The Funeral Diaries, Part 2
Before I get going on this one, a word on the citizens of Hamilton: They are not very attractive. Now I live in the SMT, and it was a running gag during my high school days that there are some ugly people in this town, but everyone in that burg looks like they should be living in the sewers with Callisto. Seriously, it's disturbing. I see more hot girls in a typical day at work than I did in a week up there, and I work in a frigg'n comic book store.
This'll be relevant later. Promise. Now back to the point.
We held the funeral service for my grandmother on Monday. It was an open-coffin service, and the makeup job they did was incredible. It's a cliche, but she really looked like she was just sleeping, as opposed to when my dad died and the makeup was a weird shade of orange. I guess they were trying to give him a tan to go with the Hawaiian shirt and jeans we buried him in, but it just came out all wrong.
It was one of those eulogies where the rev talked way more about Jesus than the person who actually died, but it was lovely and Ruby would've loved it. Even the slide show. Still, it made me wonder whether the entire concept of an afterlife is based around making ourselves feel better when someone dies. It's not a new idea, but it's one that I found myself mulling over quite a bit when I wasn't staring at the assembled mourners in slack-jawed shock.
I can tell you: There's nothing more sobering than having a church full of cousins come down from the hills and realizing that your family is far more redneck than you'd previously hoped.
But see, here's the thing. While the church was filling up with a parade of well-meaning but aesthetically-challenged Hamiltonians, including this one guy with a severe coif that looked like a silver-white head-fin, I found myself in one of the weirdest situations in my life. For one, I was mistaken for my mother's husband four times over the course of the evening. Now my mom gave birth to me when she was thirty-one, thus making her an entire Scott older than me. We were able to convince some folks, but I guess that's what you get when you live six hundred miles away from the family.
(Similar thing happened at dad's funeral: Sarah, who lived with Dad at the time, got all the sympathy, I got shifty looks and the occasional question as to just who I was.)
Oddly enough, the rednecks--while they were rough--weren't the worst of it. When crazy third cousin Bobby-Sue comes down from Appalachia with a home perm, a jaw wired shut from a barfight, and a pocketful of photographs to show my mom while she's recieving condolences next to the coffin, she at least has the excuse of a poor upbringing. But some people...
What I'm getting at here is that there was a girl at the funeral (my aunt's best friend's daughter) dressed like Paris Hilton. Now to her credit, she was dressed like Paris Hilton would be if she was attending a funeral: black mini-skirt, white t-shirt, and a black sweater tied at her midriff. And here's the best part: She wasn't the worst-dressed mourner.
No, that honor goes to my 15 year-old cousin Craig. It's important to note at this point that after I wrote a column about a family Christmas for my old writing gig a few years ago, my mother expressly forbade me from mentioning certain incidents involing his side of the family in writing. Due to her grief, however, she forgot to put such a disclaimer on the funeral.
Which was great for me, because if I couldn't tell you guys that he went to his grandmother's funeral in a cherry-red pimp suit I might just frigg'n explode. Man, oh, man. It was a thing of mind-wrenching beauty. Bright red and checked, complete with a red silk tie, candy-striped shirt, red socks, and, so help me God, red alligator shoes. Any other time I would've reversed my opinion on the guy right there and then, because out of context, it was a sweet set of threads (the godawful shirt aside). But at a funeral? Even I have some kind of internal social ruleset that goes: "Hey, bro. Not the time."
It was so out of place and... and... red that I couldn't stop looking at it through the whole ceremony, even while I was trying to comfort my mother. It went way beyond the train-wreck quality and into something not unlike an Escher painting, an endless well of red that I felt like I was being sucked into for the entire four hours.
IT WAS BRIGHT. RED.
Now the sad thing about it is, Craig was very close to Ruby, and I know it was breaking him up inside, but when he cried during the eulogy, all I could think was "Holy crap, he's making his face match the suit!"
Next: The Burial