Saturday, 31 May 2008

A Tender Farewell

At the corner of the now decimated Golspie Street a young man, wearing a dark suit, crisp white shirt and dark tie looks intently at his mother who is issuing earnest instructions. He is nodding his head of dark wavy hair and reassuring her as she reassures him. In his hand is a white envelope. The woman is standing in front of him and gripping both his arms. He seems anxious to take his leave and finally he breaks away and she pats his back as he sets off briskly walking along Govan Road. Going for a job interview? Unlikely. Court appearance? Perhaps.

A mass of people emerges from St. Anthony's as I approach. Lying on the pavement is a floral tribute in white and yellow flowers that reads DAD and inside the hearse is another in gold and white, trimmed with greenery that says GRANDA.
So, the boy in the suit is going to a funeral . . . but no. He has hurried past and continues down to the cross.

The family is outside now and clinging to each other, crying quietly as the coffin is laid in the hearse. The pavements are full of people. Even on the other side of the road, a crowd has congregated to wait and pay respect.
From the corner of McKechnie Street, I look at St. Anthony's. The charming Byzantine edifice of honeyed stone is weathered and worn. It wouldn't be out of place on a verdant Italian hillside.
The immediate family and close friends are seated in cars and the remaining mourners are catching up with those they haven't seen for a while, sharing news and asking after each other.

Then the funeral director, in black top hat and tail coat, takes his place before the hearse. He walks with dignity, leading the cortege along Govan Road. Shoppers and passers-by stop and wait, some make the sign of the cross, all set aside their duties for a moment as death imposes its rites over us all. And now the director stops and bows before the deceased and they continue the slow sad recession to the grave.

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