I went to a funeral today

Alan RodgerThat’s not that unusual and you’d maybe expect that at my age I’d be going to rather a few. However that’s not the case and I’ve only been to two or three a year in recent years; but with this one being in January maybe it’s setting me up for an bumper year.

By definitions funerals are sad but they don’t have to be gloomy and this one wasn’t. It was a Humanist funeral with some good choices of music and a few positive and uplifting speeches. It reflected the life and character of Alan Rodger who’d recently died and gave us plenty of opportunities to smile.

I’ve known Alan since the mid 2000s when he was chair of governors at Impington Village College. He stayed on as a governor when he stepped down as chair and then he and I became trustees at the Morris Education Trust. Throughout this time I was impressed by his intelligence and humour and his ability to work with others. He was the ultimate team player.

Alan was also an immensely hard worker and prepared himself diligently for meetings. I always reckon that if I did this half as well as Alan I’d have done it twice as well as I did.

And perhaps surprisingly Alan was a radical and a free thinker, an iconoclast, and he was never afraid of change. But because he was such a good team player he never rocked the boat and was very effective in enabling necessary change to happen.

Alan was Scottish and like most Scots immensely proud of his heritage. That’s probably why his funeral began with Flower of Scotland (memo to self: I need to specify Mae Hen Wlad fy Nhadau for my funeral).

The service kept us all engaged. There were speeches and music and a Humanist Celebrant to keep the show moving. That was the feature I liked least. The Celebrant was an outsider and knew nothing of Alan. For me it would have been been better if this role could have been filled by someone who could relate better to the substance of the service. But that’s a minor point. We were soon out with time to offer individual condolences to the family and to make our way to the wake.

The service ended when the Celebrant discretely pressed a button on the lectern and a curtain was drawn around the coffin. Then the undertaker walked to the front and led us all out and as he did so he caught my eye, I know him from my presence in the community, as if to remind me that I need to have some plans in place for my day when it comes around.

I won’t get over maudlin about this but my experience of last summer can’t be ignored. I still intend to live until I’m 90 but in the meantime I’ll think about plan B just in case I don’t.

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