My mother loves to terrorize me and my sister by talking about how she wants her funeral to go down. Years ago, when she was living in West Palm Beach, she had some obituaries saved. One was a newspaper page size photo of a man in a top hat who looked like he just finished his last move in a tap dance routine. Underneath the photo was his name, date of birth and date of death. “Something like this is great!” my mother said. “This guy loved life! He could take a joke! I don’t even know him and I know that about him. That’s how I want to go”
My sister and I would run out of the room “Mom! Stop!”
“I just want a party. No funeral. Just a big fat party”
She had another one of a woman who appeared to be propped up in a big queen’s chair with tropical plants and what I remember as oversized stuffed animals. I wondered if the picture was really taken after she was deceased and if it was legal to have a wake with the body propped up like that. I never did any research.
Somebody recently told my mother about a Green Burial. In the scenario she heard about, grieving family members take their deceased loved one on a boat, sail out to sea and hoist the body overboard.
“Good luck finding somebody to participate.” I said.
“It’s nice. Out to sea forever”
“I’m sorry but I am not going to throw my mother overboard”
“Oh stop, you wouldn’t THROW me”
“You stop. I am not doing it”
I then had to google green burials. There is a place in North Carolina that does it.
There was also an article about people who did it wrong and the body came back to shore 3 weeks later. The article suggested having a crane bring the body out to shore. That’s where I stopped. Funerals and cranes just don’t mix.
My Grandmother passed a way three years ago. She had been in the hospital for a bit and I had been going back to the Boston area to visit. The last time I saw her she had been sleeping for over 24 hours. The nurses called her unconscious.
My mother said I should say my goodbyes and tell her I love her and give her a kiss.
Then she stood there and watched me.
“Mom, I need a minute. I feel funny”
“OK OK I’ll go in the hall but give her a kiss”
“I will! Just let me, you know, get used her being not awake”
My mother left the room.
I talked a little to my grandmother and leaned in to give her a kiss on the forehead but I couldn’t reach her forehead from that side of the bed so I turned to go to the other side of the bed and saw my mother peeking her head in.
“Did you kiss her?”
“Not yet, I gotta go to that side of the bed”
“Ok, well let me know. This hallway is a little busy. I’m getting in the way” then her head disappeared.
I did appreciate her coaxing because I had never been in a situation like this before and wasn’t really sure what to do.
I got to the other side of the bed and was trying to think of something to say. The PERFECT thing when I heard my mother psssssssssssst at me.
I turned to see her in the doorway with her keys in her hand. “Did you kiss her?”
“Mom, you are stressing me out”
“Fine, but we have to leave by 5. Visiting hours shut down” she made a little face like “you understand the situation here?” and then she stepped out into the hall.
I heard her apologizing for getting in the way following by a heavy sigh of Jesus Christ!
In the end, I did kiss my grandmother on the forehead, as instructed.
She got what I would call a Traditional funeral. We got her the Grand Slam of coffins. It was white lacquer with all sorts of ornamental steel fixtures.
The turnout was impressive for an 89 year old woman. EVERYBODY loved the casket. I’ve been to at least a 20 wakes, I have never heard people fawn over the casket.
“Oh my God, look at this casket. It is stunning”
“Can I ask who makes it?”
“This reminds me of Elvis Presley for some reason”
Some guy even joked “I want to jump in!”
My grandmother would have liked that.
Thanks for listening!
Kendra is a stand-up comic living in Brooklyn where she owns a super comfortable bed. She spends most of her time wondering where the hell her sugar daddy is and hoping he didn’t settle.