Even though Ive told this story many times, I always get asked to tell it again. So without further ado . . .
Many many years ago when I was married to the starter husband one of his oldest friend’s brother passed away. We of course attended the funeral, and while at this point in my life I had been to a funeral or two and growing up in the South meant I’d been around rednecks my whole life, nothing and I do mean NOTHING quite prepared me for what I would see that day…and Ive seen some shit!
As we made our way into the funeral home room where the funeral was to take we were met with Elvis music. Not the many hymns he had recorded but rather “Jailhouse Rock.”
That should have been my first clue.
Then I see the wife (who the deceased had been separated from for some time) by the casket practically throwing herself into it and whaling like Ive never heard. All the while she’s doing this the man that she’d been living with since the separation was sitting in the front (family member’s) row checking his watch like he just couldn’t wait to get out of there.
The deceased was wearing pretty much the usual redneck/good ole boy attired – Budweiser ball cap, Harley t-shirt and blue jeans. In the casket and around the back edges were unopened beer bottles, packs of Camels .. you know, the usual stuff a good ole boy would need to carry him into the afterlife.
Then IT happened. . .
The decedent’s mother entered from a side room looking every inch like Dusty Rhodes in lipstick.
She took one look around, zeroed in on the “grieving” widow and took off in a run that would shame any Kentucky Derby winner. She pounced on the widow knocking her back in the chair leaving her sprawled on her back, feet in the air and no underwear. NOT a sight anyone wants to see!
Fists were flying, hair was being pulled, words were being exchanged .. and none of them were of condolences.
Being the now redneck brawl that is was, attendees that were sitting in their chairs were on their feet. Some were screaming encouragement, some were joining in on the free for all.
The poor little funeral director man was wringing his hands, muttering and trying in vain to stop the free for all. I just knew at any minute he was gonna get sucked under all of it and get the stuffing ripped out of him for his troubles.
All the while this was happening Mom and the widow were rolling around, punching air, each other and sometimes the casket. The casket was rocking on its base threatening to topple the dead out and roll him down the aisle like the meatball on top of spaghetti. And the flowers that had been so artfully arranged around the casket were now laying in tattered heaps all over the floor.
This is when it happened – I burst into uncontrollable laughter. I just couldn’t help it; watching it all play out in front of me got the better of me.
The starter husband proceeded to try to tell me how it wasn’t appropriate to laugh at at a funeral (as if what we were seeing was appropriate?)
As I left the room to retreat to our car Elvis was singing “You Ain’t Nothing But A Hound Dog.”
I didn’t even dare attend the graveside services or the home gathering after it all.
I’m not going to lie though – sometimes I wonder if the second and third match of the day would have been better or worse than the first.
. . . God, how I miss the South . . .