One Inions’ Opinion: Maybe technology ain’t so bad after all

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 22, 2023

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About 50 people gathered in a small funeral home in a town about 50 miles northwest of London called Milton Keynes on Tuesday. It was noon their time.

Among the crowd were my distant (geographically) cousins, who paid tribute to our beloved Auntie Karen as she was laid to rest.

From my little apartment in downtown Salisbury, I sat in a darkened room, hunched over my laptop, as the early morning light began to peek through the blinds.

I watched as they brought my aunt’s casket to the front, followed by my widowed godfather, Uncle Graham. Beside Graham were my sweet cousins, Jess and Elliot, the two children forced today to say goodbye to their dearest Mum.

Other cousins and aunts were there too.

My wife had already left for work, so I sat alone, but something in that moment afforded me peace. At their home in Shallotte, my mother and father tuned in as well. My brother, another North Carolina resident, was also streaming it.

The speaker who opened the ceremony greeted the present visitors and then similarly greeted all those “watching remotely.”

I’m so grateful that we live in an age where that greeting is possible. When my father moved to the United States in the late 1980s, such a feat would have seemed only feasible in a science-fiction flick.

The following 20 minutes were filled with occasional funeral laughs, gestures that seem hard to conjure on their faces. Yet, anyone who has ever attended a funeral knows the deceased would have wanted the laughter.

Laughs served as refreshing intermediaries for the tales that painted the picture of Karen, the person she was and the impact she had on so many. Her wholesome demeanor left everyone who ever met her better off for it.

I listened intently as Jess volunteered a touching moment she and her mother had in the hospital. Even in her weary state, Karen found the words to make her daughter smile. Elliot followed, reading a poem about his mother’s garden and the legacy she would leave behind before sharing a fulfilled promise he made to Karen.

I don’t know how many people were tuned in for the ceremony since my family has done a remarkable job settling around the globe. What I do know is that thanks to the technology people so often grumble about, I got to participate in a beautiful send-off for a magnificent member of the family.

When they played Dolly Parton’s “Coat of Many Colors,” I cried thinking about my Aunt Karen gleefully singing along to the words in her living room.

When Elliot rightfully asked how he was supposed to follow Jess’ eulogy, I laughed, knowing he was spot on.

And when they all stood in Karen’s honor as she was taken out of the room, I joined in from my little apartment in downtown Salisbury.

I know emails, Facebook and buffering Netflix specials can sometimes feel like the bane of our existence, but on Tuesday, I was glad we have the technology to make that family memory possible.

Maybe technology ain’t so bad after all, but hey, that’s just one Inions’ opinion.