The interior of funeral homes generally look tacky to me. I have yet to experience one that is totally tasteful (in my opinion), although I will say one of the wakes I attended last week was in a lovely old Victorian house which had been redone true to the period, complete with knickknacks in the wooden book cases of the former livingroom where the departed was laid out. But generally, fake ionic columns, creepy torchiere floor lamps and maroon velvet are serious cheese. What’s with all the maroon velvet? Who designated heavy velvet upholstery and drapes as the official decor in the Waiting Room Before the Final Destination? As if the situation is not depressing enough. During the in-between time when not giving condolences or socializing but just sitting there reverently for a respectable amount of time, I tend to look around at the decor.
What I noticed during the last three wakes I attended was that the artwork on the walls of the first funeral parlor had paintings of Botticelli type angels in ornate frames. The second one had pictures that depicted little blonde children praying and rosy-cheeked angels waiting to escort the deceased to their heavenly rewards. The first two people waked had been white. For the third wake, the person was black. Subsequently, the third funeral home viewing room was decorated with peaceful paintings of little brown children waiting by the river to be baptised and families in prayer. The angels in the paintings were also brown. Of course, this makes perfect sense, but it got me thinking about the color of angels.
I have met a few people who I am sure were angels in disguise. I think they walk among us and no two are the same. And when a new baby comes into the world, it is almost as if they have just shed their wings moments before arrival. But the classic, ethereal depiction of angels – who is to say what the color of angels really is? I would like to think maybe the angels, with wings of iridescence, are sort of a transparent gold, and glittery silver…and blue. A universal, Everyman’s angel. I love that Krishna is blue. A manifestation of the sky and the ocean, a color of depth, purity and calmness. As I sat there, inhaling the scent of refrigerated lilies, I thought if you are going to assign a color to something like an angel, which is a presence that you feel, shouldn’t it be the serenity of blue?