Funeral for a Friend


Some news to share. Recently, my mother passed. 

Almina “Dede” Jo Schiraldi of Cedar Park, TX, passed away on February 4, 2021. She was born on August 26, 1930 in Brooklyn, New York.

Mom loved to read and loved animals. She was a roller skater and loved dancing on wheels. She later took up the practice of Tai Chi and loved the meditative movement and grace of its practice. A loving mother to her two children, Ellen and Carol, she enjoyed being a homemaker and loved to cook. She was a kind, colorful spirit who will be remembered by all who knew her.

Mom was a frequent guest at my art shows and often helped me with the task of editing my work, sometimes selecting work she thought would go well in a particular location. Though not a photographer herself, she often looked over my work and over the years became quite articulate about my images and the craft of image making in general. She will be missed. This is her with my sister as photographed by my Dad.

Her full obituary can be found here:

The past week or so has been busy times with the funeral services and the funeral itself. I’ve been visiting with Dad as much as possible, in order to help him get squared away with things that he needs to do. He is also elderly and needs help from time to time on a good day. 

 An interesting thing about Mom was that, especially in recent years, she had become quite a friend to me. I used to sometimes call her up to chat, we’d talk about all kinds of things, sometimes gossip, sometimes old stories that she remembered, or she would share cooking tips and the like. I had grown to really enjoy our little talks. Even more recently, when she was in the nursing facility, I would call her up in the daytime just to have a quick chat. There’s always a lot of memories, especially for a parent when you are close, but I think it’s the little chats I will miss the most. 

The burial was earlier this week, on Wednesday. Texas had been ravaged by recent winter storms and so we had to reschedule her services three times. As luck would have it, Wednesday was an absolutely beautiful day. It was about 72 and sunny. Mom is buried in the Veteran’s cemetery up in Kileen, Texas. It’s a beautiful spot, up on a hill overlooking the Texas landscape. It was a slightly windy day with “photographer’s clouds,” the kind of clouds that add definition to the sky but don’t really subtract any light-not gloomy anyway, just puffy clouds in the sky. Dad and I drove up there together and said our goodbyes. 

I had been very busy in the time leading up to the services. Since Dad is elderly and my Sister is far away, I wound up making most of the arrangements. There is a lot to do when you get involved in these sorts of things. The funeral home we used is right nearby, which made running up there a lot easier. I had taken almost a full day there at one point, in order to make a lot of the arrangements. I had to fill in a lot of paperwork and pick things like flower sprays, cards, guest books, and the like. 

When I picked the casket, I wasn’t sure. They brought me into this room with several on display. The first one that jumped out at me was purple! It wasn’t like a bright purple, it was more like a “dusty orchid” (pinkish purple really.) Now, Mom always was a colorful person so I gravitated right to this dusty pinky purplish casket. I picked out the purple casket with a bright spray of flowers that had a bunch of reds and purples in them. I thought it would all look good together. As I was turning to leave, I got this sudden thought. What if my family thinks I made her look like a prostitute? Is there such a thing as a “prostitute’s casket” and, if so, did I just pick one out? Whoa boy! What a thought, right? Crazy!

Luckily, my family is a bit understanding. My Dad was like, “you are an artist. You pick things and they will look good together. I don’t know what to pick.” 

I had to call my Sister, because I didn’t want to just randomly text her a picture of a casket. Somehow, I thought that would not be cool. I mean, the Internet is pretty vast and things but still, getting texted a casket in the middle of the day is a bit odd even given the state of things these days. Instead, I texted her and told her I was going to send out a picture of it, which I then did. My Sister was like, “Mom would have loved it!” Thankfully, she thought it appropriate too.

Turns out we all sort of liked the purple casket. I was actually quite happy the way things turned out. Well, when I say, “happy,” I do mean given the circumstances. I’d much rather have her here with us but, given the situation, the purple casket was not half bad. 

I actually thought the funeral came together quite well. Except for the weather and the wild winter storm that would not quit, forcing us to reschedule three times, everything went off without a hitch. Phew! Mom would have liked it, I think. At least, I feel like I can honestly say we did right by her and everything worked in the end. 

There is an online guest book if you follow the link, you can sign if you are so inclined. Mom was a fan of animals so we are asking for donations to the animal shelter rather than flowers, although I have received a few flowers and have enjoyed photographing them. I find it oddly comforting but, then again, photography has always been a coping mechanism for me (of sorts.) It’s relaxing for me anyway so I’m enjoying playing around with the flowers.

Well, that’s Mom. Purple casket, wild flowers, hilltop, ballroom dancing on roller skates, and soon to be flower pictures. All of that and we miss her so! Time to rest, Mom, time to rest.

Until next time…

PS This image was actually taken by my Dad at my aunt’s home in Queens, New York. If I had to guess, circa 1965. 

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