Mangetout requested that I tell about the Viking funeral I went to a couple of years ago, so I’m happy to oblige.
The husband of one of Papa Tiger’s coworkers passed away quite unexpectedly, but he had been ill for some years and had previously expressed a wish for a Viking funeral, so the family was happy to oblige. They had it at a relative’s place on the water in southern Maryland, and a number of the higher-ups from their company drove the two hours down from DC for the event.
John had been cremated first, so they put his ashes in a special small boat they’d built, and each family member stepped up and put a special object or a note in the boat, describing what it was they were putting in and why. It was really very touching.
Then they piled the boat with kindling, towed it out away from shore, and set it alight. And we stood on the shore and watched it burn.
It was a very solemn moment.
And then…the wind and the current started blowing the boat. Back towards the shore. Back towards the large, VERY dry stand of reeds on the shore. The boat was burning VERY well, and flames were licking closer and closer the reeds, and all we could do was just stand there watching. And trying really, REALLY hard not to laugh. I mean, it was supposed to be a serious event – the man had just DIED, for heaven’s sake; it was a FUNERAL, for heaven’s sake – but they were about to set fire to the whole property!
Finally a couple of the guys leapt into a rowboat, dashed out, and started dumping water onto the Viking boat to put the flames out. Just before it reached the reeds. Nobody said a word the entire time, just stood there trying to keep a straight face. I think even the family was struggling not to die laughing at that point.
And then they took the rest of John’s ashes and buried them under an apple tree they were planting, which was once again very sweet and touching. But those few minutes standing there watching the flames reaching towards the dry reeds have to count as some of the longest minutes of my life. I wonder if John was trying to tell them something?
So that’s the one and only Viking funeral I attended. Definitely the most unique funeral I’ve been to. Hopefully it will maintain that record; I don’t want to ever have to struggle that hard not to laugh at a funeral again!