Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Funeral in Santa Pola

David Collins died this week. He was cremated today in the Santa Pola Tanatorio. We went along as old friends.

David used to live in Pinoso though he's lived in Catral for years now. I think, because I gave him a hand with his computer, he suggested me as a possible worker to his daughter Julie. At the time she ran a furniture shop called RusticOriginal. I ended up working there and it remains my favourite job of those I've had here in Spain.

It's the first time I've been inside a tanatorio in Spain - the translation in most dictionaries is funeral parlour but a good number of them seem to have the facilities of a crematorium too. I've never quite worked out the system for Spanish funerals and cremations and I decided against doing the research and describing it here. I get the idea though that the tanatorio is where close family stand vigil as it were and receive other family members, friends and colleagues. Someone in Cartagena told me that they often used the bar in the local tanatorio for a late night drink as it is always open.

When we turned up in Santa Pola today I noticed that another family were camped out in one of the side rooms off the main entrance of the building. Some of David's golfing pals were there before us and together we waited. The family turned up at the appointed hour in one of the undertaker's limos. They came with a couple of Spanish friends of David's who had helped the family make all the arrangements for the cremation and the transfer of the ashes back to the UK.

Together we all went into a chapel with David's sealed coffin on a trolley. Two of David's daughters, Julie and Tracy, looked after the proceedings. They arranged some photos on and around the coffin and there were a couple of David's favourite songs on CD. Jules and Tracy read their own tributes and a piece from the other two daughters, who were not able to be there because they live in South Africa and New Zealand. There was no "official" input either lay or religious and I wondered if that were the normal routine at a tanatorio. I have this vague idea that in more routine funerals the priest conducts a service before the body is moved on to the tanatorio but doesn't officiate after that. I could well be wrong though.

With the talking over, a chap, in a blue work coat, wheeled the coffin away. A few moments later we were called to join him. The coffin was now behind a glass screen and the lid was lifted so that we could see David for one last time. The second of David's two songs was given a reprise as the coffin was sealed and then set on an apparatus which slid the casket into the furnace.

I wondered if the last look and such a close up view of the final act had a history behind it as though to prove that there was no last minute skulduggery.

And that was it. Goodbye for ever to David. A little discussion about the paperwork and the choice of urn for the ashes before the family went off in the waiting car.

We went off to have a coffee and stare at the Med.

No comments: