Thursday, October 3, 2013

Ou sont les Wreaths of Yesteryear?

The other day I was watching a black-and-white movie (okay, confess, it was “Now, Voyager” yet again) . The domineering matriarch, bossy even in her wheelchair, collapses during an argument with daughter Bette Davis.  We are spared any further unpleasantness; the next shot is of a wreath on the mansion’s front door.

     Every 1940s moviegoer gets the message.  Not only does that wreath signify a death in the family, it serves as an invitation to those who want to pay their respects by viewing the body.  “It’s here,” is the message, “She’s lying in state here in the drawing room.”
     I assume it was a black wreath but maybe that’s just because the movie wasn’t in color.  Specific flowers could bave been chosen for their significance.  But what I’m wondering is – when was the last time I saw a funeral door wreath?  The last time anyone did?  Because I do remember them from my childhood.  I even remember some confusion when I first noticed a Christmas wreath on a doorway – oops, wait a minute, there’s a red ribbon so I guess it doesn’t mean someone died.
      You almost never notice the last time you do something.  You notice the first robin in spring but not the last one in fall.  I remember thinking this once when I was rocking an infant grandson to sleep – and that time I had it right, for the rocking chair is 3,000 miles away now and the grandson is out of college.   

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