Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Keep 'Em Laughing as You Go...

My maternal grandfather passed away a little over three years ago. The funeral home arranged for a public viewing on a Thursday with the funeral to be on the Friday. As Atropos would have it, there was a horrible ice storm on that Wednesday night, and that town and its environs lost electricity, the roads were almost completely blocked in some cases, and huge numbers of trees suffered massive damage and lost limbs. Thursday's viewing wasn't possible.

On Friday, the second- or third-generation funeral director modified the schedule to allow people to come and visit before the actual funeral service. Not only is he a nice man, but his family has been friends of my family for years - possibly for generations. There was quite a turnout. My grandparents were well known and well respected in their community. I didn't grow up anywhere near that town, because my parents moved away when I was an infant, but quite a few people talked to me like they'd seen me every week for 35 years instead of every week for the first six months of my life, and then twice since then.

The minister of my grandparents' church arrived a few minutes late for the service, but honestly, what's the rush? Nobody's going anywhere, and we all knew that the roads still weren't clear. This minister had only been at that church for a few months, so he didn't really know Grandpa and Grandma all that well, but he wanted to do the best he could for his flock. My mom and her two siblings all moved away from this town, and the nine grandchildren and their families were scattered even further, so none of us had ever met the guy.

He stood at the podium, cleared his throat, and began to speak. "We are heah to wemember the life of David Woberts*. He was eighty-thwee years old..."

Eight grandchildren suddenly put their hands up over their faces and started to "cry." The eldest grandchild has just that little extra sense of decorum that kept her from shaking with laughter.

Later, we all cheered ourselves up from our loss by saying, "Twue Wove" or "Mawwiage" to each other. I don't plan to die, but if I do, I hope I have some kind of ridiculous occurrence at my funeral that just makes people bust out laughing.

*Not his real name, but his real surname did start with "R."

Life's a piece of sh!+
When you look at it
Life's a laugh and death's a joke, it's true.
You'll see it's all a show
Keep 'em laughing as you go
Just remember that the last laugh is on you.
--from "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life", by Monty Python


gay CME guy said...

This is a great story! Given that my life has been anything but conventional, I fully expect my death will be something bizarre to put the capper on this bizarre life.
This also reminds me of the funeral of my best friend's Dad, back in Dec '95. She's an only child, her Mom died when we were in HS. Her parents married late in life were older when they had her. My best friend could well be identified as a fag hag. Nearly all of her friends are gay men.
The funeral was downstate near our hometown (small farm town).
I knew the funeral director from my florist days. His daughter was learning the business, and she was in charge of G's funeral. G's visitation/funeral was right after another. I did the flowers. The family and I arrive for the family viewing. The other funeral was just leaving. I'm helping get the room cleared out, and set up for G.
A number of my friend's gay friends came down from Chicago. Some of them were standing in back. The funeral director (daughter), at one point went back to them and asked, "are you pallbearers, we have your seats reserved in front." Witty Terry replies with, "Oh no, we just know how to dress nicely." The poor funeral director did not know what to do with this crowd. We later all laughed about G's big gay funeral and send off.

Anonymous said...

reminds me of my brother's mawwiage in England. My now ex brother in law was reading a passage out of the book of common prayer and instead of saying "I will trust in you" he said "I will thrust in you". Sitting in the front row and having had a fling with him the night before I think I was the only one who heard it. Or all the brits did hear it but managed to keep the upper lip stiff. I of course snorted a few times.