Thanksgiving vacation was sadly brief. Eileen was exhausted on Thanksgiving morning and slept late. I was planning to check on her around 10 AM, but I heard her stirring. We didn’t get away until later in the day (11 AM?).
Visits to my brother’s home in Unadilla can be a respite so the fact that we had to jump in the car yesterday and drive home was disappointing. Thanksgiving went well. Leigh knocked herself out preparing to host everyone. Ben, Tony, Emily, and Jeremy came for the meal and some visiting and then left. I only had one martini that evening. This may have helped offset the extra calories from all the good food.
After returning to Holland, I went over to church to prepare for this morning’s funeral. The funeral was the reason we had to come home a day early. The deceased is brother to three of my choir members. Their family, the Van Ark family, is very musical and admirably tends to celebrate the holidays together musically. They are planning to sing two choral numbers for the funeral today: Eagles Wings and The Lord Bless You and Keep You. Laurie Van Ark (who sings in my choir) gave me a copy of the former which I carefully prepared. This is a bit odd since I don’t remember when I have ever performed this piece of music as written. This is a point of contention between me and Bob Batastini. He heard me accompanying a congregation years ago and told me I was doing it wrong. I, of course, didn’t see it that way and he joined the numbers of musicians who seem to think I’m way off base about a lot of musical things. No biggie. I’m hoping that if I am supposed to accompany the second anthem they have music for me.
I took some pains over the organ music for this service. Helping a musical family mourn its dead can be tricky. I opted for some classy arrangements of the hymns they are singing today: “Come my way, my truth, my life” and “What wondrous love is this.” I am using these arrangements to show off the beauty of the organ and hope that this sort of thing is the ticket for this group. I think it will be. I am playing arrangements by Lindt who has done a book of organ pieces based on tunes by Ralph Vaughan Williams. He wrote the tun for “Come my way.” I added a nice little arrangement of the Vaughan Williams tune for “I heard the voice of Jesus say.” It’s a bit elegiac but it might also work.
I have to sort of take the temperature of the people who are present in order to make final decisions. If these organ pieces don’t seem to quite fit the mood and occasion I can easily improvise what strikes me as would fit it.
I continue to ponder my own demise. My extended family at Thanksgiving was very supportive and restrained about my cancer but didn’t seem too horrified when I joked about it. Mark, of course, is quite experienced with death and understands most clearly (like Rev Jen). Still it’s hard for anyone to watch people they love go through stuff. (I’m referring to people watching me go through stuff).
On the way over, Eileen told me she was trying not to submit me to her own anxiety. I pointed out that there is a difference between anxiety and fear. When someone you love is mortally ill, the logical response includes being scared. Or as Taj Mahal puts it: “If you ain’t scared, you ain’t right!”