Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I don't HEART funerals.

I told in my last post about my most recent sermon and how at the time, I felt like I didn’t get anything out of it. This is about another sermon where I got more than I bargained for. This is a bit long and let me add a disclaimer in case anyone is offended. If you are then all I can say is; you had to be there. This is true in its entirety. I didn’t make this up. The names were changed to protect the innocent.

I have a confession. I am not a big fan of funerals. I guess no one really is a "fan" of them. I have never liked them. It’s much deeper than “not like”. I put funerals right up there with spiders. I hate them. If there were a way not to attend my own funeral, I would do it. I hate the sadness and sorrow but mostly I hate “the body.” I don’t need to see the body to have closure. Some people do but not me. Ok in some cases it is an urn full of ashes but you get the picture. And then someone always has to make the statement; He looks so peaceful, or doesn’t she look good? Ummmm No. They look dead to me. Am I the only one who can see that? If I am forced to attend my own funeral and if someone decides to let people look at me, the only thing I want people to say is; “Oh my God, it’s a miracle, he is still alive.”

Several years ago, I was asked to attend a funeral for the brother in law of a co-worker. It was one of those things where the company I worked for expected someone from the company to attend the funeral so they asked who wanted to go. I really didn’t want to go but I said I was available since I did like the co-worker and I felt that someone should attend just to show we care. Seriously I do care for this person and think a lot of her but I just don’t like funerals. After asking for volunteers, Nancy (another co-worker) and I were chosen. I have to stop right here and tell you that the fact that Nancy and I were “chosen” was in itself suspicious.

Let me give you some background. At the time, I was working in a very small town. The town’s people loved funerals. It was considered a town event and everyone went to them. If you even knew someone who knew someone who knew the deceased, you would attend the funeral. If a friend’s dog died they would have a funeral and by golly you better be there. If granny was in her nineties and had a cold, they would start arranging for her funeral just to be prepared. There is no since waiting until the last minute for a funeral. Granny’s going to go sometime so why not be prepared. So it was strange that no one else from where I worked was attending THIS funeral. Also I have to mention that Nancy and I were the only two people in our office that weren’t from that little town.

Now to make matters worse, the church where the funeral was being held wasn’t in the little town. And it wasn’t in the adjacent, even smaller town of Bubba’s crossroads. It was actually in between the two towns at a little bump in the road that wasn’t even on the map. We had the option of attending any of the events including the “sitting up” the "viewing", the funeral or the gravesite service so we chose the funeral. I figured it was the best thing to go to since usually no one is forced to see the body. The day before the funeral, we heard whispers in the office about this little church and it’s preacher. When I asked what they were talking about they just said he was a little strange but it would be ok. Then they whispered some more.

I also want to tell you that through my years I have been to almost every church denomination out there. Everything from Seventh Day Baptist to Catholic and I have even been inside a Synagogue and heard a Rabi speak but this was different from any church I had ever been in. This was a small town, one room, non air conditioned "deep in the heart of dixie" Evangelical Church. I wore my best (only) suit which was navy blue and I had on a very light blue shirt with a dark blue tie which had a diagonal stripe on it. Nancy wore a black dress which was cut just above her knees with black heels and pearls. It was a little bit low cut but I thought we looked pretty good. Oh Nancy is about 25 years younger than I am. Stay with me, I am just trying to set the stage here.

Ok so we arrive at the Church and like any good Baptist we park in such a way that we can make a quick escape if we need to. (back pew sitter here) We were a few minutes early so we sat in the car and talked. As we looked across the street at the people outside the church, Nancy asked if anything looked strange. I gave it a long look and then noticed what she was talking about. All the men were standing in a group on one side of the church and the women were on the other side. ALL the men were wearing black suits with white shirts and slim black ties. The women all had on floor length dresses that were grey or brown. They were buttoned up high, right to their neck and they all had on black shoes. None of them had on any makeup. I looked at Nancy (who had on makeup) and asked; what have we gotten ourselve into? We both tried to find reasons not to go in but we both wanted to be there to support our friend so we reluctantly went inside.

We could feel people staring at us as we approached the church so we tried not to make eye contact and we quickly slipped inside. Darn, the back rows were reserved so we had to sit about mid way up. You would have thought we were brides walking down the aisle with the way everyone turned and stared at us. We found a pew with only two people in it so Nancy went in first and I slid in beside her. The man she sat beside looked disgusted but he didn’t move or say anything. So there we sat with people staring at us as the church began to fill up. Before long, the pews were full, all except the two seats beside me. Obviously no one wanted to sit there. They brought out the folding chairs which quickly filled up and people were standing in the isles but no one was sitting beside me. Then just before the service started, two young girls in their 20’s came in and they sat beside me. They were also wearing short skirts and theirs were more colorful than Nancy’s. They also had on more makeup and lots of jewelry.

Ok now I am starting to sweat and not just because there was no AC in the building or the fact that there were 100 people in a church designed for a maximum of 50. I could feel the eyes staring at “Big Daddy G and his 3 Ho’s.” I wanted to get up and move myself but it was too late. The service started. Could this get any worse? Oh yes it could. The first thing they did was to prop up the coffin so everyone could get a good look at “Brother Jim.” There was no escaping it. They raised the end of the coffin so that everyone (including me) had to see him laying there.

The preacher was a tall thin wiry man just like I imagined. He held a small black bible in his hand and began waving it as he preached. Now I enjoy reading the Bible and most of it cheers me up. All except for one book and you guessed it. That’s where he opened the Bible and began reading: “It says right here in Revelations that all sinners are going to burn in Hell.” Hey I thought this was about Brother Jim. Why is he looking at me? Maybe it was my imagination but every time he said the words burn in hell, I felt like he was staring right at me and the ladies beside me. Now I really start to sweat. He even jumped (literally jumped) off the stage a couple of times and ran (literally ran) up the aisle and stood beside us as he shouted about fire and damnation. By the time the service was over, Big Daddy G was sitting in a pool of sweat and I have to say Nancy was equally drenched. This didn’t help matters for her either because her once modest dress was now very clingy. When the service ended we were the first ones out the door and we paid our respects to our co-worker and then headed for our car. We were now glad we used the rapid escape plan and we pulled away even before they had Brother Jim in the long black Cadillac.

Once inside the car, Nancy reached under her seat and found her emergency cigarette (she had recently quit smoking) and with shaking hands lit it. Fortunately she only had one because I would have joined her. (I am an ex smoker too and it has been over 15 years since I have had one) I think she took about 4 drags on it and it was gone. We hardly said a word as we drove away from the church. We decided to stop for lunch to calm down before returning to work. When we got inside the restaurant we looked at each other across the table and burst out laughing. Nancy said she would never step foot in a church again but I know she was just joking. I used my company credit card to pay for the meals. As I saw it, they owed us that much.

Have a great day,
Greg

21 comments:

God's girl said...

Sounds like a very interesting funeral:) Thanks for stopping by my blog! Heaven

Marjie said...

If a funeral can be funny, this one was.

Daisy said...

OH*WOW!!! That is quite a story!!! I don't like funerals either. And I hate when people say (about the deceased) "doesn't he/she look good?" No! They do not look good! They look dead to me. I have already instructed my daughters that my casket is to be CLOSED! I don't want anyone saying, doesn't she look good. Because if I "look good" dead, then I must have looked like crap when I was alive!

Renie Burghardt said...

I hate funerals as well!

I enjoyed your funny/strange funeral story. You told it so well!

All the best!

Renie

Patrice said...

What scares me the most about your post, is that we are too much alike....are we related some how??

I do not like funerals, I think funeral homes are haunted and I will not drive behind a hearse! Completely freaked out by anything that deals with dead people.....but I love to read tombstones...huh, I must be weird!! I have been working on a post that I have not put up yet, and these are a few things mentioned already!

These poeple that you are talking about.....I live across and down the hill from folks like this....yep, they look at me like I just feel off the circus train that just left town!!

Thanks for the good laugh, I can just see you sitting there with your "women"!! Ha ha!

Chatty Kelly said...

My grandma always loved funerals and would love to say how "nice" everyone looked and would love to go to the meal afterwards and tell you all about the "big spread" they had for so-and-so.

Like most people, I hate funerals. Yuck. But I loved your story. Problem is, next time I go to a funeral, I'll probably thinking about you sweating and the pastor shaking his bible at you, and I'll start laughing...and get all the dirty looks you did. And it will be your fault. Thanks. :D

Chatty Kelly said...

p.s. Your title seems suspiciously familiar, in a way. (Because I HEART Bob Coy.)

The Blonde Duck said...

Funerals freak me out.

Brooke said...

I briefly dated a guy who came from a very reputable family that owned a chain of funeral homes in Miami. Of course, I didn’t realize that until he picked me up from work in a hearse and gave me flowers that were left over from a funeral. True Story! I should blog about this. See what Scarlet started! Loved you story…it’s all about perception and I think we have a lot in common! By the way, you owe us the other scarecrow story! LOL!

Jeannie said...

How I feel about a funeral depends on the age and circumstances surrounding the death. I don't mind dead people. I seriously considered being a funeral director a while back. I hate unnatural makeup though and get the urge to scrub and redo. I am quite fascinated in fact. I always touch the hand of the deceased. I need that closure. And I enjoy the social time afterward. I might be weird.

Becky said...

LOL. Glad big daddy G made it out alive. Same thing happened to me at my friends Pentecostal church. The preacher stood right in front of me looking eye to eye, raised his hands to the heavens and exclaimed, "I feel Satans presence here in this room tonight!" It was all very dramatic and I could care less but my friend still apologizes to this day. It happened when I was in high school.

Scarlet said...

Although this is a long post, it reads like a short story...a funny one, and I loved it!! I felt like I was right there with you...sitting and sweating in church next to Big Daddy G and his 3 Ho's. ;) You painted a realistic and bizarre picture of a small town funeral.

You've inspired me to write about Miami funerals. One of these days.

Wanda said...

How funny ~~ I posted just a few minutes ago about a funeral I will be attending this weekend.

Being in the ministry for 47 years, my husband has had hundred's of funerals, and I've been by his side.

In 47 years I've never experience on that come close to the one you went to....

You gift of sharing a story is wonderful, and I had to laugh to when you took us in the cafe...

Great job Greg...

Lori said...

OK, I normally would never burst out laughing at a funeral story but yours is to funny not to.

I'm glad you made it out alive!

Lori

Katherine Aucoin said...

I can't even imagine! Did you ever find out what denomination they were? Sounds almost kind of Amish. At least you can look back and laugh and I avoid funerals too. I think it's more important to show your respect to people while they are alive not after they have died.

Kristen said...

Oh my gosh, what an ordeal! Really funny, but still - yikes! A funeral isn't the time to be condemning people - sheesh!

I know what you mean about the body, though. I HATE wakes. The person looks so artificial and weird with the make-up and stuff. My best friend's father died this summer, and I got no closure from seeing him in the coffin because it didn't look like him at all! Why do they have to put blush and lipstick on? I know the person is dead - I don't need the charade of his/her empty body looking like it's alive. That just creeps me out.

Sandy said...

hahahah, another hilarious post by you! What an experience you had. I literally could see this all play out, from your description!

and about funerals, I'm with ya.. I told my husband I don't want one. Just let everybody come over to the house and have a beer and talk only good things about me. And I don't want anybody offering to help clean out my "stuff". It's only for my husband to do. They would be shocked at the collections of books, tapes, jewelry, art supplies, etc. No ONE but my husband can go through my after effects.

I definitely enjoyed this post today.

Rachel said...

WOW. What a story!

I started rolling at "Big Daddy G and his 3 Hos" and had tears rolling down my cheeks.

And I love that you said I don't HEART funerals. Nice. :)

Janice Thomson said...

Great story Greg with your wonderful sense of humor on a sad event.

Angie said...

Oh Big Daddy G, you make me laugh. I've never heard such a hysterical story about a funeral.

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