Sunday, January 29, 2023

Good Idea, Once Upon a Time

The final portion of the house tour was viewing the partially finished basement. Upon entering a room with finished walls and an uncovered concrete floor, the console television, turntable, and AM-FM stereo radio combination captured my attention. The person giving the tour of the parsonage stated that the unit has not worked for years. Due to it being a gift from a family in memory of a loved one, no one dared to dispose of it. The tour occurred in 1981. I wonder if the unit is still in the basement?

Memorials, those gifts given to organizations in order to secure a loved ones name will be recorded somewhere. While I could not find the origins of memorial gifts on an internet search, I decided to seek another source. A mortician friend reinforced my suspicion that memorials began as a way to assist a family during the transition following a death. Maybe the monies helped pay for the funeral expenses? Maybe the cash provided a small cushion for the family if the deceased was the primary income provider? This was a practical and helpful gesture necessary to care for others in a concrete way. 

During the Annual Meeting at Hillsboro United Parish, I wondered about the longevity of the Memorial Committee. Fewer funerals are conducted in the church. The nature of ceremonies at the end of life are changing. These insights were shared with the aforementioned funeral director. I was told that the idea of memorials continues to haunt families. Once discussion of a service or gathering begins there comes a time when the family asks, "What about memorials?" It is now an expectation that monetary gifts are a part of

death rituals. Looking at various obituaries many included the phrases, "in lieu of flowers" or "memorials can be given to." It appears that what was once a expression of kindness and support has turned into an expectation. One obituary stated that memorials could be designated to the church's elevator fund. My thoughts are if an organization believes something is important enough to have or maintain, why is there an ongoing fund? Is a brass name plate going to be placed in or near the elevator recognizing the deceased? 

As in many things, what was once a good idea has served its purpose. Most people no longer need help with funeral expenses. Other societal safety nets assist with maintaining income during a transition period. I believe there are many needs in our society. I am not opposed to providing financial support to organizations I find meaningful. I also choose not to wait for someone to die in order to make a contribution. The beverage

services which can still be found in many congregations rarely get used. Weddings and anniversaries are held in other venues. Being served by someone else is rare in a self-service society. Many people bring their own beverages to various events. No one tells the story of the person whose name may adorn the platter, if anyone even remembers that person. Yet like the behemoth piece of entertainment furniture in the parsonage basement it cannot be discarded because of an unknown memory associated with it.

I would appreciate your insights and feedback on this topic. You can leave comments on this site. Or go back to the Facebook page and add a comment. 

I will be taking a couple of weeks away from blogging. I plan to post again on February 26th.Thank you for reading and responding!

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