Here in the South we love a good funeral. When a person is dead, they have the largest number of people they’ll ever have attend a party, lie in the most elaborate satin-lined bed they could experience, and ride in an expensive limousine with a parade in their honor. I don’t know if everybody does these things, but in the South we celebrate the fact that this person lived. It’s just a shame they’re not around to enjoy it.
Death and food go hand-in-hand in the South, also. A wonderful custom is the bringing of the traditional pound cakes, casseroles, ham and, of course, fried chicken. In fact, people are so intent on feeding the bereft family that they will take food not only to the spouse’s house, but some will deliver to brothers, sisters, parents and cousins. We do love a good excuse to eat, and we all know that food can be very consoling.
And then there’s the inevitable comments at the funeral home. Some will lean way over into the casket as if they’re checking to make sure it’s really the person they came to see. Then they’ll turn to the person standing there waiting their turn and say, “He looks so natural.” Now, here’s a man with a pale face, dressed in an
outfit that he never wore in everyday life, and he’s being compared to being alive. And then there’s the glasses. I have yet to look into a coffin and see a person’s eyes open, but many times they’ll have on their eyeglasses.
A lot of times the comments are not even about the deceased. It’s not uncommon to see two people standing over the casket laughing and talking about something completely unrelated, totally ignoring the fact that there’s a dead body right there.
Then we have our own version of the professional mourners. There are two or three people that I have seen during visitation at every funeral I’ve attended. Granted in a small town a lot of people know the same people, but everyone? These ladies are always dressed nicely, consoling family members and speaking kindly about the deceased. If there’s refreshments available, they always manage to be close in case they’re needed.
And, of course, no funeral would be complete in the South without an abundance of songs and preaching. It’s not necessary that the Good Reverend know the deceased; he’ll find a good 30 minutes of something to talk about anyway.
Then after everyone gets in their car, there’s the inevitable line of cars to the grave site, which most people will attend. We don’t care if it’s 30 miles to the cemetery. We just get in line and follow the car in front of us. I have known people to start out for the cemetery and end up at Wal-Mart.
Yeah, we do love a good funeral here, but we also respect our fellow man. Our policemen will remove their hats at a funeral procession. Cars will pull over and wait for the group to pass by, and many people will watch politely and silently as the cars go by. Traditions die hard in the South, and I hope this one remains a long, long time. I think I would miss it.