Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Winter, Storms, Greetings, Goodbyes Pt. 2

The funeral mass took place at the local Catholic church. I was a pallbearer, so I , and the others chosen for this duty, sat up front and to the right at the church. I sat next to a cousin who said maybe two words to me the whole time. Maybe it was because of old family grudges between our Moms, or maybe he was just uncomfortable with a long-haired Viking for a cousin...I don't know. I sit there in the church and feel very uncomfortable. I've always felt uncomfortable and uneasy in churches, and I'm not really sure why. Maybe I was killed by the Inquisition in a past life or something. Even as a kid, both my Grandmas had pictures of the Last Supper and such hanging on the walls, and these kind of freaked me out. So here I sit, with a gigantic crucified Jesus staring down on all of us, half expecting a buch of spear-waving Crusaders to come pouring out of the doors to round up the heathens.
Catholic functions are very well organized, I think to myself as the mass progresses. The priest says things and the Catholics in attendence respond and songs kick in at times, and the wine and wafers are brought out . I get a lot of dirty looks here in the church, for not joining in where the audience is supposed to, I guess, and especially for not coming up to partake of the Host. The guitar player in the church band in particular made a career out of shooting me the stink eye whenever he wasn't playing. I was baptized Catholic, but I never went to church as a kid, and never went through Catechism(is that the right term?) or anything. I don't think it would've worked out well.
The sharing of wine and wafers complete, the priest says something about a family member wanting to say a few words, and I think to myself,'Oh no'. Sure enough, the worst of the trouble-making relatives steps up to the podium. This person begins to deliver a speech which, at first, says some sweet things about Grandma, but spirals downward into a self-aggrandizing spiel that basically ignores anything the rest of the family has done for my Grandma over the years. To the casual, unknowing listener, it would sound like a nice little speech...but to those of us who knew the real score, it was a 'look at me, I'm such a good relative, and, by the way, I just got the last word' kind of thing. I sat listening to this, and somehow fought the urge to grab the hefty copy of the Bible in front of me and chuck it at the person spewing this bullshit. I could clearly picture it in my mind's eye, sailing across the room, making contact with the relative's forehead, dropping them like a sack of potatoes...and then throwing one at the guitar player next. But I maintained composure, for my Mom's sake if nothing else.
It was windy at the cemetary, and unseasonably warm for a Kentucky Winter. We said our final goodbyes, and went back to the church. The wind really began to blow, and the thought, 'Even the Old Gods are seeing her off' passed through my mind. Goodbyes to living relatives were said, e-mails were exchanged, and we set off for Michigan to our parent's place.


Charles Gramlich said...

I've gotten that kind of evil eye myself in church, for the long hair and for not going up to take communion. My mom used to get onto me for not taking communion, but when I took it a few years ago while I was home she told me I shouldn't have done that because I was divorced and my marriage hadn't been annulled. Sometimes you can't win for losing.

Scott said...


That's true...sometimes you can't win.

Heff said...

Again, I'm with you and Charles. I've been a pallbearer (sucks) AND received the stink-eye on several occasions.

Bible-tossing is frowned upon, but I've had that desire on MANY occassions.

Scott said...


Frowned upon it may be, but it would give new maening to the term 'bible thumper'.

Virginia Lady said...

I can relate. That evil look seems to quite common.

My most recent funeral experience was a surprising change. The priest explained all the steps of the mass and made it clear that accepting the host had some caveats. Turns out the wife of the deceased wasn't catholic, but he was. Most of those in attendance didn't go up and weren't catholic.

That should be the norm at every funeral mass. Those that don't practice the faith shouldn't feel uncomfortable coming and paying their respects.

Scott said...


It's always struck me as ironic that a religion that supposedly promotes love, peace, forgiveness, and acceptance seems to have followers that are none of the above.