I’d spent a considerable amount of time deciding whether to write this. On first blush, it seems disrespectful. I mean, how could telling a funny story about my stepfather’s funeral be anything BUT in poor taste?
The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that our final respects to “Poppy” weren’t contrived or phony. Rather, they were a sincere goodbye to one of the family and the way I’d wanna go when I gotta go.
|"Seriously, Jim, all over the frikkin' house!"|
NOTE: Yes, this is the same father I talk about in my “Once Upon a Time” series of stories. He finally got the heave-ho from my mother after he put shag carpet on the house siding.
So it went through thick, thin, and adolescence until, after the untimely death of our mother, it was Ray to whom we turned as head of the family.
|Like this. But worse.|
He took us to ballgames, gave us advice, provided an anchor through tough times, and was a father to five kids when he didn’t have to be. He may have thought onion dip with chips was high cuisine and Howard Stern was Masterpiece Theater, but he was our model for manhood.
|"I'm not sure about this. Anyone see the cat?"|
As funeral preparations went into high gear, we didn’t have a lot of time to dwell on the person we had lost. Concerned with the how and where, we began to lose our grip on the “who.”
During the two-day viewing, my brothers, sister, and I took our proper places in the front row (the only place where being in the “front row” is not a good thing) and paid our respects to all who came to...uh...pay their respects.
For two hours, we sat quiet as mummies, while mourners shuffled by the open casket. As they finished, they turned to us, murmuring “I’m sorry,” “He looks so natural,” (one of the stupidest sayings known to man), or some other such platitude before rushing home to watch “Jake and the Fat Man.”
Needless to say, it was kinda rough. Enduring the parade of mourners while solemnly staring at someone who looked nowhere near “natural” took its toll.
|Just kidding! But, her name was Marilyn.|
I’ve always admired her for showing up. She didn’t come to see my brother; she came to say goodbye. This, of course, didn’t stop the smirks from me and my other brothers and sister. Nor disapproving looks and hushed “tsk tsks” from some of the other, more distant, relatives.
Through it all, though, we maintained our composure.
Until Gary’s old girlfriend showed up. More smirks. Then, when one of MY old girlfriends arrived (with a nose ring that looked downright painful!), smirks became giggles.
Giggles became whispered jokes. And whispered jokes became throwing our voices at the casket when elderly relatives showed up.
As bad as our performances at the “home” were, they were nothing compared to the actual funeral.
To be continued......
Next: Poppy Gets Planted. Oh, my, was that necessary?