We spent the morning packing laundry and my computer and, well, stuff. I wrote a note for our landlady, and took it downstairs, and while I was there, I noticed that there was a limosine out there. I told the driver, "Joe", that we were getting ready and would be down as soon as we could. Got things together and lights off and doors locked and pretty much filled the trunk.
And then it turned out the driver had not been told to pick up my brother-in-law and his family. We got that straightened up, got them, and got to the chapel. We were among the first. My mother-in-law, my sister-in-law and her daughter were to arrive by themselves by cab. And the people poured in. My mother, my stepfather, my brother, his cousins, friends, friends from OUR shul - more and more and more. I got hugged and hugged. The rabbi showed up, and the cantor, and finally mom and Laurie and Verly.
The chapel was *full*. Standing room only, in fact. And while there some relatives and some friends of ours, most of all, it was friends from their synagogues here and in the country.
Because, you see, my father-in-law was loved for the sweet, humble, gentle person that he was, and everyone wanted to show him honor and respect. There were even former trumpet students there - he taught for many years at the High School of Music and Art.
My mother-in-law spoke - his last words to her were, "I adore you." It was a 46 year old love affair.
Then my brother and brother-in-law spoke, things of the heart for their father.
Then the rabbi, who knew him only for a few years but knew what sort of a man he was, and then the cantor was called to sing a prayer, but he spoke first. And this man never speaks in public. He sings - he's a Jewish folksinger as well as a cantor - but he doesn't speak much. He spoke. He spoke of my father-in-law learning to lein (read the Torah outloud) and lead services in his late sixties, and how he was as a pupil.
We all cried, I believe.
We reconfigured the limo - brother-in-law's wife took the little girls to my mil's house, brother-in-law rode the hearse, and Mom, sister-in-law, niece, us and mom's rolling walker took the limo. Walker rode shotgun next to the driver - no room in the trunk.
And that drive - my goodness. Over two hours for a trip that should have lasted only one. There was rain and there was traffic and it was terrible. I fell asleep part of the way. Once we arrived,after the necessary paperwork and such, we went to the burial site.
Of course, we said the requisite prayers - and we'd made sure we had minyan, including a young man I've known since he was a year old and who had never met my father-in-law. It was only his second funeral ever.
In Orthodox funerals, we prefer as much as possible to bury the coffin ourselves. If there are only a few people, we bury the box. If there are a lot, we fill the grave. We filled the grave. The rabbi, a relatively young man, did a huge amount, as did a friend of my mother-in-law's, and our friend zsero and the young man I mentioned before. And the rain let up enough that we could do it. We said Kaddish and formed the two lines for the mourners to walk between and then we returned to my mil's apartment - another very long limo line. This time, my brother-in-law joined us.