This is the thread for all your best funeral stories!!!!!!! Let it rip!
Today, the news will be all about Congressman Elijah Cummings. OMG, CNN pundits and MSNBC pundits are all wearing black today. They’re all using their low and somber voice. By the end of the day, I’m betting, someone will blame the death “dear sweet Elijah” on President Trump. Would anyone be dumb enough to take that bet? After the debacle of the McCain and Bush funerals, I’ve decided to be proactive about the DC funeral process, and make it FUN! Of course, no disrespect intended.
This should get you all in the mood: Remember, we’re supposed to be mourning.
Of course, we have to have food for a funeral. There are older people in our town who go to every funeral in the newspaper, just for a good meal. Funerals in the south are an outright feast. And yes, we have “funeral food”. Tops on the list is green bean casserole.
And since the 1960’s, deviled eggs are required funeral food. At our church, for every funeral, Grandma Della was assigned the deviled eggs. Since Grandma died, I assumed the deviled egg responsibility (it’s a heavy burden), and I even have the deviled egg plate.
Grandma Della’s funeral was the best funeral I’ve been to in the last 20yrs. She was a community grandma to all my girlfriends so they all knew her. We had a great time. She lived a good and full life, no tragedy, no one wailing and crying. We even lit fireworks late in the evening. Heck, I didn’t go to bed until 4:30am, finally tucked in by one of my best girlfriends.
The best mock funeral we ever did was for Michael Jackson. I dragged out the Halloween mock casket decoration for the occasion and bought some flowers from Wal-Mart for it. It was terrific and a fitting tribute. We all agreed to wear black, and something that had sequins in it. One of my girlfriends went all out and wore a black lace shroud looking thing. We wailed and moaned along with the news and then we danced. We ate well and danced some more…. cuz, it was Michael Jackson. We drank Bloody Marys all day long. Ahhh yes, Michael Jackson’s funeral was Grade A at our house.
My Funeral Story of How I Met Big T’s Family– please add your wild funeral stories as well.
Funerals in the north are just not the same, unless it’s a real Irish wake, and then it’s fun. Big T has an enormous family. Before we got married, the wife of his favorite cousin, Dee, died suddenly from a brain aneurysm at age 51. Dee and I were very close and I had my doubts about her husband’s ability to pull off a fitting funeral (Dee was the engine who owned the biz, made decisions for the family). As soon as we got the news about her death, we immediately flew to Boston. Dee’s husband and kids were a wreck, and the details of the funeral were turned over to me. I was far enough removed.
In the south, when a funeral occurs, we keep a legal pad and good pen, 0n the center hall table by the front door. This way we can write names down for everyone who brings food or houseplants, so we can send them a thank you note after the funeral. For my Grandpa’s funeral, I wrote 179 thank you notes. Grandma Della’s funeral, all my girlfriends wrote the notes with me so I can’t remember how many there were….. lots.
For Dee’s funeral, one neighbor brought the family some purchased Oreo cookies. What the h3ll? That was it? Who were these cold and calloused people? Big T tried to dampen my expectations about northern funerals, but I was miffed. The prior year, Dee was voted the top biz woman in the whole state. She was a powerhouse with an infectious laugh and above all, she was a straight shooter. Loved her. Her husband was lost, Big T’s favorite relative. It was hard. After assessing the immediate situation at her house, we went back to our house and I made 28 quarts of chicken pot pie filling, killer recipe, with a light French tarragon sauce. It was the best and biggest stock pot I’ve ever owned. Big T bought it for me on sale, a real prize. He helped me cook late into the night, I mean, someone had to eat, right?
Next day was the inventory of the clothing, meeting with funeral directors, and trip to the florist. I had a list. Big T was confused and mind-boggled. What was wrong with him? Hadn’t he ever done a funeral before? Clothing was not adequate. Big T went off with his cousin, to the department store, to outfit. Big T was a snazzy dresser, appropriately conservative, and did a great job. I took care of her daughter and grandchildren.
At the florist, and Dee’s husband was too shaken to do anything and crumbled. Big T handed me his AMEX, and told me to figure it out. I got it done, yellow roses, hand held bouquet of forget-me-nots from the grandchildren. Had to fight with the florist for the forget-me-nots. (I was in BOSTON, wtf? Did they not have appropriate flowers in the whole damn city?)
Meeting at the church, music selections, pallbearers chosen. Checking off the list.
The viewing the day before funeral went well, but it was dicey. It was the first time I met Bit T’s extended family, his parents, his sister’s family, cousins, and his ex-wife was there. All kinds of high-brow going on. I think they expected me, from Mississippi, to be wearing a red lacy negligee and reside in a trailer park. Ha! Disappointed. They were fascinated with my son, Gunner, and I had Gunner spit-polished for the occasion, gray suit, white turtleneck, oxford loafers. Big T’s dad was the state’s superior court chief justice and a 6’4″ mass of a man. He wouldn’t let Gunner go. Hundreds of extended family and biz relationships showed up. Good. Happy for Dee. She deserved the best.
Ceremony at the church was exquisite and the family looked great. It was February and the graveside ceremony was bitter cold. Everyone was freezing, I was wearing a fur coat, haha, the south wins again.
The after funeral party was to be held at an uber wealthy cousin’s home on the ocean in Cohasset…… it was catered! It was out of my control and they were so wealthy, I thought everything would be fine. Nope.
A catered funeral???????? I thought I was going to die. I huffed and puffed to Big T in the car the whole way there. Where were my girlfriends when I needed them? How insulting for Dee, who was a real girlfriend. Okay fine, fit in with the family, right? We arrived to this multi-million dollar mansion with broad sweeping views of the ocean and I dutifully took second tier in the background…… I was helping the passel of kids change into play clothing so they would not ruin their good clothes…. I brought a beautiful baby blue Lauren sweater for Gunner to wear with suit pants and some tennis shoes. The sleeves were a little too long for him and he fussed. I told him to shove up the sleeves. I was getting the kids situated…..
….until Big T came in and tapped me on the shoulder. He said, “I think they might need some help in the kitchen.” I frowned, “Not my kitchen.” There is one universal rule about a woman’s kitchen, don’t intrude unless invited by the mistress of the house. I was the interloper from Mississippi, and this kitchen was as big as my first apartment. Big T nudged me, “You really need to be in the kitchen.” He was insistent and there was a problem……. no food out and over a hundred people at the house. Kids were antsy, low blood sugar, the liquor was already flowing, and we were already out of ice.
I entered the kitchen on tiptoe. Not my place. Did not want to offend. But by then, everyone knew who I was, knew all about me, my son, my business (hmmmm wonder why?). Big T introduced me all around. There were 20 women in the kitchen and they all knew each other. I was intimidated…. but the kitchen was a disaster in the making.
Come to find out, the funeral wasn’t really catered. They just picked up incredibly expensive frozen casseroles from fabulous local Italian restaurant. When we all returned from the funeral to this spectacular home, there was no food ready, only commercial size frozen casseroles in enormous aluminum tins laid out on a center island which was the size of a ship’s hull. One niece was attempting to chip at a meatball casserole with an ice pick, killing the meatballs. In other words, we had no food and it would take at least 2-3 hours to warm it up. Only one 30″oven in this massive kitchen, 22 casseroles and only 2 would fit into the oven at a time, four burners, all electric.. not even a gas burner. We were screwed and the mistress of the house was in full meltdown. I was told “she didn’t cook much”.
Big T shot me a glance, as in, “I told you so”. Deep breath, time to dive in. I hugged the mistress of the kitchen and assured her everything would be okay, “We do this all the time.” I was lying through my teeth. We would have been prepared, but it was okay. I asked Big T to go out to the car and retrieve the approx. 23 quarts of remaining Chicken pot pie and told him to go to the store and “buy them out of Parker House dinner rolls + 12 bags of ice + bourbon”. We divided the Chicken Pot pie to warm it up faster.
Very quickly, the women in the kitchen settled into a natural rhythm. Some took places by the sink to wash and dry, others chopped and polished dishes and silver. Odd dynamic but we laughed while we worked. Girlfriends are gonna girlfriend. While the pot pie was warming, I rummaged through her frig. Enormous selection of cheese, olives, crackers, etc. I sent another person out for deli meat, while another sliced up cheeses. House had a dish pantry with some of the most beautiful porcelain I’ve ever seen…. time to get it out, dust it off and use it. I found linen which still had the tags on it, a wedding gift, and the owner had college age kids (never used it until today).
Hors d’oeuvres were out by the time big T returned. I sent two people next door to borrow their oven, and another two people to borrow the other neighbor’s oven. At first, they looked at me like I lost my mind. They don’t talk to their neighbors, but it was an emergency. It worked. We served the kids and a few adults the chicken pot pie over rolls, and they ate almost all of it (15lbs of chicken went into that pot – they were hungry). I noticed my future sister-in-law standing over her children, shoveling chicken into her mouth, picking food off their plate (mental note).
Eventually, the other casseroles thawed and bubbled up. The aroma of Italian red sauce took over the house and men began to invade the kitchen. It turned into a real family affair with people eating out of pots or straight from the counter cuz they couldn’t wait any longer. Someone turned on the Sinatra and we danced in the sunroom. The sound of pool balls cracked as the men settled into the game room. Big T ran errands all day. He was a blessing in disguise, he would be a terrific husband for some lucky woman (me).
As we were ready to depart, I went to a back bedroom to retrieve my coat. All the other coats were on one side of the bed, piled high, and arranged in a mish-mash. On the other side of the bed, Gunner was sound asleep with three other little girls underneath my fur coat. What a picture they were. The sleeves of his sweater were completely stretched out. He played so hard and kept pushing the sleeves up, now they were at least 6″ beyond his fingertips. The girls who had bows in their hair were bedraggled and drooling. They had a wonderful day. To be a child among a passel of cousins are among the best of days. As I stirred the kids to move my coat, sure enough, Gunner had a hole in his suit pants at the knee. He was such a boy.
And that’s how I met Big T’s family…….. at a funeral for my girlfriend, the best of friends, dearest Dee.