This time of year is dangerous - Christmas trees burn, electric decorations can develope shorts and people decorate with candles. And many of us light our menorahs with candles or oil,and those who celebrate Kwanzaa have their lights, and I think lights are used for Yule as well, right?
My husband's cousin was in a different room when her fire started. It wasn't a tree or decorations, of course, because she's Jewish, and we're not lighting menorahs until the evening of the 25th and we don't anticipate. But it was a candle on her mantel piece, and it probably ignited a chair. The fire department arrived within 3 minutes of her calling them, and they found her unconscious, and couldn't revive her. She'd inhaled 2000 degree air and they say it was fast and she didn't suffer. I hope so.
They say the fire had probably burned for 20-30 minutes before she knew about it, which is why it got so hot. So. Be careful and take care of those smoke alarms.
The funeral itself was - she had many, many, many friends and was close to her family. The funeral chapel was packed. She'd been a teacher that her students remembered and spoke about afterwards, and even after she'd retired, she taught adult literacy. She was also active in, well, everything - three book clubs, Master Gardening Club, folk dancing. And then there were her grandsons and her boyfriend. She was in good health too, plus her mother died only 5 years ago at the age of 101. She had all the prospects of living at least that long herself.
The rabbi was her daughter's - a woman with a lovely voice and a soothing manner. The rabbi, I mean, although that could also describe Nancy.
Getting to the cemetery was...interesting. We rode with my inlaws as part of the procession, but. Um. See, the rules of lights and so on don't apply to funeral procession, marked with headlights and the hearse and the limo. The cars just follow in a line, no matter what.
Unless a taxi butts in. And then there's a light, and the taxi has to obey the lights, so the procession has to stop, and a few dozen cars get between the two parts. And we were on our own, more or less, although the funeral home did give us directions.
And I read the wrong ones, but that only figured in the end. (And, yes, once again. Dad who is in his eighties and can't hear and is having slight memory problems drove. My mother-in-law, who can't see, was shouting directions, as was my husband in the backseat, who can't drive. I could see and hear and drive, but had to shout because Mom was panicking because she couldn't read the road signs because of her poor vision, and Jonathan was panicking because the sun visor was blocking *his* vision. I could see just fine (as could Dad) and was reading the signs for Mom's benefit, and then Jonathan shoved the directions at me. I ascertained which cemetery, but he didn't hear or heard wrong, and so at the very end, we turned left rather than right. This was quickly rectified.)
We beat the hearse to the cemetery. Eventually, everyone caught up and we got back in our cars and drove and then waited and then finally drove some more - out of the cemetery, onto a highway and then into the "new cemetery" and then around and around circles.
There were about a dozen cars and no trouble having a minyan by anyone's definition. We all took turns shoveling in dirt (horrible sound, that), with her son and two other men doing most of the work until the top of the casket was completely covered with several inches. Her grandson made his own speech and then the rabbi took over. It was a standard funeral service.
We decided not to go to New Jersey to her sister's house, although I will drop by her daughter's on Wednesday when she sits there. The trip would be too long and my ankle was hurting, so just as well.
And the family Chanukah party is still up in the air as we deal with this shock.