Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Humor: Death

I am sure that death is not funny to the family that just lost a loved one, but unless they are of the direst of humans, they want nice stories told by friends at the funeral and some can be really funny. It makes us think back to the pleasant times of his or her life. Our family is a bit over-the-top when it comes to humor; no, those are not the right words - probably freakish would better describe us. Of course we don't mean to disrespect the dead, but we just see everything from a different point of view.

We learned early on that we should not go to the viewings. This started when Aunt Bessie wanted to check out the palm of Cousin Joe to see if she could pin-point his death from his hand markings. True, he was already dead, but she was learning to read palms and wanted to know what to look for in live people's hands so she could make accurate predictions. Back in that day, the funeral director had placed the hands nicely crossed on the deceased chests, so she just had to turn it over and peek. Since Cousin Joe was no longer in Rigor, the funeral director had stapled his hands to his shirt so they wouldn't stray during the viewing, imagine Aunt Bessie's surprise when she pulled the hand up, turned it over and ripped his shirt.

She was not to be deterred and checked his palm only to find no marks indicating a death date, so now she had to fix the shirt somehow because soon others would be coming to the viewing. The hands would not stay in place; they would slide off taking the stapled shirt piece with them exposing his chest. She thought for awhile and took a couple of her hat pins and her shoe. She placed the hands properly and then pounded the hat-pins through the hands into the chest to hold them in place (I forgot to mention we are also an innovative family).

The hands stayed in place and she went on her way. The rest of the family thought that the two pearled pin-heads in the middle of his hands were some sort of decoration and a few even complimented the funeral director on his choice of decor since Cousin Joe's birthstone was a pearl. My mother was a little girl at the time and told us this story many times during our growing up years - always before a funeral, and always laughing her head off at the antics of old Aunt Bessie. Hence none of us kids can go to a viewing without laughing at the body lying there because we always see poor Cousin Joe with his hands pinned to his chest and a frustrated Aunt Bessie with a shoe in her hand.

We were happy to see cremation becoming more popular, but it really doesn't matter; we still envision Cousin Joe and Aunt Bessie at every funeral we attend, we laugh until we cry - every time, and still wonder about the funeral director and what he thought of the appearance of the pearled hat pins in Cousin Joe's hands.

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