The Funeral That Went Bad – Response “Unplanned Madness”The following post is in response to the article we posted last week titled “The Funeral That Went Bad”. This response was emailed to me by member and guest writer, Randy McCormick.
There is sadness in the story of the ?control freak? minister, and it has NOTHING to do with the funeral director. Many thanks to the CD member who shared it.
My story had a somewhat different ending. I attempted to post it as a comment, but was reminded by the ?Computer Gods? that it was too long to be a comment ? so here it is ? for what it is worth …
It was planned as a fairly ‘cookie-cutter’ Roman Catholic funeral. The family approached me as we were about to walk into the ‘Imposing-By-All-Standards’ church that their father, Bob’s best friend, Tom wanted to say a few words. I directed them to the priest who, agreed. This particular priest normally does not allow eulogies in church, but the family were prolific in both their regular attendance and financial support so I presume that influenced his last minute decision.
There were myriad arrangements of imposing floral tributes and, at the end of the liturgical service; the priest took a seat in the area behind them.
The eulogy began innocently enough, but it was soon evident that were in for ‘one of those’ events, so everyone settled back to listen. The speaker was not Roman Catholic nor did he have any knowledge of what was appropriate in church. It was soon evident that the ‘Church of the Holy Ale’ was where he spent his Sundays. The first hint of disaster began with a story of how his friend met ‘the little woman’, the now ‘appropriately black-clad widow’ in the front pew.
? … Yup, I’ll never forget the times we had to sneak home with the girls because …….’s father was a Catholic and back in those days Bob sure hated Catholics … he used to say that the only good thing about them was the confession because they could start sinning all over again each week … ?
The priest?s face coloured.
The family smiled nervously.
Five minutes later he was about to wind up as he shared the way in which he would always remember his best friend, Bob.
?… Yup, I?ll never forget those camping trips up at the cabin … drinkin? beers and singin? songs … and when all the girls had gone to bed, all us guys haulin? it out and pissin? out the campfire.?
By this time the priest, whose face was now the colour of the iris arrangement, had sunk so low in his chair that his ?black-and-whiteness? was all but undetectable behind the floral mountain. Alas, it was not over…
?I want all the guys who have ever been part of the campfire ritual to stand up with me now and let?s sing ?Our? campfire song.?
Two immediately stood, soon to be joined by another half dozen.
The priest had disappeared behind the flowers. No sign of the priest.
In their best ?drunken slur? they joined in their version of
?Shaaawwww me da waaaay ta go hawm ?
Ahmmm tared an I wanna go ta beddddd …
Hasd a liddle drink ………….etc?
As they sat down and the ?best friend? returned to his seat, all assembled in the ?packed house? wondered how the priest would handle the preceding situation. As he gathered himself from behind the floral mass, the widow stood and approached the microphone. Uh…Oh … here we go …
What followed was one of the most gracious thank you?s that I have ever heard. She acknowledged the manner in which Bob?s human-ness had been ?brought to life? in this moment of mourning and thanked Tom for reminding all assembled of his fun loving nature. As she was about to return to her seat, she hesitated, then went back to the mike … Uh…Oh … here we go …
?Oh, I almost forgot … Tom … I want you to speak to Father …… after the service … about joining up with ?Us Roman Catholics? … Bob did and he always claimed it was the best decision he ever made …?
The place erupted in laughter and applause.
The priest returned to the podium with a smile … his dignity restored … and invited everyone to join us at the cemetery … And a hearty ?Oh yes, and Tom, let?s meet later to iron out the details.?
What started out as a forgettable ?cookie-cutter? funeral was one that is still talked about to this day.
Whenever that particular priest and I are together we laugh about that day and the risks involved with last minute eulogy requests, but then he had listened to the family with his heart … and not just his ears and acknowledged that … this friends eulogy was important to their grieving process.
My hat is off to him for risking, although I have never since observed him authorizing anything but ?previously approved? eulogies … oh yes … and Tom and the priest have since become good friends and I wouldn?t be surprised if I were one day to see Tom in church on his own.
Yes, unplanned madness that had a happy ending.
Again ? I believe we all have stories and hope to see others posted here … Here in Vancouver, we are immersed in the magic of the Olympics, so it you are watching and see an old bald guy waving at the camera … that will be me … I was able to enjoy the feeling in the Olympic Village yesterday, and believe me when I say that that the feeling is the personification of hope and dreams … all wrapped up in one package. Good luck to all the athletes ? even if we don?t have any snow… ahem (blush).