A couple weeks ago I lost my Uncle Howard and his wife, my Aunt Mary (they’re on the right in this family photo from 19mmhmm), who died within a few days of each other, both in their ’90s and suffering from various ailments
Uncle Howard was my “funny uncle,” the one who always had a joke I’d never heard before, and who read me weird poems like “The Cremation of Sam McGee” and “The Barefoot Boy With Shoes On.” He was deeply religious (either that or he did a good job of faking it after marrying a deeply religious woman), and later in life he became the one who’d send out a Christmas poem, meticulously rhymed but with little regard for meter, that would reliably make me groan (and not in a good way) at the mawkishness of it.
Anyway, I just received (in the mail, from my folks) the program for the memorial service held for the couple, that included 3 Catholic priests as celebrants of the funeral Mass, and a variety of religious hymns and songs. But this struck me — at the bottom are two places listed for memorial donations, and neither are churches or religious organizations or faith-based anything, just the two secular hospices where they spent their last days.
I could be wrong, but I suspect that was a deliberate choice. Howard’s family (my dad’s side) wasn’t particularly religious, and Howard was always an exemplary model of how to live an obviously religious life without ever being overbearing about it. I’m gonna miss him.
(BTW, if you’re wondering, that’s me in the light-colored cowboy hat, along with my brother, my parents and my dad’s mother).