Thursday, June 16, 2005

Funeral fetish? Just more funeral fodder

Sigh… Sigh again… The life of the church lady is morphous. Ever-changing, chameleon-like at times. Where does one get training for such an entity as the working life of a church lady, you might say.. … After researching University campuses around the nation, and then the world, it would appear that there is no such major as CL. BA, BS ( lots of that going around) PhD, but CL? Not to be found by this reporter. Maybe the chronicles should suffice as on-line training. Hmm, now there’s a thought.

Back to the topic at hand. Although after hearing about many of the fun and exciting adventures of living the church lady life, what would you say could possibly be more fun than organizing a funeral? What? Think hard. Lots of calls to be made, people to offer empathetic vibes to, meals to setup, bulletins to copy, ushers to arrange, paraments to place, …. What… Well, I’m here to tell you what. The only thing more fun than planning a funeral is unplanning one. Yessiree’ changing the day or time is more fun than playing telephone, but it has the same effect. Say, for instance, you speak to a committee member.
“But I thought it was Friday at 6?”
“Yes, I know. So did we, but the family has decided to move it to Wednesday at 4, because the burial suit won’t be ready from the cleaners til that morning and apparently, Fred was very specific in his will about what he wanted to wear. He insisted on wearing his Cubs jacket. The family felt that he had been sick for so long, it was the least they could do. They said he always felt better in that jacket.”
“oh. Okay. Well, I’ll tell my people then. Wednesday at 4. Won’t that interfere with the Creedance Choir rehearsal? They always practice in the sanctuary at that time.”
“ Well, we’ve convinced the family to incorporate the choir of 85 into the service. They’ll be practicing and also singing Fred’s favorite hymns.”
“ Did Fred have any favorite hymns? He hadn’t come to church in 23 years, and I thought ever since he lost his hearing, he had become interested in rap music.”
“ Funny you should say that, as a matter of fact, the choir will be doing a rap interpretation of their songs.”
“ Gosh. I can’t imagine How Great thou art in rap, or Just as I am. This should be interesting.”
“ Listen, Mrs. Albermarle, I’ve got to call the others on the list, so I’d better go.”
The day flew by, calls came and went, email updates flew across the internet highway. Then-
“ Is it true? I just heard that Fred was clawed to death by a bear cub who had escaped the Asheboro Zoo!! And his funeral has been postponed because they haven’t located all of his limbs yet. Is it true?”
Then-
“ I hate to bother you church lady, but CNN is reporting that there’s a rap band gone missing and they are all suspects in an abduction of a non-participating member of our church, they found some sheet music, a hearing aid and a torn up cubs jacket over on highway 48. The cameras flashed a picture of our front yard, the front yard of the parsonage on TV. Is it someone from our church?”

This Church lady has learned that the fewer voices in the pot the better.

Funerals are an animal all their own. They bring out the best and worst of people. Some people just need an outlet to sigh. They need a reason to release. I’ll be typing away at my desk and I’ll hear the footsteps in the hallway as someone approaches the information white board.
“Belva Sprat. I’ll be. Sighhhhhh.” Then off they’ll go.
“ Oh, look. Craig Asphalt. Didn’t he have that freak appendix accident?” sighhhhhh,.
“ MMM, mmm. MMM. Sighhhhhhhhhh.”
Sometimes, when it seems like tensions are high around the halls, I will sporadically add a pretend person to the white board in the hallway- just to offer passers- by an opportunity to let a little bit of their stress go. Haven’t had complaints yet. Actually, morale seems pretty high right now. And we’ve had 4 funerals in the last four weeks. I wonder if there’s a connection somewhere.

On another note, one would think that a funeral is not an occasion to be impatient or self-minded. And so it is with great dismay that I share this tidbit.. a funeral came up……

I called ushers to come in; on this particular funeral planning escapade, I had a very hard time finding people available . For a while I thought I may have to don a suit and just give it a go. I figured I could add ushering to my job description or resume.I have to admit that I don’t know how to tie a man’s tie, and actually, I felt lucky when I didn’t’ have to pitch hit usher. In the course of my phone calling I came upon a very irritated usher-potential.
“ No, I CANNOT usher that funeral. ……Really…I might say that if you could just give me a little more notice next time, I may be able to rearrange my schedule. I really need more notice than this.”

More notice? More notice? Okay. Let me just mention that to the deceased. How careless to die without any forewarning to those who may be involved in carrying his cedar shavings down the aisle.