Thursday, November 30, 2017

Yes, We Add Fun to Funerals

We started innocently enough. My brother's urn was engraved with some of Bruce Springsteen's lyrics from Born to Run. It was suitable for my brother, who lost his legs a few years ago, to have "We're gonna get to that place where we really want to go and together we will walk in the sun... Baby, we were born to run."  It was sweet and made us smile.

Ten days prior to the funeral I got an add in the mail for a company in England "Mr Stanley's" confectionery. Stanley is my brother's name. One of the candies is called Mr Stanley's Walking Sticks. . . . which cracked me up. I sent the photo to my sister and a few minutes later she had contacted the company in London and had them air-ship boxes of the Walking Sticks to her in time for the funeral. (funeral favors are a thing in our wacky family). 

As the day approached, we started to get some interesting texts from people to let us know they could not attend. Texting a funeral excuse: what you do when you are too chicken-shit to call.  Family members who do that seriously, are chicken shit. 

I will say that some were valid, VERY valid. One cousin, who flew 1200 miles just for the funeral two days before the service, took a day to check on her old home, fell down a flight of stairs, was knocked unconscious, got 10 stitches in her head and has a concussion.  She still tried to make it but the concussion would not allow her to stand up without puking. She had not seen my brother in 30 years and yet she still tried until doctors stopped her. That was a pretty good excuse. Then my husband was to fly up on the night prior to the services. Based laid plans were ruined by a smoking duffel bag at one of the airline gates. Orlando Airport was evacuated because of this smoking lithium battery incident and 26 flights were canceled, including my husband's. He waited at the airport 4 hours but next flight he could get on, going in the direction of NY, was at 8:30am the next morning, which meant he would miss the funeral. 

The day before the service we stopped for a snack at a pizza shop while waiting for my niece of arrive via Amtrak and on the wall of the pizzeria was a poster from the Stanislaus Food company. That is Polish for Stanley and our family is Polish. Stanislaus was my great-grandfather's name. Now this next thing is very interesting coincidence. You may or may not know this but I am a Starbucks customer of the 1st order. If I skip a few days they send out a search party. I have more stars than Hollywood Blvd. I am also an observant person and I know when new merchandise is on a shelf in Starbucks. Driving back to my sister's on the morning of the funeral, I stopped at Starbucks for a coffee. I was in that SAME Starbucks for the two days prior to that day. Waiting my turn each day, I studied the various items for sale on the shelves. New items were identified. Things like cups and mugs, pots and canisters. On that morning they suddenly had a *NEW* item which was introduced at THAT location on THAT day: the STANLEY.

I turned all the reasons for missing the services into a Family Funeral Excuse Bingo game. We jazzed up the real explanations and added some wild made up excuses, made the middle free space the bull shit square, and waited to see if excuses would win us a round of BINGO.  In the end, we missed BINGO because no one gave us the I've been Incarcerated excuse. However, we did win 4 corners when someone else had a death in their family that week and we could fill in the square for "copycat funeral." 

The day after the funeral my daughter and I went to Rye Playland amusement park without a mission. I just wanted to drive past a place where my brother spent very happy times. Stanley did horror make-up there at Halloween and he and his girlfriend and children performed several years at the Rye Playland fright nights every year. The paying guests could never figure out how he 'hid' his real legs during the act.

Well, in my bag, I had one of his prayer cards so I got out and left it on the windshield of the haunted hearse still set up at the entrance of the park from the recently ended-season. My thought is the wind will grab it and next season it will turn up again . . . in the haunted exhibit where Stanley used to perform his bit of 'man eating his own leg'. 

Stanley would have approved.

I was doing well food wise until the last evening in NY. Someone went out of their way to hurt me with such spite, the shock absorber in my brain couldn't handle it. Working to get back on track now. Stanley would approve of that, too.



16 blessings'mom said...

I am very sorry for your loss, and I also understand the "fun in funeral", and your brother would have wanted it that way. The Stanley in Starbucks: what a huge coincidence, wow. :)


Karen said...

Hi Jane,

I loved your post! Absolutely. I also look for signs from my departed and find them all the time.

Relapse & lapse happen. They do. So I'm glad you are good for today, your next meal, this hour, this minute. Food addiction is a beast. It really is.

I'm most likely to lapse after family dies. I has happened to me and it will happen to me in the future. I write this here to strengthen myself. Thank you for sharing. It will help me immensely in the future.

The new normal will come. Karen P.

Vickie said...

My grandfather carried a Stanley (thermos) to work, my whole life. Eating cereal at midnight and keeping candy in his pocket and that thermos are long time memories. I do not have his thermos. But I do have a Stanley, on a shelf in my pantry. I asked for it as a Christmas present, long ago. For the memory. I have used it many times.

So sorry for your loss. Sorry for all the funeral mix ups. That is upsetting.

Susan said...

Your family is awesome. I love the bingo game and the funeral favors! I just blogged about being off track for a couple of weeks. Must get back on! It is so easy to do. My condolences again for your loss.

RedPanda said...

I'm so sorry for your loss — and in awe of your family's sense of humour.

Vickie said...

I have wondered and wondered about you and your family. Hope things are smooth.

Vickie said...

How are things going for you and yours? I stop by here regularly, to check in with you.