Jonathan's great-uncle Malcolm died today. I'm not sure how old he was, but he was the last of a very large family, where he was the second youngest and the only son. Yes, they tried for a son - this was the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, when such things were done. They had nine children. None are left now. I met Jonathan three weeks after his grandmother passed away.
I can't say I knew Uncle Malcolm well, but it has to be a hard thing to be last, to bury all your sisters one by one - especially for a Kohain, a member of the priestly caste. The only funerals they are permitted to attend are those of close relatives - parents, wives, siblings and children. At best, they can stand a good distance away from the grave. One of my strongest memories of Jonathan's family funerals is seeing three or four men standing in a line in the road as far from graves as they can go. I have friends who, because their close relatives are, thank God, all alive, have never been to a funeral or a cemetery, and funeral parlors will have special areas just for them, with loudspeakers.
My goodness. Malcolm's son. He's going to take part in this funeral, be part of the minyan, help to bury - things he's never, ever done before. He's not religious, but he takes his caste seriously.