sixtiestosixties

I was something in the 60s but now I'm just sixty something.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Funeral

on September 20, 2012

Laughing all the way.

” Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh.”

~ George Bernard Shaw

Now that I have made it to the other side of a cluster of funerals, I can draw a deep breath, dry my eyes, and see that people plan funerals with the same personal flair they plan any other event in their life. For example, my mother-in-law’s idea of a dinner party was to serve cocktails made of lemonade and cheap whiskey and boil up some meat. I never could understand this bland streak in her as she was a very talented artist and knew how to put verve in a painting. Never the less, she buried her dearly departed husband in a nice shade of beige. His face so matched his jacket I had to do a double take to see if he had been dressed at all. Her plan was to give him the same type of Catholic service she took comfort in her whole life. A mass with the right prayers, the right eulogy, the right decorum… the right rites. Something in perfect control. What she did not plan on was the homeless man who wandered in out of the rain, sat right next to the family, and began to join in the responses and sing off-key. The church funeral committee was flustered. The priest looked nervous. My Alzheimer stricken mother-in-law was terrified. And I was choking back laughter at the whole bizarre scene. Nobody knew what to do with him. I just figured we should let him be. It was a church after all and as they say “WWJD”?

A few months later when my dad died, he had picked out everything and pre-payed his bill. I don’t want to say my dad had no taste but he did have a tendency to gravitate to the tacky side. So when the funeral parlor brought in his casket, in my highly emotional state, I blurted out ,”Look, he blinged out his coffin just like his Cadillacs.” Really, it had way too much detailing. Fortunately, not many people had arrived. This was, after all, retirement Florida and I could have offended a number of people who had gone for the same upgrades on their cars and caskets. And speaking of funerals in Florida, the people come dressed in their golf clothes so they won’t miss their round for the day. You never know, it could be the last one. Some of the gentlemen were wearing the same outlandishly styled plaid pants they wore to my mother’s funeral some 17 years earlier. I wonder what their caskets will look like?

My mother-in-law had been planning her own funeral for years. She had written down all the things she wanted to be buried with as if she were an ancient Egyptian. Her’s was to be a Catholic mass…the higher the better. Her eyes sparkled in spiritual ecstasy when she talked about it. (We did not call her St. Dorothy for nothing). I know she envisioned a church full of mourners. But she outlived everybody. Including the people she knew from church. So what she got was a deacon darting into the funeral parlor to say a few words. Apparently, if you outlive your tithe you don’t warrant a mass. I kept expecting her to jump up and tell us we were all going to hell for treating our beloved mother so badly by not having communion. We were maybe a dozen strong for the actual “mc service”.  We did have a woman show up like she was going to a Victorian funeral. Saint Dot would have approved of her attire. The woman was dressed in black from head to toe including a veiled hat and gloves. Really creepy. She went on and on about how she used to go to my mother-in-law’s art shows. I was thinking, “That’s nice but who the hell are you?”

There have been other humorous moments in the midst of extreme sadness. We snickered at Uncle Pete, who at 96, was buried without his teeth which was appropriate because he wouldn’t wear them when he was alive either. My daughter-in-law’s father, who was a great kidder in his 50 years, found a way to play one last joke. When a snake crawled out of a floral arrangement in the middle of his funeral everybody figured it had to be his doing. And even at my precious nephew’s funeral, who died way too young at 27, we laughed at his antics as they were recounted by his many friends.

So how about you? Have you ever laughed at a funeral? Were people appalled? Or did they laugh with you?

Advertisements

8 responses to “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Funeral

  1. yourothermotherhere says:

    Sure we laugh at funerals and the reception\dinner\family reunion after it. Personally, I’d rather see people laughing and having a good time at my funeral that sobbing and feeling sad.

    • sixtiestosixties says:

      I like the New Orleans style funerals where the band dances down the street playing “When the Saints Go Marching In”

  2. Crystal says:

    I did once (Joe was there too) when my friend who lost his fight to cancer chose the song I’ve Got Friends In Low Places for his funeral. He didn’t tell anyone about that before he died so we all showed up in tears and when that sing came on we all went from tears to laughter immediately.

  3. Rowena says:

    There were lots of funny moments at Nanna Joan’s funeral. She was such a character, one of a kind! X

  4. Sharon Greer says:

    I’ve laughed at a few Irish wakes/funerals. The families set the mood. Everyone told stories and there was plenty of alcohol to assist in the merriment. Recently at a good friend’s wife’s funeral, the family was in an up mood but I just couldn’t smile. I know it’s not disrespectful to smile and laugh but I couldn’t do it.

    • sixtiestosixties says:

      I think Irish wakes and New Orleans parades are the best way to go. But grief is personal and sometimes you just aren’t there yet. Do what feels right. It was your relationship.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: