Monday, April 19, 2010

Spring Funeralizing

Back to funeralizing with my mother. Earlier this week, she called me almost in tears. Now my mother is a very caring and compassionate person but I rarely experience her at the point of tears. One of her oldest friends had passed away in her sleep the previous night. The family had called Mama to let her know. I'm not sure whether the tears were from her friend's death - which was really not unexpected or that the family felt that my mother was special enough to get one of the first phone calls - down here, how high you are on the notification hierarchy is major.

Anyway, the bottom line here was that this meant another visitation. After the normal discussion of how long she had been ill (a while), how much more she could have gotten out of life (a lot), how much her late husband loved her (total adoration), and all the good times she and her husband had had with my parents (many), we got down to brass tacks - I asked her if she knew what the family plans were.

That led into an entire discussion of how her friend had secluded herself from society for so long that she wasn't sure what the family would do. "Well, Mama, just because she stayed home, doesn't mean they can't have a funeral." "Oh, Lord no, I didn't mean that. It's just that when you stay out of the public eye for so long . . ." I finished her sentence."They think you had already died." "Well, I'd never say that." "But that's what you meant." "Well," she said in exasperation,"I don't know their plans. I'll call you when I do."

Later that day, she called to say that the visitation would be later in the week. "And, they are not having it at the funeral home. Her son is having it at his home." "Ok" "Ok? I think that's a little different, don't you." "It's their family and their visitation. What time do you want me to pick you up?" "I guess around six o'clock," she said with a certain amount of resignation.

Mama called me the following day to bring me up-to-date on the news and gossip on her friend's family. Now I am good friends with the daughter-in-law, so I figured there was some good reason they were having the visitation at their home. But, I just let Mama stew a bit. To her, it was not fittin.

So Thursday afternoon, I picked her up and we went to the visitation. As we approached their driveway, there were cars pouring in. "Well, I knew there would be crowds. Everyone wants to see their home. Look, there's Mary, and my Sunday school teacher, and look, the Summers." I drove her up to the front door and let her out before I parked the car. It was a beautiful spring day and landscaped yard was in full bloom.

As I entered the home, there were many old friends I had not seen in a while. Mama, meanwhile was making her way through the crowd. I found my friend and offered my condolences. The family seemed fine, in fact the atmosphere was anything but solemn. As I made my way into the kitchen I saw a counter of food, and not church lady funeral food mind you, but hor d'ouvres. About that time, I noticed folks coming in from the deck with beer and other adult beverages. It was then it dawned on me - this wasn't just any visitation - this was a southern wake. A nice spring day, a beautiful yard in full bloom, the weather was ideal.

Mama was adapting well. She was mingling and making her way through the crowd. Of course she had not seen many of the older family members in some time so it was like "Old Home Week" for her. As we left, she commented, "Well that was such a good time. It was so nice to see everyone." I thought to myself, going back to the funeral home will never be the same.

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