Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Funeral, Part 3 - The Internment and How I Wanted to Whip Someone's Ass

The funeral service was perfect. I won't get into all the details of that because no one wants to hear about that, but I will say that the two preachers did a beautiful job, the flowers were lovely, no one acted a fool during the service and my aunt gave a eulogy that was eloquent, hilarious and perfectly described my grandfather and all the best things I remember about him like his white patent leather, zip-up, ankle boots and his insistence on the rules of card games. She talked about his garden where some of my life's best memories grew and were picked along with potato bugs and she made us all remember the fun we had in his pool many years ago. I know this may be strange to say but even though I was sad there were more times at this funeral that I found myself filled with an exquisite sense of joy and I felt over and over again that although my biological father is an asshole that he is just one insignificant person and does not represent the whole family at all and that I am very lucky to be related to all these wonderful people. I am very lucky to be Pop's oldest granddaughter.

After the service I was worried because it was now even hotter and there were too many old ladies that should not be standing in a cemetery. Bella and I went outside and I kid you not, it was 108 degrees and the humidity made it seem like 120. It was the kind of heat where you can't even hardly breathe. You just go outside and you're instantly soaked and your hair immediately wilts and looks awful for the rest of the day. Luckily Millpond is small and the old cemetery where the Hollands get buried is really walking distance from the church, except of course when its 108 degrees. We drove through town which is all old houses, past the armory, through what used to be called the "colored section" where people were barbecuing in their backyards and sitting on lawnchairs in spite of the heat. No one has AC, save for a few window units, so it's hot inside too and you may as well just be outside under a mulberry tree. We passed the house my great-grandparents used to live in and my elementary school where I lost the spelling bee and won the cakewalk. We passed a huge old Georgian style mansion, now surrounded by an unsightly chain link fence and I remembered how I wanted desperately to live there and always wondered who owned it. I asked. No one knew.

The Millpond Cemetery is very old. The town has been around since the 1700s, so there are graves there nearly that old and when I was a teenager and used to come home in the summers I liked to hang out in the graveyard and read the names. It's very peaceful. Millpond has a lot of old cemeteries that you can find in the woods, on the edges of fields and behind plantations way out in the country. My cousins and I loved exploring them. I've always thought old graveyards were beautiful.

This graveyard has a stone wall around it that is about waist high. I sat on it many times with my friends drinking Slice out of green cans and ripping bites off of Slim Jims when I was growing up. The edge of the graveyard where the Holland plot is faces the street which is lined with white, craftsman style bungalows all of which have tall trees in the front yards and big front porches. It's so quaint and lovely you could just cry looking at this street. The yards are wide and green with birdbaths and every porch has hanging flower baskets and windowboxes. The whole town is pretty much like this. I swear I will never reveal its location because if tourists knew about this place they would descend on poor little Millpond in droves and ruin it. The damned Super-Walmart outside of town did enough damage.

As we arrived for the internment I felt great satisfaction that this is where Pop would rest and I thought, I would like to be here too one day. One day VERY far away of course. But then some jackass had to ruin it for me.

We decided that because of the heat that the internment would be extremely brief and attended only by immediate family. This would relieve people of feeling like they had to be out in the hot sun. There was a small tent that we huddled under and the pastor said a few words and we started to say a prayer, but before we even got the first line said we hear from across the street the ring of a cell phone.

"Hey! I don't know. What are you doin'? No. I'm watchin' a funeral. There's a funeral goin' on across the street in the graveyard. Well I know it's hot. They just started. I can't see. I told you I can't see. I don't know who died. I didn't hear anything about anybody dyin'. Probably some old person or somethin' -"

Then the woman, for it was a fully grown woman acting like this, called inside to presumably her husband.


He did not know so the woman got back on the phone.

"I'm guessin' it was an old person. I see a bunch of old ladies standin' over there. Old people die everyday. At least they had a long life. You know, I never did think it was sad when an old person dies, just a young person. Ok. Ok. Uh-huh. Yeah. I have to go too. Ok. Mmm Hmm. Bye."

We tried to ignore this and go on with the prayer but I couldn't focus on the prayer. My mind was just focused on how badly I wanted to storm across that hot street and whip that woman's ass right in the middle of it. Honestly I could think of nothing else. I guarantee you that every single other person at the funeral with me was thinking the same thing and trying to act like they weren't. It was really appalling. I guess she thought we couldn't hear her, but a good rule to govern yourself by is to always act like other people can hear you.

I did not end up whipping this woman's ass. I think the main thing stopping me was the heat. It was just too hot to get into a fist fight. Also I had on high heeled Mary Janes that looked like tap shoes and they hurt my toes and heels and wouldn't do for a streetside brawl. Here is what I hope though. I hope that my grandfather, having to rest across the street will become a poltergeist and terrorize her. I hope he hides her car keys, throws her coffee cups all over her kitchen and takes the shape of a dark form and stands at the end of her bed at night and scares the ever loving crap out of her until she moves away. If none of that happens then I at least hope birds poop all over her car. Just something you know? Because you shouldn't be able to act like that and get away with it.

Oh, and as we were leaving the cemetery to go back to the church for the luncheon, I saw a gravestone with the name "Cleora Sipple" on it and I thought that was one of the best names I had ever seen. She died in 1907. I should have taken a picture, but that would have been very inappropriate of me. I want to write a story about a woman named Cleora Sipple.


JoeinVegas said...

I think Cleora might like having you write about her.

Anonymous said...

I think that we are supposed to come away from funerals with mixed feelings of sadness and joy. This is true if the person who passed was particularly memorable / witty/ quirky. Laughter and fond memories help to ease the pain of our loss.
I don't know you but I was certainly thinking of you during this difficult time in your life just because I've been there many times. Hang in there!

Missicat said...

Hmmm...trying to picture what a Cleora Sipple would look like. Very tall, thin, fond of wearing flowing, gauzy clothes? maybe....
The woman with the cell phone? Sooo deserved a whupping....

Hilary said...

Unless it's a particularly tragic death, it seems to me that funerals always do leave us with those highs as well as the lows. You tell a story so well. I'd love to read about Ms. Sipple.

Anonymous said...

Someone posted somewhere that they felt lucky they get to read what your write for free.

I concur.

Further, I hope that someday you realize that you are a wordsmith worthy enough to sell what you write.

I'll be the first one standing in line to buy it.

Thank you for this story.

the Bag Lady said...

Sheesh, some people ain't got no brought'ins up! How unfortunate that she was so thoughtless, and ruined the graveside service.

Cleora Sipple is an excellent name. Now I want to write about her, too! But you'll probably do a much better job.

Anonymous said...

Cleora was a wonderful Christian woman, high society for Millpond's standards. Cleora seemed little rough and cold on the outside but she had a softspot for her nephew Horace..OK go from there...

Anonymous said...

I like graveyards too.
Good for you for holding those good memories of your pop.
Cell-phone lady probably did deserve a smack. That's just wrong.

Eric said...

Lovely set of stories.
Last week my sister died tragically in a fire and in the midst of the grief and hassel of dealing with arrangements across the country i have found the sadness and humor of your stories rather timely and comforting.
Sorry for you loss

Wide Lawns said...

Oh my God Eric I am so sorry. I know you've been a reader for a long time and I read you too. I feel like I know you. I'm glad my stories have helped you feel better. Your sister and Pop are probably hanging out talking about us right now. I hope I havent said anything awful or insensitive about grief and loss and that I have only been a comfort and I hope you check back and read this comment to you.

Eric said...

Thanks I appreciate that

'..I read you too.' Oh so your the one :) I guess I will have to post something new

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