Next to eating at Cracker Barrel after church on Sundays, Mama and Daddy’s favorite social activity is visiting the funeral home. My, how they love a good visitation followed by a stop at Dairy Queen. I’m not sure what it is about going to the funeral home and viewing a body that makes them crave a Dilly Bar, but apparently, something stirs their appetite for dairy while they’re at a wake.
They’re at the funeral home several times a month. They go to the funeral home the way some folks go to the Piggly Wiggly. It’s like a reunion of family and friends when they show up, and they sit and visit until the cows come home. I guess some of that comes with age or maybe it comes from living far out in the country where you have only one neighbor, but Mama and Daddy take their visitation duties seriously. If someone they know or the loved one of a friend or family member passes, you can count on them to show up at the funeral parlor at the appropriate time. And don’t be surprised if they bring food. That’s what we do in the south during any sort of tragedy you know, we send food. Nothing soothes grief like fried chicken, baked ham or a green bean casserole, and every church below the
I was in my old hometown last night for the visitation of a family member’s relative by marriage. It’s kind of sad, but a funeral or wedding is often the only time I make it to my old hometown. It’s a small town, so if you don’t know which funeral home to go to, you just show up at the first one and if nobody’s there, you drive across town to the other one. In fact, it’s such a small town, you could probably stop at the bank on the way into town and ask any clerk where the visitation for so and so is, and she could tell you off the top of her head or ask the teller next to her and get the right answer. I love that about home.
My plan was to visit with the family for a little while and scoot home to get things ready for a new work week. I arrived shortly at the start of visitation and sure enough, Mama and Daddy were already there, had spoken to the family and were starting to make their rounds of talking to other visitors. (Mama had dropped off the spiral ham earlier in the day.) Mama latched onto me, made sure I signed the visitor’s book, took the appropriate card and led me around to introduce me to folks. She was on a mission to make sure I did all the right things and understood the process, and frankly, acted as if I’d never been to the funeral home. About thirty minutes into it, it hit me that she was grooming me for future funeral home duties. Grooming me for her position. The position she expects me to take when she’s gone. As if I don’t already have enough dairy in my life.
We made the rounds, and much to my surprise, I ended up staying longer than I expected. I saw my old Sunday school teacher, an old grade school classmate and the parents of three people I went to school with as a kid. Before I could help myself, I was kicked back on a sofa in the front parlor, yakking it up with folks I hadn’t seen in a long time, and talking a blue streak. SuperCop came in, and I stayed a little longer to see him. (And guess which favorite nephew climbed up on the kitchen table yesterday and flung a pepper shaker through the air? Yee haw, somebody’s walkin’ now!) Anyhow, I stayed longer than I ever expected and shall I say it? I enjoyed seeing some friends, cousins and an aunt and two uncles I haven’t seen in a while and left feeling satisfied with the dose of “home” I got while I was there. Is this what Mama and Daddy get out of those visits? Does this account for why they go so often and stay so long? Am I getting old? Is that why for the first time in my life, I didn’t mind going to the funeral home? AM I getting old? Are Mama’s instincts right in that it’s time for me to start getting used to that kind of thing? I don’t know, but I can tell you, I had to fight like heck, the urge to pull into the DQ drive-thru for a vanilla milk shake on the way home.