First off- if any of my extended family happens to come across this, it is meant in good fun and don’t get your panties all in a twist.
We had just moved to Florida and my dad calls.
“Hey your grandmother’s sister just died and she can’t go to the funeral. She (the grandmother’s sister) didn’t live far from you so maybe you could take one for the team and go make an appearance.”
Sure, why not?
Now as a former music director, I have been to countless funerals. They are pretty standard. Usually the only thing of the ordinary is when it is really obvious that the family/friends hasn’t been to mass since childhood.
This funeral, however, was one for the ages.
I was getting dressed and I hemmed and hawed over what to wear. I didn’t know these people so I wasn’t sure if they were dress in black or dress in color type of a crowd. Didn’t know if it was a more formal situation or if it was a more casual affair. In the end I decided on a simple woven shirt and black pants. I might have grabbed a jacket just in case, I don’t remember.
I arrive at the cemetery and quickly realized that my concerns for being under-dressed were wholly unfounded as one of the family members walked up the aisle wearing jean cutoffs and a Harley Davidson tank top. Then there was the son-in-law who just happened to have a guitar and sang some song about momma being proud of him.
The service (?- I have no idea what you would call the funeral home part but I’m going with service) was over and we headed outside for the burial.
It’s then that things started to get a little weird.
Keep in mind that there is only one person, maybe two, at this thing that I’ve ever clapped eyes on and that was when I was a toddler so my recollection would never be trusted in a court of law. Yet there are people coming up to me and hugging me (I’m not a big hugger and definitely not a stranger hugger!) telling me how sorry they are for my loss! One guy says something about how he was married to my great-aunts daughter but they had been divorced for fifteen years or so but he just loved that Butch.
Oh yea, my great-aunt went by Butch. Awesome.
*sidenote: It is all together possible that this funeral was not for Aunt Butch and that I’m confusing her with another aunt but to clarify this I would have to call my mom and my phone is in the other room so I’m sticking with Aunt Butch. But in all honestly does it matter if it was actually Aunt Butch that died? I have a great aunt who is known as Butch- that is awesome enough that semantics have no place.
Edit: My brother was quick to inform me that the aunt who died was not Butch and not only that but Butch is still alive and kicking. Ooops.
The random hugging continued until people started heading towards their cars. Never one not to follow a crowd, I went to my car as well. I took advantage of that moment of people and non-compromised personal space and called my mother to share the events as they had happened so far. During that phone call some random man leans in through my open window and hugs me!
If ever there was a need for mace (and if a funeral were an appropriate setting for the macing of a creepy individual) this was it. I can not even imagine what prompted him to do that. Was it the partially open window? The fact I was on the phone? The look of horror that I can only imagine was broadcast clearly across my face?
We will never know.
Anyways. So I’m in the car and the cars in front of me start moving.
Honest to god, I drove about 30 yards before we stopped and people were getting out of their cars. I’m not sure where the breakdown in communication was but seriously there was zero need for a motor vehicle of any sort to be involved in this change of venue. I started laughing but was able to compose myself long enough to get out and head up to the mausoleum.
As if this wasn’t the strangest string of events already, one of the funeral home workers was passing out bottles of water. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a burial that provided refreshments before and I think it’s an idea that could take off. Why be parched as you send off your loved ones? They would want you to feel well hydrated, I’m sure of it.
So we’re sitting there, funeral home man (who I am fairly positive had never met the woman he was committing to the earth- hell I didn’t know the woman and I could tell he didn’t!) is doing is thing, progressing as it usually does.
Then there were words spoken that to this day make me laugh just thinking about it. I did not think that this even could get any odder but I was sooooo wrong.
Because as he closed his book the preacher/funeral director/man they found roaming the streets said “And now it is time for *insert great-aunt’s name that I can’t remember here* to go night night.
It took every single ounce of self-control I had, which is not a lot, to not lose it right then and there. Given the water bottle situation I’m surprised there wasn’t at least one spit take. But this crowd was not in the least bit fazed. Amazing really.
After that I made my way to the family, introduced myself, was told that there was no mistaking that I was my father’s daughter, gave my condolences, and then I was out of there.
Thankfully I made it back to my car before I started laughing (don’t be too impressed with that seeing as I only had a short hop, skip, and a jump to get there).
And it was then I made a promise to myself. My best friend may want her thumbs to twiddle as she lay there in repose but when it is my time to be lowered into the dirt- I want the priest to wish me night-night. Seems only right.
Sweetie when Uncle Mike’s grandma Yarbrough passed away a couple of years ago the guys from the funeral home passed out bottled water at the grave side service. This was a first for us but we chalked it up to the fact that it was June and most of those folks at the graveside service were 65 or older.