How to ruin a funeral (a short manual)

I’m sure in the annals of family gatherings, there is someone who has made a bigger scene at a funeral than me. Maybe some person out there – off his or her medication – stormed in just as the preacher’s description of the loved one’s entrance into heaven was building to a crescendo and screamed, “Dammit, Mom! I told you Dad promised his sequined underpants to ME!”

Well, that wasn’t my approach. I took a more medically-centered angle. It went a little something like this:

1. Insist your chemo side effects aren’t “that bad” and promise that you’ll be able to prop yourself up no matter what occurs.

2. Ride in a car for 90 minutes and puke immediately upon arrival.

3. Become so dizzy and disoriented your mom, dad and sister have to babysit you non-stop during the pre-funeral lunch.

4. Arrive at the sanctuary, insist on an aisle seat and lose track of every person you came in support of, including your own husband.

5. 15 minutes into the service, jump up and run out because the 10,000 lyrics flashing across on the overhead projector are making you quite vomit-ish.

6. Spend the rest of the service lying on the couch in the ladies’ restroom, barely able to lift your head and making other people cry due to your sad, sorry state.

Alright, alright, alright. I probably didn’t ruin the funeral, but I wasn’t helping anything. I went mainly to support the people I love and ended up having to have way more than my share of support. Thank goodness my family was there to take care of me.

There were loads of people there. Loads and loads. And it was a “celebration of life” service. Had I not been feeling extremely green, I probably would have liked it … as far as funerals go. Russ deserved a loving send-off with everyone he knows there to salute him – and I think it got it.

He was a man who had lived half a dozen lives. I think I could have known him another 15 years and still never have heard all of the stories he had to tell. It was great to get him talking – you always heard something new and amazing. He was a veteran of WWII – fighting in the Pacific Rim, island hopping. He had the craziest war stories, although he never mentioned it unless prompted. He had a couple of different careers and served for a while as a firefighter not far from where we live now. He worked full-time until he was 80! EIGHTY!

His father and older brother died in a flu epidemic, if you can imagine that! His mother eventually remarried and he later got a sister and a brother out of the deal. I remember once Troy saying that Russ was probably such a good stepfather because Russ himself had been a stepson. I always figured that was true. Russ’ family are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet in your lives – all really good people. So, they must have had really great role models in their young lives.

Russ was really devoted to Troy’s mom – completely treated her like gold. He was a very calm person, too. I saw him a few times when I thought he probably should have been smacking people, but he would just quietly state his position and maybe leave the room. I’m not sure his voice had a “loud” setting! He had a great sense of humor, too. I’m sorry for us we won’t have him around and I’m really sorry for Colleen. I wish he could have lived until 100!

Author: rosie

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