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pop up baby jesus

It was a nice funeral. The priest actually knew Patsington's grandmother, and so the little homily he gave actually felt like it meant something. And it was an amazingly beautiful sunny day, more like May than the end of March, which somehow made everything more serene. Until you glanced at the faces of Patsington's mother and her siblings. Most of the time, they were all fine, looking after everything and talking to relatives and family friends. And then every so often, when they thought no one was watching or when they remembered, with a horrible shock, what exactly had happened, a look of pure, raw grief would flash across their faces and break your heart.

But, if it's not disrespectful to say this, in some ways it was a fun weekend. After the removal there were "Good Friday Refreshments" (read: no drink and lots of veggie sandwiches) in a nearby hotel which used to be a hunting lodge and which was full of weird little corners and bizarrely huge carved fireplaces, where P and I hung out with his cousins and talked first of all about his granny and then about pretty much everything. And then Patsington told us about the Baby Jesus Pop-Up Book Statue. During the removal ceremony, he had noticed a statue of a saint holding a book on which was standing an infant figure, and it struck him that it looked as if the saint had just opened a pop up book and this baby had popped out of it. Which is of course, extremely funny.

So the next morning, there we were at the church for the actual funeral service, and it was, obviously, all very sad and solemn. And then I glanced over and saw the aforementioned statue. And it looked exactly - and I mean exactly - like a statue of someone holding a very, very odd pop up book. The saint - in monkish garb - had the book held open in one hand, while his other hand was raised in a gesture of surprise. And the Baby Jesus (for it was he) was perched in the middle of the book, where he had adopted what can only be described as a.....prancing stance, on one foot, while both his hands were held aloft in a sort of debonair, "hee hee, you weren't expecting this, were you, Saint X?" way. Basically, this statue was absolutely hilarious, and every time it caught my eye during the service I wanted to laugh, which would have been dreadful.

Afterwards we went to another hotel and got fed, and then Patsington, his siblings, his 20-something cousins and I all sat out in the hotel's beer garden in the gorgeous summery heat and drank wine and laughed a lot. And then there were the babies (well, the baby and the toddler). Two of Patsington's cousins have small kids, who came along and were extremely well-behaved - the baby, seven-month old Ben, started to grizzle a bit in the church, but then his dad gave him a toy and he became absorbed in it. In fact, Ben, despite periodically breaking into a delightful gummy beam, was a very serious baby. He was fascinated by everyone who came near him, and liked to gently pull people's hair and gently touch their faces. He prodded and pulled at us with an air of incredible solemnity, like an infant archaeologist excavating old ruins – which I suppose we were, to him. His fat little hands were like velvet starfish, and the casual perfection of his small round face took my breath away. In a word, he was enchanting.

His three year old cousin Josh was less awe-inspiring and more fun. He had an extremely bold little face, but it was a very funny and charming one. He fell in love with Patsington and insisted on being chased by him around the hotel. "Patsington! Chase me again! Run! Run!" Then he kindly invited me to join in, so we chased him about for a bit (very funny, because he just finds being chased hilarious and laughs all the time) , before he took P and me by the hand and led us off to a tree, where he announced he was "playing shop". Which went something like this.

Patsington: Can I have a bottle of coke?
Josh: Yes! [picks leaves off tree and gives them to Patsington]
Me: Can I get a carton of milk?
Josh: Yes! [presents me with leaves].

After all this excitement, I decided to introduce Josh to the charms of “one, two, three –wheeeeee!”, a game which my parents used to play with us. It involves two adults walking along with the small person in the middle. You each hold a small hand and place your other hand under the small person's arm, and then you step along and go "one - two - three - wheeeeeeeee!" And on "wheeee!" you lift the small person into the air and carry them aloft for a few seconds. I have yet to meet a child who doesn't love this game, and Josh was no exception. Afterwards he made me "walk-chase" him, and whenever I caught him I'd ask, "do you want to go back to Mummy or to Patsington?" And he'd cry "Patsington! Patsington!" It was all very funny, not least because Josh looks exactly like P at the same age (some of you are familiar with the highly amusing/extremely scary photo of the youthful Patsington wearing an army beret and holding a huge - and real - shotgun. Well, Josh looks like that. Without the beret or gun). Playing with Josh made Patsington and I remember how much we like kids, but it also, with some horror considering we're only 29 and 30, made us realise that we may be too unfit to actually deal with them. We were totally exhausted after just one afternoon of running around with a three year old. This does not bode well for our suitability as parents. Maybe we could get some sort of baby wrangler to exercise our future progeny?

We left the hotel in the early afternoon and went back to...the hotel where we were staying (so many hotels). By evening and drinks in the hotel bar, we were all exhausted, but Patsington's brother was determined to go out on the town in Cork - and their cousin was DJing that night in one of Cork's oldest gay bars, which was a good excuse to go out. Much as I would have enjoyed such an outing (the cousin in question is great, and a perfect out-on-the-town companion), I was just too tired, but P, his brother, and his sister's boyfriend were all feeling lively, and so madly went out till four in the morning. Which is why both of them are still so tired a day and a bit later that one is still in bed and the other (Patsington) is just up and feebly sipping coffee. I, of course, am sitting here working away, clad in my fantastic Drumcondra hoodie which arrived in my absence, and feeling rather Springlike.


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 28th, 2005 10:25 am (UTC)
Pop up baby Anna! I love your weekend, and your babies. Also, I must see the photo of Patsington once more before I die, I think. Kisses!
Mar. 28th, 2005 10:38 am (UTC)
Hee! The babies were so cool. And a tiny version of the Patsington photo is available on his band's website, because it was the cover of their first single - go to the "releases" section and scroll down.
Mar. 28th, 2005 10:28 am (UTC)
I don't think it's disrespectful in the least - and it does sound like a nice weekend.
Mar. 28th, 2005 10:41 am (UTC)
I suppose I felt a bit guilty because we were having fun, but P's mother and her siblings really weren't, so I felt a bit callous every so often. The death wasn't a shock at all, so everyone had sort of already done their grieving - but it was still more of a shock to her children than her grandchildren.
Mar. 28th, 2005 10:52 am (UTC)
I like to think of funerals as an opportunity to help soften the sadness by sharing happy things about the person who's died. That's why those who are most badly affected, like the children of P's grandmother, gather people like you around them, rather than locking themselves away to mourn on their own, isn't it?
Mar. 28th, 2005 10:56 am (UTC)
That's what it was like at my Grandma Mac's funeral as well. My uncle's two daughters are about ten to fifteen years older than my brother and me, so they remembered my grandma when she was much younger and fitter and more alert, and my aunt and her kids lived nearby and so saw her much, much more often than my brothers and me. So it felt like we were the only ones around making inappropriate jokes and having a nice day, whilst everyone else was seriously grieving.

But then, I didn't feel too bad because I know that nothing would make my grandma happier than to see her family and friends all getting together and enjoying each other's company and so on. So - yeah. I don't know. I know the feeling, though: striking the right note of solemnity at a funeral is always a weird and tricky feeling.
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 28th, 2005 10:39 am (UTC)
Heh, I laughed quite a bit at him just before the service actually began, so perhaps I got most of it out of my system. I just tried not to look at him once proceedings were underway...
Mar. 28th, 2005 10:48 am (UTC)
I don't think it's disrespectful at all. Funerals are dreadful events, and everyone is going to feel the loss and the grief that goes with it. But if the entire time is focussed only on that, rather than on togetherness remembering good times in the past, and enjoying what is still left, I think that's a loss in itself. I treasure the memories of my grandmother's funeral, for the good and happy parts, as well as the sad.

I hate to think what your mountain of work must look like, with the unexpected time out. I hope you're getting through it.
Mar. 28th, 2005 12:35 pm (UTC)
Honestly, we had such wonderful times at Mum's funeral with seeing family we hadn't seen for ages, and showing off the babies to people who've known my sister and me since we were babies. The awful awfulness of it was the moments where I slipeed into thinking it was just another family gathering and looked round for Mum. But, really, Mum would've loved it. If P's grandmother would have enjoyed the day, then it was the right funeral for her, perhaps?

Also, I think you get fitness practice with your own kids as they grow into being 3-year-olds. I certainly have arm muscles I didn't have when Naomi was a newborn.
Mar. 28th, 2005 02:39 pm (UTC)
The awful awfulness of it was the moments where I slipeed into thinking it was just another family gathering and looked round for Mum.

I could see that happening to P's mother - the forgetting and then the remembering, and it just hurt to look at her then. But yes, I think P's grandmother would have approved - all of her family in one place, all remembering how much they loved her. It was good.
Mar. 28th, 2005 12:43 pm (UTC)
A sad event, but such a wonderful story. I suppose it's very shallow of me to admit I read it twice just for the enjoyment of it.
Mar. 28th, 2005 02:37 pm (UTC)
Awwww, thank you! I only wish I could have taken a photo of the Pop Up baby Jesus statue to illustrate it.
Mar. 28th, 2005 12:45 pm (UTC)
One of the things which makes me identify more as a Cultural Catholic these days is that Irish Catholic Funerals, at their best, can be fun, as well as being healing. A proper funeral has plenty of good and happy moments as well as grieving, and it brings people together (sometimes to a bizarre degree - I got offered two jobs at my Granny's funeral). I like that fact that Irish people take funerals seriously, and go to them en masse, even if they only know one of the bereaved people, and not actually the deceased.
Mar. 28th, 2005 04:05 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you found some humor in the midst of the sadness. And I'm sorry for your and Patsington's loss.

The pop-up Jesus statue is too, too funny.
Mar. 29th, 2005 09:49 am (UTC)
Just catching up, and very sorry to hear about P's gran - do pass on my condolences. And seconding what everyone else has said about funerals having the potential, at least, to be happy as well as sad occasions.
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )


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