Is it good luck if it rains at your funeral?
On May 19, 2017, my great, great, great Aunt Lucy died in her sleep. She was in her mid-80’s, and had been fighting the good fight for quite sometime. Alzheimer’s had taken hold of her years ago, and unfortunately (though no one in my family wants to admit it) her daughter seemed determined to help ease her into the grave at every chance she had. The same daughter who put on a worthy performance today at the service. It’s okay, God was watching like always. What I had expected to be a nice, albeit sad, gathering, was anything but. It was actually a hot mess. Worse than a hot mess. But then again, this is my family we are talking about, and I don’t know why expected anything more from them…
Let’s backtrack to over the weekend when she passed away. No one called me, or extended relatives in Ohio –I learned today, and told me. My mother, overhead my father talking about it, and called me. This isn’t even her aunt, and she told me. Now it could be that I’m already unusually emotional and petty feeling, but this seriously rubbed me the wrong way. Because despite them not telling me, I knew I was expected to be there today. Which I would have been regardless, my great-great-great aunt was one of the few members of my family I actually enjoyed seeing. My mother attempted to justify that it’s because I have ‘distanced myself from everyone’… which I can admit I have, but with very good reasons. [I will save the glory details for another post, but let’s just say I grew tired of being constantly outed as being the black sheep. Once I got sick, the less negativity around me was better…] I didn’t see it that way, considering that even though I wasn’t on speaking terms with them last year, I still told them that R’s brother had been killed. Which reminds me, last year when my great-great grandma died… NO ONE TOLD ME then either. My mother did, again, not even her grandma.
Imagine everyone’s surprised looks when I walked into the funeral home. I may have let my petty slip out and said that ‘Thankfully my mom told me.’
“Where is Em?” Well it’s nice to see you too… But Em is at home, because she is 3 and is not going to sit down and behave during a funeral service. I’ve been there, done that. I am so happy that no one asked where R was, not like they don’t already know we are splitting up, because my grandma can tell everything she doesn’t need to tell, but I’m sure it would have been followed with remarks of ‘This is why you shouldn’t have married a white man.’ Or some other ignorant racist bullshit. And, like I said, my level of petty is unusually high right now, so I probably would have responded with, ‘Yeah well at least I was married… how many other people in this room can say that?’
The service starts. We’re ushered in, and I see my great-great-great Aunt lying in her coffin, even more frail than the last time I saw her, which I didn’t think was even possible. I felt weird not crying like everyone else. I was sad don’t get me wrong, but I had the same feeling when my father was knocking on death’s door. I guess because it was expected? She was old and sick, and had been for awhile… The officiator began speaking, and well things just went downhill from there.
He either couldn’t read, or his mind was so out of it that he just kept stammering. He messed up the order of the service multiple times. But his truly defining moment was during his eulogy. He said he was starting with Romans 8:1-4, and we could follow along if we so chose to.
Romans 8: 1-4 Life Through the Spirit
8 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a] free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh,[b] God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.[c]And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Somehow though… he got lost along the way because he went on about this for a good 20 minutes. And nothing he was saying was about this scripture… then he went off and made it into a political moment. Saying that the election should remind us that we are never truly free from evil until we die… I shifted uncomfortably in my seat, like Oh dear God, please do not let this go where I think it’s going. I can not deal with that again. Nope not today Satan. Luckily it didn’t, and he went off talking about his own late wife. Then he talked about Jews, how that played a part, I have no idea, at this point I was just trying to keep up and figure where exactly he was going with this. Back to talking about his late wife, stammering and stuttering, then he said he was going to read from the book of Hebrews… I didn’t even bother to keep up at this point. I was just like WOW… this is… quite the service.
The service ended, and as we were walking out, my Aunt was holding one of my cousin’s toddlers, and said “I wish I had a great niece.” Hmm… you know it’s funny I thought you did. But I guess because Em is half white she doesn’t count? Or am I just taking that the wrong way? I don’t think I am… but you know, I kept my mouth shut. I figured it was in everyone’s best interest.
And once again, because communication is not a strong point in my family unless it’s to gossip, half the people went to the burial, and the other half went to the church for lunch. I hate to admit that I was okay missing the burial. It was cold, and raining, and my body was already aching. Standing outside was not sounding very appealing. Finally everyone was there, and I thought just maybe everyone was going to act civilized. Nope.
First, there were the “family friends” who crashed the funeral lunch. But wait, there’s more. All these creepy, pervy, looking fresh out of jail (I’m sorry, is that a bad stereotypical way to describe them?) old men were trying real hard to hit on me and my younger sister. And it seemed like it was ONLY US they were talking to. All in our faces while we’re trying to eat.
“Me and your daddy go way back…” That’s nice. “Yeah why didn’t you tell me you had two beautiful daughters?” Because why did you need to know? “Yeah you can call me Bo, but my real name is Larry.” I don’t care if you want me to call you Jesus, just please leave me alone. I’m trying to eat and you’re ruining my appetite, and I’m just really not interested.
And I will be checking my wallet when I leave this table, and no one is leaving if something is missing…
But, like I titled this… It’s not a family gathering until shit really hits the fan. And it did. Between my cousin and her mother. OVER A PIECE OF PIE. Yes, folks you read that correct. OVER A PIECE OF PIE.
From what my cousin said, there was a prior conversation about their train tickets, and how my cousin didn’t want to talk about it then. She said she asked her several times to just stop bringing it up, which I guess is why her mother then asked for a piece of pie. My cousin slid the pie over to her, and she just flipped shit. I have never been more happy to be sitting at another table in my life. It becomes some Real Housewives Reunion shit when my family goes at it. My cousin slammed her hand on the table and yelled for her to just shut up. You could hear a pin drop as everyone turned to see what happened. My cousin got up and stormed out crying, my mother went out after her… meanwhile my cousin’s mother just kept yelling her nonsense about how ungrateful of a daughter she was, and blah blah blah. It should be worth mentioning, she’s a crackhead (and I can say that because it’s true she didn’t raise my cousin) and much like my father, claims to be Parent of the Year, when they are so far from it. Speaking of my father, he turned in his seat to instigate and I literally told him to keep his mouth shut. He tried to play dumb and I said this is not the place or time for that nonsense.
After a few minutes, my mother returned, grabbing my cousin’s food and her kids and taking them into a separate room. I followed for other reason than to get away from being hit on. You could still my cousin’s mother going on and on with her nonsense. Everyone in there, cosigning it. Family is great isn’t it? We locked the door to the room to keep from things escalating anymore. My mother went out briefly and while she was gone we heard knocking on the door. I got up to open it and no one was there. I asked my cousin if she heard the knocking and she said she did. We like to think it was our great-great-great Aunt trying to show herself one last time.
The voice of calm and reason like she had been her entire life.
I feel bad that a day that was supposed to be spent remembering such a kind woman, was tarnished with such stupidity and nonsense. I’m sure she would have been turning over in her grave if she had known what had happened today. This is one of the last pictures I have of her, from before she got Alzheimer’s and no longer wanted her picture taken. It was at my baby shower three years ago. We sent her a Christmas card every year with an updated picture of us and Em. She may not have always remembered who I was, or that I was old enough to have a child, but her face lit up with joy every time she saw us. She was one of the only people who accepted R into the family, despite him being white. And that in itself means so much, considering the time she grew up in. As I said, she was always the voice of calm and reason, and holidays will no longer be the same without her or her pies. I know that she is in a better place now, away from the negativity and drama this family brings with it.
Until we meet again… Rest in peace Aunt Lucy. You will be forever loved and missed.