Take a small town in southern Alabama, and a young lady, just slightly out of step. Add gnarly family trees, entrenched traditions, and everyone living with skeletons in their closets - welcome to Gallagher. There one will find an extraordinary cast of insane characters. And, it could only happen in the South.
Friday, April 30, 2010
Another day, another Funeral with my mother. This one in the rain. Now down here folks want to get the most out of their going away ceremony. You want to be real prepared before you meet your maker and have to justify all your indiscretions. So the majority signup for the deluxe package with the church, the choir, the graveside ceremony. They want to go out in style and prepared.
I guess the idea is that in lieu of chits (like Martin Luther had issue with) by purchasing the deluxe faith and forgiveness package combo from the church and the funeral home, God will know you are coming, you are in good standing, are God fearing, and ready to join the army of Christian soldiers (just like they taught us in Sunday school at the Presbyterian church when I was 5 years old). The way they figure it, if the choir sings loud enough, the preacher prays long enough for your soul, and enough people show up (this is where the food after the service comes into play - if you feed them, they will come), your chances for salvation greatly increase. But I digress.
Those who either feel they are in such good standing with the old man up stairs or just don't care, often opt for the graveside service - short, sweet, to the point. This current funeral today is a graveside funeral. As we drove up, I reminded my mother to be careful walking in the cemetery. - the last thing I need is for her to fall. When we get out of the car, she said, "I need to be careful, I sure don't want to fall. You know cemeteries are dangerous places." (I love it when she hears what I say.)
The rain drizzled and the crowd gathered around the tent. As the preacher began I thought to myself that thankfully this would be short and sweet, especially with the rain. He preached and prayed and invited family members to speak (and they did). This was going on way too long - no offense to the deceased or the family, but I was cold and getting colder. Then we prayed again, making sure the soul was safe. Just when I when I thought I could move toward the car, the preacher announced that there would be a musical tribute.
While we were listening to a duo, who didn't quite make it in Memphis, my eyes wondered across the cemetery. How much does all this cost - the markers, the flowers, the plots? And, "perpetual care", who is going to care for this, forever? Among the grave markers, I notice a very attractive arrangement of yellow flowers and greenery. It seems to be the only tasteful sight in all the sea of plastic flowers in colors of purple, orange, magenta, and red.
As we made our way to the car when the service was finally over, I idled over for a closer look at the yellow flowers. As I bent down, I could clearly see a small tag - $2.95 from the Family Dollar Store. Well, that answered one thing - the price of the flowers. I imagine it went up from there.