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Funeral Planning in a Crazy Family Is…Different

by Jenny Hansen

family funerals

If you’ve read about my family’s Almost X-Rated Garage Sales and Gang-Banging Chickens, you’d know we’re just a little bit…off-center.

I got all my humor from my mama, who was way funnier. My mama was a stitch. She passed away in 2004, at age 65, but her legacy lives on in our family.

The night she died, we all quibbled over her Xanax stash, knowing we’d need it to get some sleep before doing the million important details families have to get through when someone passes away. My brother (the Bag Whore) and I had lots of help but some of the duties just naturally fell to us.

We put my mom’s purse off for a day or so, but the time came to sort through it. When we got to her wallet, we found all these slips of paper with beautiful quotes on friendship. Of course, I cried, so my brother patted me and kept going through all the other stuff she had tucked in there.

All of a sudden, he elbows me and says, “Sis…check this out,” and hands me a stack of bright orange cards.

“What is it?” I sniffled, not reaching to take them.

“Just read it!”

I grabbed them, looked down, and burst out laughing (language alert here). In huge bold letters, they said:

If you f*ck like you park,
you’ll never get it in.

“Oh my Jesus. She has a whole stash of these things?”

“Obviously she’s putting these on people’s cars when they piss her off.” My brother snatched them back. “I could use these.”

When I spoke to the minister later that day, he asked if I’d made decisions about what to include in my mom’s service.

I was telling him about the beautiful messages we’d found when my brother started yelling from down the hall. “Are you going to tell him what ELSE you found in her wallet??!”

I covered the phone and yelled back. “No I’m not telling him! Are you crazy?”

I ignored all the choice comments from my Bag Whore brother and got back on the phone with the minister, apologizing for how loud my brother was.

His first words were, “So, you’re not going to tell me??”

I blushed so hard, I thought I’d faint. “I’d rather not. There’s cursing involved.”

“Oh, come on… Your mom was a spicy lady. I’d love to hear.”

Obviously he missed her as much as we did, so I told him and he busted a gut laughing.

My aunts were horrified when I relayed the conversation. At the same time, they both wailed, “YOU TOLD THE MINISTER??!” (They all live in a small town in mid-Missouri so I apologized and promised to mind my manners from there on out.)

Then we got to the funeral parlor…

Like most of the big events in my family, we all showed up to offer support. Aunts, uncles and cousins flanked my brother and I, along with my mom’s best friend. After my grandmother’s service the prior year, we assumed the place was used to the likes of us.

Bad assumption. The previous funeral director hadn’t shared with the new guy that we travel in packs during times of need. He looked at all 14 of us and said he’d be back with more chairs. With my brother and I on either side of Mr. Funeral Director, we sat in a circle and hashed out the service (which involves a lot of people “shouting it out” when they think of it).

When we got to the end, I said, “I know it might sound kind of morbid, but if any of you would like some of her ashes, you may have them.”

My cousin, Aaron asked, “So how many ashes are we talking about?”

Mr. Funeral Man looked like he’d swallowed a toad. “Um…well. Uh. They come in plastic bag inside a hard plastic case about this big by this big.” And he moved his hands to demonstrate a 10 x 14 x 4 inch bag.

My brother reared back, looking completely offended. “That’s it? That’s all we get?! She was a BIG GIRL!

The room went completely silent.
The funeral director’s mouth opened and closed like a guppy.
Then the snickers started…

They spread around the room until we were all laughing so hard we couldn’t stop.

My uncle came flying in from the restroom. “You guys need to CUT IT OUT. There’s people crying and grieving out there, and you’re in here laughing and carrying on.” He turned to the funeral director and shook his hand. “Thank you for your time. We need to go.”

He sent the lot of us a stern look that promised we’d be sorry if we didn’t STOP LAUGHING.

I swear, we tried. We just couldn’t stop.

We stumbled out of the funeral home, clutching our sides and gasping for breath, running for our cars so we could collapse in private. Then we all toddled off to lunch at my mom’s favorite burger joint and laughed some more.

Here’s what I know, all these years later: My mother watched us giggle our way through her funeral arrangements and, wherever she was, she LOVED it. I wouldn’t go back and change any of it. Well, except for keeping her here so she could make me laugh that hard in person.

Do you guys have funerals like ours, or are you a bit more dignified? Continue the discussion at the #SocialIn hashtag on Twitter or SocialInDC on Facebook!

~ Jenny
@JennyHansenCA

About Jenny Hansen

By day, Jenny provides training and social media marketing for an accounting firm. By night she writes humor, memoir, women’s fiction and short stories. After 18 years as a corporate software trainer, she’s delighted to sit down while she works.

When she’s not at her personal blog, More Cowbell, Jenny can be found on Twitter at JennyHansenCA or at Writers In The Storm.

© 2014 Jenny Hansen. All content on this page is protected by copyright. If you would like to use any part of this, please contact me at the above links to request permission.

photo credit: The Rocketeer via photopin cc


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