This weekend we hosted an extended family of ten as they attended the funeral of a much loved mother, nan and grandma.
At first it seemed strange that they would choose a glamping hideaway for a funeral but then why would it be strange? Families choose glamping all the time for weddings, engagements and honeymoons, so why not funerals?
It’s possible (more likely probable) that they may have chosen other accommodation if it weren’t for the fact that everything was already booked owing to a busy weekend in town at the races.
The more I thought about their choice of our glamping and B&B accommodation, it did not seem so strange. When I met the family, who had travelled from all over New Zealand and those that came in from Australia, the more fitting it seemed to me that a private holiday destination designed for families was truly appropriate for celebrating being together and for acknowledging the passing of someone so special in their lives.
Each of them had a story or a vignette to share about a truly strong woman who had passed at 94, and was clearly had brought a lot of joy to them all. As I observed them talking and laughing and enjoying each other’s company as I cooked a meal for them in the background, it impressed upon me how special family get togethers are for funerals.
I had always been of the opinion that it was far more important to visit the person while they were alive not come together after they were dead. I reached this view when my own mother died of cancer some 16 years ago and one of her cousins whom I had not seen since I was a toddler (I was 37 when my mother died) came to her funeral. Perhaps I was just bitter with grief which made me so uncharitable. As I look back, it was a day I’ll never forget, every detail minute by minute seems to be etched indelibly in my memory. I still draw comfort from the fact that all of the family who could make it were there, sharing a memory over a sherry, or the smell of the flowers of the coffin spray.
As the glamping family conversed, it was clear that they were all very close. They laughed and joked, they talked, ate and drank and just enjoyed being together. There was no angst between them. The brother and sister who had lost their mother, the adult children of both siblings and their children, were happy to see one another, give each other comfort and recount stories of a much loved parent, grandparent and great-grandparent. Having learnt to swim at 11, for example, she had gone on to hold a number of New Zealand records in her later years and to celebrate her 80th birthday had swum 80 laps of the local swimming pool.
I hope that the lady who died realized what a wonderful legacy she had left in a family who truly cared about each other. She even touched my life in a way as I saw such a lovely family, three generations, and their extended relatives truly delight in being together. That’s what makes holidays and celebrations so special – family and being together. So, it was not strange after all that they should choose us – we were just another accommodation provider but because of our capacity to host 10 and their desire to be together so they could just be themselves in a relaxed situation it felt right for them and us.
It was a real privilege to host them.