Conversations at a Funeral

13 Jul

This week, we buried the father of my good friend. His death was expected, but that did not lessen the grief of the family and friends. The visitation and funeral were held in what I believe is our town’s best funeral home, housed in a stately manor that was the home of the Confederate Governor of Tennessee. He never took office because Union troops took Nashville rather quickly.

I have always found the actions of people at visitations and funerals interesting. I tend to sit back, observe and eavesdrop on conversations; and, in the process, I discover something interesting. There will almost always be an old lady who says, “It’s an awful good turnout.” It’s like she is talking about the crowd at  a ballgame or something.

Since I brought up sports, I should mention that it is the main topic of conversation among the men at a visitation. What’s going to happen this season? Are you going to watch the game tonight? There is also talk of work and travel. A constant line is “I haven’t seen you in forever.” On and on, the conversations go, but there is one topic that is hardly mentioned – DEATH.

The funeral service even stays away from death. The preachers talk about “the next life” and “everlasting life”. There is talk of this not being the end but rather the beginning. I realize this is done to comfort everyone. People at visitations avoid the topic of death because they are facing it at that very moment. Family and friends don’t want to hear about the ending of a loved one’s life, so people talk about the opposite.

Heck, I did it myself. My friend and I talked about funny stories from our past. The best one I had actually forgotten. In high school, we played a lot of backyard football and basketball at his house. Just picture a bunch of nerdy, non-athletic kids pretending like they could do something without falling all over themselves. His driveway was concrete, and that is where we were playing basketball.

One of us nerdy, non-athletic kids (not me) wanted to be like Mike and threw a behind-the-back pass. Unfortunately, the kid he was throwing it to had never heard of a behind-the-back pass and caught the ball with the bridge of his nose. The same bridge that supported his glasses. As you can imagine, glass, metal and blood went everywhere. As we stood in stunned silence, the bloody kid bent over and kept saying over and over, “I’m going to bleed on your driveway! I’m going to bleed on your driveway!”

There was another story from when were in college. My friend and I were picking up some girls to take to a party, and they answered the door wearing nothing but towels. However, I won’t bore you with the details.

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