Operator: 911, what is your emergency?
Caller: I need an organist!
So it was Tuesday of this past week, that I actually received a text AND an email message with the title, “SUBBING EMERGENCY,” from John Renke at St. Andrew’s Cathedral who needed an organist to play a funeral. Brian McCarthy, the Organ Scholar who was slated to play the service, got word from his commanding officer that he would not be available after all.
The message took me back to the days when I would occasionally get a “911” on my pager, meaning that an organist hadn’t shown up to play for a Japanese wedding, and one was needed as soon as possible (ASAP!) — within fifteen minutes or less!
I went back to read our 1995 Christmas letter about this account:
There was one morning at 9:55 am, when Kathy was sitting at home in her shorts and an urgent call came in.
“There’s a wedding at 10:00 and we need an organist!”
“But I can’t possibly get there by 10:00 since I live on the other side of the island!”
“We’ll wait for you!”
Throwing on a mu‘umu‘u (the uniform of choice since organists and singers get their pictures taken with the bride and groom and frequently act as witnesses), and driving 70 mph over the Pali Highway, Kathy passed two police cars who had stopped to give two unlucky motorists speeding tickets. She got to the church at 10:20.
Another time, she was in the bank and got a page: “Kathy, where are you? Can you go to St. Augustine’s for a wedding that was to have started ten minutes ago? They have no organist!”
As it turns out, I did play for the funeral at St. Andrew’s Cathedral yesterday, but spent most of the 2-1/2 hour-long service sitting on the bench and listening to eulogies drag on and on — over an hour or more! The woman who died was 97 years old, and after about half an hour in, I looked at my phone to check the time. The son who was delivering the first eulogy was up to only recalling events which happened in 1956! Three other grandchildren also spoke at length. It made me appreciate the beautiful (and brief in comparison!) funeral mass we had for Carl Crosier. (Read about it here.)
I went home to look up the word “eulogy” and found out that “according to the Order of Christian Funerals, there is never to be a eulogy at a funeral Mass, although the celebrant may express a few words of gratitude about the person’s life in his homily, or he may allowing a relative or a friend to say a few words about the deceased during the concluding rite. The remarks must be brief and under no circumstances can the deceased person be referred to as being in heaven. Only the Church has the authority to canonize.”
This morning I was at St. Theresa’s for a special Memorial Mass for all parishioners who had died in the past year.
We were invited to bring a framed photo of our loved one to the front of the nave, which Father Greg blessed with incense. He also read the names of the deceased while the church bells were rung.
It was the first time I had been back at St. Theresa’s for a service since Carl’s funeral and I was immediately struck by the realization that the two hundred or so people there had all recently lost special loved ones.
While we were all united in our grief, we were reminded that our loved ones are experiencing the absolute joy of heaven, and some day we will be reunited with them.