorite evening hymn, Bred dina vida vingar. Surrounded by all her loved ones, that’s how she was received by the God she so firmly believed in. And entered the Heaven where she was to meet everyone passing before her.
I hope this beautiful tradition is now well founded in my children and their cousins, so that when the time for me and my five cousins is up, we will as well be sung off in this glorious, powerful and loving way.