Friday, June 24, 2011
Then the day got even tackier.
It all started back at the funeral home where the service was held. The family had given us no indication as to who was to go first in the car line-up for the procession to the cemetery. When the first car arrived, he said that he was an uncle to the woman that died and that her two sons should go before him. It all sounded pretty straight forward and simple. Until the next three cars came in and they all claimed to be sons. None of them could grasp the idea that their cars should be facing in the same direction as the hearse. After finally getting the first two lined up properly, the third wanted to squeeze his car between the second son's car and the uncle's car. The only way he could do that was to put it in there sideways. He was already upset about a number of things so we decided that it was good enough. So that made the second line of cars not-so-straight because they had to swerve around his car. It turned out to be a small service and I didn't need the space anyway, so it really was no big deal.
When it came time to have the service, I had to go around to all the cars that people were lounging in "having a smoke" and remind them that the service was starting. One proclaimed to me that they couldn't start without him. And I told him that they just did. Forty five minutes into the service, we still had people arriving. They actually looked shocked that they were late. We even had two guys show up as we were bringing the casket out to the hearse. During the service, I don't think there was any moment that at least one of the three doors leading into the chapel wasn't open. People could not seem to sit down and listen for more than a five minute period and everyone had to get up and say something. Even those that were too upset to talk.
We finally got everyone into their cars and proceeded to the cemetery. After the committal service in the chapel at the cemetery, two more guys showed up and wanted us to open the casket for them to see her one more time. We got authorization from her daughter and opened it up, one more time. We then closed it and took it over to the grave. This is where it got interesting.
Many members of the family followed us to the grave site. As we lowered the casket, they started to sing. It was very nice and touching. The family had rented an artificial casket spray for flowers to save money. As I was taking them back to the hearse, I was mobbed by people wanting to take a flower, either for themselves or to put on her casket in the grave. I fought them off pretty good and got the flowers to safety. While I was doing that, the cemetery workers lowered the lid to the vault on top of the casket. The woman's brother then stood over the grave with an open bottle of whiskey (obviously had been sampled) and announced "One more for the road sis!" and poured about a quarter bottle on top of the vault. The woman's daughter (on the opposite side of the grave) yelled "OH NO YOU DON'T!" with a dive across her mothers open grave and sent her uncle and his whiskey flying. She then jumped down on top of her mother's vault weeping, trying to mop up the whiskey from the top of her cement vault with the fabric of her dress. We helped her back out of the hole and she sat for several more minutes with her feet dangling inside, crying. After a while she was able to stand up and finally people started to return to their cars.
This was all on a day when I had been up since the morning before, worked all night, took my dad to an appointment in the morning and then did this service, only to return to work that night. You just got to shake your head in disbelief.