Christa's funeral service
Christa's1 death in 2007 was very sad, but at least it finally ended her pain.2 We both appreciated every message you sent us, believe me! And all your kindly thoughts and deeds since really are helping Peter and me, immensely, as we now re-build our lives without her. Thank you.
My beloved Christa was a very brave and special lady. We met in April 1974 when I was 22, and were very happy together for the next 33 years. She taught me to smile, always smiled when she saw me, and always said I made her toes twinkle! We truly loved one another with all our hearts.
I've never had to prepare a funeral service before — least of all for the funeral of my soulmate. Although I certainly knew it was coming3 I gave no advance thought to a summary or celebration of Christa's life because, frankly, it meant accepting her death. Intellectually, I accepted it. But emotionally? No way! But over the years since 1983 when she had her first cancer surgery we had talked gently about death from time to time, and what we might each want. Christa wanted a small-scale service, secular,4 informal, and happy.5 Plus she insisted on Pink Floyd! — I had introduced her to their music before we married, and she loved it.
The younger of her two brothers, Georg, very kindly sent over a letter to tell me that the German branch of the family were lighting candles in Meisenheim in the cemetery where her parents are buried at the exact time of the funeral service here in the UK. Georg and her older brother Karl (at Christa's request, though unknown to me) also arranged to place a notice of her death in the local German paper, and to install a beautiful memorial headstone on the Becker family plot. Pictures here.
My brother John, in New Zealand, polled his own branch of the Mounce family (the first of our four nieces was born just two days after Christa and I were married in September 1974) to gather, and jot down for me, their memories and feelings about "Aunty Christa" from the other side of our planet.
Many of our friends, relatives, colleagues and ex-colleagues over the years very kindly sent to Peter and me cards and emails consistently expressing their very real and deep sadness at her death, sympathising at our loss, and offering us many kind and generous tributes regarding Christa's beautifully sunny disposition, kindliness, and generous loving nature. I assembled some excerpts about his loved and loving mother for Peter to read for me at the service. I was very proud of the way he managed to do this.
My thanks to "Wordle.net" for the tool with which I generated this word cloud from precisely those excerpts.
As for me; what can I say? I truly loved Christa (and she me). But I also admit I truly didn't realise at first how many other people loved her, too. Maybe not as deeply as me. Maybe not for as long as I had. But she was one popular lady! So I realised that I was but one of many people feeling devastated at her death. I also realised I really didn't care who saw my emotions at her funeral. I reckoned if I couldn't show people the grief and pain I was feeling, I might as well give up pretending to be a human right now. So I make no apology for the emotions on display at the crematorium on that bleak yet sunny day. In the end, I hope I managed to do what a chap has to do when he has to say "farewell" to his girl for the very last time. And I managed to gather at least some of my own thoughts and feelings into a final farewell message to my beautiful soulmate.
- "Grantchester meadows" from Pink Floyd, as we entered the room
- "Time in a bottle" from Jim Croce,6 as we each remembered Christa privately
- "An ending (ascent)" from Brian Eno, after the formal words of committal