Monday, September 23, 2013

Monday Morning Stories With Mookie - Episode 85

The Time Mookie Encountered Weirdness At A Funeral

Even without the whole "sadness of dying" thing, funerals are hard for me sometimes.  You have to talk to people, and you have to say something to the bereaved while paying your respects - which is horrible in itself because nothing you say is going to matter or make the pain go away.  I remember standing in a line of family members at my Grandmother's funeral, and those that came to pay their respects would sometimes stop and talk to us grand kids.  "I'm sorry for your loss."  Uh yeah. Thanks. It totally does nothing.  In fact, in the back of my head I was probably thinking "My Grandmother thought you were an A-Hole.  Keep walking there Buster." I guess some people must feel compassion and relief when other's are "sorry for your loss." Me?  I'm just uncomfortable.

While I don't like going to funerals, I do enjoy certain things I see at them. There is usually a nice tribute, or "shrine" of sorts made by the family for everyone to look at. Its always neat to see things the recently deceased did, or pictures of them "way back when." Then of course then there are the things I see or hear at funerals that just make me shake my head.  Sometimes its good - Sometimes its not - and sometimes it gets a little weird.
Thankfully I have never seen anything this weird...yet.

One time I went to a funeral for a girl - "Kelly"(*) - who I used to work with at a previous employer. Kelly was only a few years older than I was, and died unexpectedly due to an undiagnosed heart issue. Sadly she left behind a husband and small daughter, so it was just sadness across the board. While waiting in line to greet the family at the visitation - I overheard someone say that Kelly's MOTHER styled KELLY'S HAIR for the visitation. I was like "Whoa."

I had forgotten Kelly told me several years back that her Mom was a hair stylist, so while I shouldn't have been surprised at this news -  it was definitely weird.  I had never heard of a family member doing their deceased family member's hair/makeup.  My only thought was that maybe it gave the Mom some peace in the matter, made her happy to do this one last thing for her daughter. This fact was confirmed when someone ahead of me in line pulled the Mom aside and said how wonderful Kelly's hair looked. Kelly's Mom matter-of-factly said that she "just wanted her daughter to look good."

Needless to say - any sadness I felt at that moment was overridden by the shock of how odd I thought that whole thing was.  But that's me though.

A side note to this story...as if it wasn't odd enough: Kelly's husband - who is not much older than I am - was previously married before he had met Kelly and that wife had cancer and also died! So this poor dude had been widowed not once....but twice.  Just sad and odd.

While I have lots of "funeral stories," and will probably share more of them in future Monday Morning Stories, I must share this little bit of funeral weirdness because it still makes me laugh to this day.

My wife and I went to the funeral of Dorothy - the old lady that used to live next door to the house where I grew up. She was a wonderfully nice lady, and looked down upon me as a surrogate grandchild at times. One thing Dorothy was good at during a point in her life was playing the piano. Therefore during the funeral, at the places where there would normally be a hymn - they played recorded piano music of what were apparently Dorothy's favorite songs.  One of the last songs played - right after the very nice and tearful eulogy her daughter gave - was the song "When The Saints Go Marching In." If you have ever heard this song before, you know this song is played as a traditionally jazzy march. I had never heard this song at a funeral before and I started to giggle. I looked at my wife, and at my parents who were also there - and they started giggling too.  It was the weirdest song I had ever heard at a funeral, and yet it was totally Dorothy.  It was great.

I learned later that the song is actually a Christian hymn, but that it most often has the jazz style applied to it.  For this reason, it is quite common at funerals in New Orleans and such.

In hindsight, its just too bad Dorothy wasn't wearing any beads.



(*) - Names changed to protect the guilty/innocent


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