‘I’m really starting to think there might be some truth in the whole God thing…’ Careful not to bang my head, I reached down to fetch umbrellas from the under carriage of the hearse. One by one, I reached up and handed them to Macca who struggled to see clearly through his spectacles dotted with raindrops.
‘What ya mean, love?’ his bushy eyebrows furrowed as he peered up at the sky.
‘Well, these Nuns, the Sisters…’ I met with him at eye level and closed the side door of the hearse. Together we wandered through the headstones towards the open grave. ‘There must be truth in what they spend their life preaching, believing. They all live for a century! Bloody hell, Joan was one hundred and one!’ I pointed to the glossy coffin hovering above the Earth on the lowering device, the crimson roses bright against the backdrop of stormy sky. Inside the coffin, Joan rested peacefully in her veil, her lifeless hands clasping rosary beads. The Sisters arrived in pairs, with crosses around their necks and glowing in the cheeks as they sang hymns, waiting for us, the funeral directors, to lower their dear friend into the ground. ‘God has nothing to do with it, love,’ Macca chuckled under his breath as we approached the Holy crowd with umbrellas. ‘They don’t marry, they don’t have kids, they’re bloody geniuses I tell ya!’ Swallowing my laughter I handed an umbrella to an elderly Sister, trembling with arthritis but able to raise her hand to squeeze my cheek. ‘God’s child,’ she gleamed, her big, blue eyes sparkling.
The Sisters singing together as one is a sound that not even Shakespeare could capture in words. In harmony, they correspond to the heavens and rattling my bones, goose bumps take over my body every single time. Macca and I stood side by side on the grave’s edge, waiting for the last of the family to arrive. I felt my eighty dollar Chanel lipstick weeping with the skies as water pelted down from above. Safe underneath the canopy provided by the cemetery staff, the Sisters sang at the top of their lungs as the rain battered down upon the hundreds of headstones around us. Regardless that my makeup was flooding down my face and into my cleavage, watching these elderly women who have spent their lives serving God and travelling the world, I felt incredibly blessed.
I peered to my right, and could see that maybe, Macca wasn’t seeing the beauty in it all as he flicked water from his moustache, his tiny round spectacles fogging. I was so hard not to laugh.
‘Oh, Look! A rainbow!’ a Sister announced from beneath the canopy. We all looked up to find a charismatic stream of colours blasting across the sky and the rain suddenly began to ease.
As the sun managed to break through the clouds, the final car pulled into the cemetery and a man in an Akubra hat joined us graveside holding an acoustic guitar. He attached a microphone to the collar of his flannelette shirt and began to play.
I recognised the singer, he was famous, I was sure of it!
Concluding my brain was saturated, I shook the thought from my mind and held out the basket of rose petals to the queue of loved ones who wished to release them onto the coffin.
‘I am…you are…we are Australian…’
The guitar player sang the iconic Australian song as the Sisters took the petals from my hand, releasing them onto the breeze, the colours spiraling and landing on the coffin as it slowly lowered into the ground.
On the final strum of the guitar, the service concluded, and the singer ducked back to his car and took off.
‘You know that guy is famous, hey,’ Macca whispered, nudging me.
‘I thought so!’ I screeched as a Sister appeared behind me.
‘Yes, dear, Joan was his Aunty. That crazy Lass, I tell ya! She was a wild one! The many times I had to save her from falling into a campfire on those bush parties on the farm! That is where he wrote his first song, and Joan helped him write his work.’
‘Back to what I what I was saying,’ Mack cocked his head like he was a rooster, fluffing his feathers.
‘They have the best lives. They just don’t tell anyone about it.’