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.
PS – Tori has the BEST FUNERAL STORY EVER, and needs to post it here.
Im with Raven … Hell Im almost 40 (Shut eeet!) and I still need miss and want my Mom. For the record I was 27? when Mom died. Not sure where that puts me in the contest. But I know Im in the lead for most loved ones to die between Sept 20th-26th! Hey I need to win at something. Beth actually told my funeral story last? month. Yolonda we still miss you! Love and BIG tight too close too long breathing down your neck and in your ear hugs~
Beth – I was 24 when my mother died and I still needed my mommy. I really wish I could have been there for you at the service so I could smite that old woman for you.>>I know how much you love a good story, so I thought I would share this with you.>>My mother’s service was a riot, and I don’t mean that in the “good” way. I was PISSED that the pastor who delivered her eulogy (spelling?) was basically a total stranger who met her 2 weeks before she died (apparently when you’re dying of cancer its a good time to reach out to God, never in 24 years did my mother ever take me to church). Anyway, this pastor spoke about how one of the great joys in life was her giving birth to me and raising a child. As this point in the service I stood up to scream at him only to be pulled back into place by both my father and my husband (I’m adopted, very proud of that fact, and this moron is talking about my mother giving birth. Did I mention it was her funeral at the time and I was temporarily deranged?)>>I arranged for a piece of music to be played after the eulogy (yeah, I suck at the spelling, moving along) which was Music Box Dancer. It was one of her favorite pieces of music. During the whole service I had my anger to keep me strong but when that song played I broke down completely. I wore make up that day (what the fuck was I thinking?!) and looked like a train wreck afterwards. THEN, the icing on the cake, after the service, every single person who attended the funeral came up to the family row and hugged us. And I mean ALL OF THEM. Beth, I come very close to your level of freakiness when it comes to people touching me. I swear it was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to stand thru. That and listening to “I’m sorry” (I already told you that story).>>As people are leaving the service to attend the reception, the funeral director comes up to us and says, you need to get rid of these flowers, we’re having another service today. Beth, I am not kidding you, there must have been at least 40 different arrangements there, 2 of them were at least 4 feet tall that banked the table where we had pictures of my mother placed (she chose not to have a viewing). I’m asking the guy, what the fuck am I supposed to do with all this stuff, about 2 critical baby steps away from a major freak out, when one of the people my mother works with offered to use his van to take the flowers away. We sent some of them to the old folks home, some to the hospital, and I took enough of them home that I had to house some of them in the bathtub.>>After all that, I finally make it to the reception, where I find out no alcohol is being served. I send my best friend out to get a bottle and then I get accosted by this cousin of my fathers, who is quite possibly one of the most unpleasent women on the planet. I’m wearing a black dress that my mother bought for me, because it is the only black dress I own. I need to take a moment to describe the dress so you can appreciate this part. Its black velour, long sleeved, high in the front, dips dangerously close to my ass in the back and ends about 5 inches above the knee. Ok, maybe not the ideal dress to wear to a funeral, but fuck it, my mother bought me the dress, obviously SHE liked it, and so did I. So this woman, who’s name I can’t recall right now, we’ll just call her Douche Bag, says to me, I don’t recall your hair being that color and give me this weird fishy eyed look. I explain to her my hair color depends on what day of the week it is. She looks me up and down and informed me that my dress is completely inappropriate for the service. At this point I am sober as a judge, been thru quite possibly the most stressful time in my life, and this bitch wants to critique my clothes. I tell her, my mother bought this dress for me because she knew I’d look smashing in it and let’s be honest, I have a GREAT ass. Thankfully she decided to be offended and left after that. I have no idea how I got thru the rest of the day (at that point the bottle magically arrived).>>PLease believe me when I say this is not a competition, I just know your love of a good story. Its an example of how fucking awful people can be at ANY time in your life and you need to respond accordingly. Make it your goal in life to never go to bed at night thinking, damn, I should have said that!>>I love you Beth. Next time I’m in town we’re hunting that old woman down and beating her with her own cane.