Saturday, September 10, 2011

George-Ask For Him By Name

  I know from the last post, most of you were probably wondering, "Where are the naked pictures??  Oh, yeah, and who the hell is GEORGE!?  I thought the big jerk was talking about someone called POPPY!?
  Well, today you'll find out.  Sheesh!!  It's like I have to do everything.

    Starting off with a service at the Episcopalian Church (what we refer to as “Catholic Light”) we ended up at the biggest cemetery in town.
    A military funeral (because he was in the Marines), the service was very dignified and steeped in an appropriate level of sadness.
"I'm so sorry for your gonna eat that?"
    At its conclusion, everyone but immediate family withdrew to a cold cuts, beer, and coffee fest at the Elks Lodge (something about funerals makes me crave boiled ham on a little roll).
    My brothers, my sister, our spouses, and I stared quietly at the casket as it sat suspended over the open vault.  Festooned with an untold number of floral garlands, its mute presence reminded us of our loss.
    It was then I felt a little guilty over our hijinks from the night before.
Now that I put this here, it looks kinda creepy.
In an Uncle Ernie kinda way.
    As we began to move toward our cars, we heard an almost imperceptible “psst!”  Quickly scanning the cemetery, I didn’t see anything or anyone.  Still looking, we heard it again and spotted a head peering around the side of a tree.
    What the-?
    Suddenly, George, one of the people with whom we went to high school (NOTE: Another example of snooty "whom" grammar), stepped from behind the tree, a 30-pack of Budweiser in his hand.  “Everybody gone?”  he called.
Not THE George.  But A George.
    When we told him we were the only ones left, he came over to the site and placed the case of beer on the ground.  “Well, here you are.”
    Sensing we had no clue what he was talking about it, he said, “When Ray knew he was going to die, he told me to get a case of beer and go to his gravesite and hide.  Then,” he went on, “when everybody but the kids left, he told me to come on out and let you have a beer on him.”
    Stunned, we stared at George, the beer, and the grave.   
    Nobody said a word for a few minutes.  Then, one of us-I don’t remember who-grabbed a can.  The rest of us immediately followed.
    Popping our tops, we raised our cans to Poppy in toast.
    Before we drank, though, Phil said, “Wait!”  Opening a Bud, he set it on top of the casket, “Well, here you go, cheaper than you can get at Yankee Stadium.”
    With that, we all had a beer to the memory of our father.
So pop a top to Poppy
    Needless to say, we finished that case and, despite the “These people are nuts” looks from the cemetery workers, stayed until the casket was finally lowered into the ground.
    It may have been a strange way to act at a funeral, but we knew that was the way Poppy would have preferred it.  Why else would he have had the presence of mind to contract the services of “Funerals By George”?

    Epilogue:  At the post-service "Deviled Eggs and Macaroni Salad Fest", we were discussing how we’d like to be remembered when it was our turn to shuffle off this mortal coil.  We agreed that nobody should be sad; while “have fun with it” sounds morbid, it pretty much sums up our philosophies.
    Then, we “handicapped” who would go next.  After focusing on who had the most hazardous profession (technically me, but Karen does have that rattlesnake walking business), we finally centered on health problems.  While none of us have any medical issues to speak of, Phil and I DO have high blood pressure.  Since we couldn’t decide who was more likely to die next, we flipped a coin.
    I lost. 
    Wonder if George is in the phone book?


  1. Haha, nice blog post buddy, such a funny story. Following your blog for more of this, some interesting, funny stuff you have here.

  2. I think a beer to say good-bye is a nice tribute. And it is what he wanted so of course you had to respect his wishes.

  3. I actually teared up a little bit at the whole "drink up" message from beyond the grave. I think it was perfect. My grandmother, who is getting up there in age and not in the best health, has forbidden up from wearing black or crying. While I don't see that happening I know that we will spend more time remembering the wonderful times with her than on our sense of loss. I think that is the way it should be.

  4. That's a great story. What an awesome man he was. Makes me think that I should have someone pass out chocolate at my funeral.

    PS Re self publishing, there's lots of details info on this blog:


  5. My Dad forbade my mother to wear black at his funeral, so she wore navy and red.

  6. Loved the story and what a way to remember someone

  7. Al - I'm doing a little catch-up reading, just came from Funerals by George, Part One...and here I am, going geez louise that was great!

    I'm on the same page as you about going out with a smile and a laugh - or is that attending yours with a smile and a laugh!

    Either way, to me, death is a topic of fascination and intrigue and not at all morbid - in fact, sometimes I make it a point to have the "so-have-you-planned-your-death-yet" conversation at work. I just love the jaw dropping that follows!

    Better to be prepared, and have some plan to entertain the "family" after the hole has been dug - just like your Poppy did with the beer. God rest his soul - actually I hope his soul is having a right good time, wherever it may be!

    Cheers, Jenny

    PS You tell a great tale! Have you ever read Tuesdays with Morrie?

  8. Your thought processing is wonderful. The way you tell the thing is awesome. You are really a master. Great Blog!! That was amazing

    Your thought processing is wonderful. The way you tell the thing is awesome. You are really a master. Great Blog!! That was amazing.

    1. Thank you! I love that my family gives me true stories!