The funeral is over, the flowers are losing their color and by all accounts life is marching forward. I am truly blessed with some of the best friends and family. You get a real feel for who you can turn to after a major event and all the people who stood by me during “The Big Mistake” as Anna calls it, were just as solid and strong this time around. Thanks to everyone for all the kind words and many great stories. Thank you for thinking the funeral truly reflected my Mom; that’s what I was hoping for but you never know and I was critiquing it with my mother’s eye so I saw all the unpolished bits that I wish would have been better – but short of a full blown Broadway production, I don’t know how it could.
That being said, I’ll move on with my personal favorite story from the funeral – the crazy lady. I guess since one of my other aunts couldn’t be there, this woman volunteered to try and make me go wild eyed – of course, she didn’t have my own aunt’s knack, which is a good thing – otherwise there would have been big drama, and I can’t stand big drama at funerals.
So I promised a story…
A half hour before the visitation, after I’d visited with the Reverend and as my cousin was making all the displays look top notch, a lady walked in. Everyone had a “job” except for me and since I’m “the daughter” I guessed my job was to talk to strangers. I introduced myself and found out this woman worked with Mom… so she says. In a short amount of time, I learned about her grandkids, her sinus troubles (three doctor’s visits missed), how her grandmother had passed away when she was 92 or maybe 94 (my head was reeling at this point), and on and on and on it went. She asked me how old I was, which I thought was one of those questions that fell under politics, religion and weight. I told her – maybe out of morbid curiosity to see where the conversation was going and she then told me about how she’d lost her parents when she was in her mid 20’s, but she begrudgingly acknowledged that yeah, mine was bad, too.
Let me take a moment to reflect on this bit – I completely get that she was trying to sympathize, but big flags went up – was she trying to compete? Was she saying mine was bad, but really hers was much worse? That may be completely true – I don’t know. I wasn’t there, but cut me a little bit of slack – hers was 25+ years ago, and mine was 4 days before and on that day I got to watch my world turn upside down very vividly.
I was starting to twitch, but because this woman was so early there was no graceful escape. She asked if my mother had any grandchildren… this woman who supposedly knew my mom. I swear, but Jay think I’m misremembering a bit, that she asked if I had siblings, too. This woman knew my Mom? Not buying it.
Then she’d get really close to me and hug for long periods of time, then pull back and stay within an inch of my face while saying, “Your mother is still here with you”. I’m not sure if her aim was to make me bawl, if so, it wasn’t working. What was happening, as most of you guys know, is I was FREAKING OUT – I despise people touching me, especially people I don’t know and that meaningful conversation an inch from my face (I’m farsighted, for starters – can’t stand anything close to my face) was pushing every single one of my crazy buttons.
At one point while she was beating her chest to indicate that my mother was there in my heart (thank the Lord for small favors that she wasn’t beating my chest) – she said, and I’m not even kidding:
“I still talk to my grandmother, only she can’t talk back. Well, she does talk back but I can’t hear her yet.”
(Not so bad, right… wait for it.)
“Well, actually she does talk back to me all the time.”
I gave her my best “I think you’re NUTS smile”.
I admit, I zoned completely out when she started mentioning “retarded” people. I only remember that line because I squeezed Jay’s hand to send the “I think she’s retarded” signal. Thankfully after about 45 minutes one of my co-workers arrived. YAY! I hugged him, because he’s on the “ok to hug” list and I dumped her on him. Yes, I know I owe him big.
The whole time I kept looking down the chapel at my Mom in her coffin and I wanted her to pull me to the side and tell me who this woman was. Unfortunately, all that popped into my head was, “she must be here for the free mints”. Thanks Mom. One day maybe we’ll have a little chat about that.
As she finally made her way to the door, which was more by accident than design, Jonathan, who hadn’t really heard about the craziness yet but can sniff out crazy called after her, “go easy on the meds!!” with a huge smile. And with that, Jonathan made me laugh the way only your close friends can when you’re profoundly sad.