People often talk about funny things that happen in and around funerals. The tension is sometimes so high that the comedy is all the more welcome. Take for instance the scene in Steel Magnolias, where Sally Fields character is in the middle of a dramatic meltdown over the death of her daughter and she says she’s so mad she just wants to hit someone until they feel as bad as she does. Olympia Dukakis grabs Shirley Maclaine and says, “Here, hit this!”
When DH’s grandmother died, my Father-in-Law was telling us before the funeral what a racket the funeral homes seemed to have, praying on the distress of family to spend more money. The family wanted to have the casket open as people filled the church, but closed during the service. The price to have someone walk out and close the casket was $100.00. So when two people came out to close the lid of the casket, my FIL who was seated in front of us turned around and looked at my husband and I, all three of us smiled, and then began snicker. We all knew what the other was thinking. Were two people still $100.00, or did the price just go up to $200.00? People stared at us because they thought we were being disrespectful.
Since my father passed away, I’ve had many questions. I’ve spent every day crying off and on trying to cope. For the last week and a half I’ve been trying to get the coroner on the phone to ask questions about some of the information on the death certificate. Yesterday I finally got him on the phone, and had perhaps the first laugh since all this started. We talked about the pertinent information that I had wanted, then the conversation turned to how they had found my father. He had been loading his truck to go out of town when he presumably went inside to get something and had died.
I knew he’d had sunglasses on when he had been found, because it was on the report, and the funeral home had told me that. But I’d assumed they had been removed–after all, his watch had been laying on the counter when we had arrived. The process was to take him to the funeral home first, and then the coroners office picked him up from there and brought him to the place where they would do an autopsy if indicated.
The coroner is explaining all this to me when he says, “So when your father came in, we removed everything to do an observation–to make sure he hadn’t been shot, stabbed or bashed on the head.” He paused a moment, then said, “Did he wear prescription glasses?”
“Yes, but I think he had sunglasses on when he was found.”
“Yes, he did. I had to remove them to examine his eyes, and his face.”
“Remove them?” I asked blankly. “He still had them on? Like in Weekend at Bernies?” I said it before I could even give it half a thought. All that time, from the moment he died, being picked up by the fire department, taken to the mortuary, then picked up by the coroner and taken there–literally for days, he’d had his dark sunglasses on. The coroner began to laugh. So did I.
“You know,” I said after the laughter subsided, “One of his friends told me that he bugged my dad about getting one of those emergency response things for when you live alone.”
The coroner snorted at this. “Cops don’t do that. We know that when it’s our time, it’s our time.”
“That’s exactly how he felt about it,” I agreed. And I silently thought that he would have found it amusing that he went out with his sunglasses on, too.