Death is never easy, no matter who you are, who they are, or where you live. However, there is something uniquely special about the South, and death, dying and funerals. I hate to say in my life span I have attended way more funerals than I care to think about, as I am sure many of you have. But there is something about a good funeral.
So here is the deal, funerals make for interesting conversation. I remember stories of people sitting up with the dead, actually bringing them home and sitting up with them all night, which begs the question, “Where are they going?” If they do get up to go I don’t want to be there! Seriously can you just imagine sitting in the front parlor maybe hitting a bit of the hooch and all of sudden Uncle Earl pops up and says I’m blowing this place!
Here’s the other tradition I don’t get, viewing a body. Why? And when one is viewed does the viewer have to say, “Oh don’t they look good?” No. They don’t look good, they look dead! Then they dress them up and for those that wore glasses during their days on earth they put the glasses on them. What? First of all most funeral homes close the dearly departed eyes, correct? So who sleeps in their glasses on purpose and secondly what the heck are they looking at? Up people’s noses…really help here. After we have Uncle Earl’s glasses on what are we going to have him wear? Now, I get men wearing suits but today it has become acceptable to dress the dearly departed in anything. I guess I am ok with that especially if it makes the family feel better. I have heard of everything from a tuxedo to a favorite sports jersey to a good pair of overalls. For women, I have to think a gown is best that is just my opinion and a family decision to make. However, since I won’t be looking, it just doesn’t matter much to me.
Good music and food are both southern musts at a funeral. Two very important pieces of the ”homegoing” experience. I like gospel music, I like it a lot. I think good gospel music is most soothing during the service. I also think it can be mixed up a bit with contemporary music or music that soothes the family in some way. Plus you have to have good music to break up the preaching, because we all know that Brother Jim-Bob may need a break as the spirit just might overtake him. Help us all if that happens.
Finally the food. There is nothing like a good funeral to bring out the casseroles. And fine church ladies can make a casserole. So after we lay poor Uncle Earl in his forever resting place, we all know it is time to eat…and eat. I am convinced after the passing of Uncle Earl that you can’t find a jar of mayonnaise or a can of cream of mushroom soup for miles because we all know that in order to make a fine casserole one needs a big helping of mayo and cream of mushroom soup. Oh and fried chicken…you have to have fried chicken. In the South it is a well known fact food is good for the soul. The living Soul.
Let me conclude by saying I am in no way trying to make light of death. The loss of a loved one is most devastating, I know. But down here South of the Mason Dixon, funerals are an art form, an experience, a story, and might I say legend.
Mama, I will see you at the Ballpark!