Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Putting the Fun Back in Funeral

Sunday, my grandfather died.

I found out after screening my fathers calls for a few hours until on the 10th call when I finally picked up and screamed “Oh my god! Why are you stalking me?!?!?” and he said “Just to let you know that my dad died.” And the good daughter award was won by me, once again.

I’m sad that he’s dead. Really, I am. I’ll miss him and all… the thing is though, I got the distinct feeling he was kind of over the whole “being alive” thing. On the rare occasion I saw him, he mostly just sat around, stared into space and generally looked like he was longing for the sweet embrace of death. It’s a look I’ve often seen on the faces of significant others, and in pictures of myself, so it’s easy for me to recognize.

My family's Jewish, and in our religion when someone dies we bury them within a day or two because we don’t embalm them because it’s sacrilegious (and expensive) and then we sit Shiva for a couple of days. Shiva is kind of like a Jew wake, except you (in theory) cover all the mirrors and wear rags and no make up and stuff.

That’s not quite how we roll, though.

The initial response to the death of the last patriarch on either side of the family was for everyone to meet at his old apartment and claw each other’s eyes out, Jerry Springer style, in desperate bids to get their hands on all unwilled goods. This was followed by a traditional Jewish family dinner at an Italian restaurant, where we all shared the ceremonial family-style pork chops and lobster.

Tuesday was the actual funeral. In the house before leaving for the parlor, my father OCDed over his speech, I applied “mourning” make up and Big Big and my mother cried their eyes out.

Big Big’s hysterics weren’t particularly surprising, since I’ve seen her cry equally as hard when the when her stylist at Neiman Marcus can’t fit her in for a trim, but my mother’s tears came as somewhat of a surprise since she never really spoke to my grandfather. I had to ask he if she really cared that grandpa was dead. She briefly stopped weeping to reply, “Of course I do! I’m glad he’s dead.” An understandable, yet completely creepy response.

Big Big recovered in an unprecedented five minutes, upon discovering that she could receive a free Burberry cologne with a purchase of $100 dollars or more.

Since my dad’s sister decided that having a rabbi at the service would jack the price up too much, and it was only decided last minute that one would be necessary, we got the most bootleg rabbi they could find. Iodine tan, talk show host demeanor, everything you wouldn’t want at a funeral. The plastic menorah filled with electric candles which they placed behind the slightly-better-than–cardboard coffin, however, really upped the class factor.

My father's eulogy was surprisingly heartfelt. He acknowledged that my grandfather was probably better off this way since he had often expressed the sentiment that “if he couldn’t drive or shop, life wasn’t worth living”. A quote I will certainly be reusing should my sister predecease me.

After the service, the extended family returned to my parents house, where as usual there was enough food to host a weeks worth of over eaters anonymous meetings.

My friends arrived just in the nick of time, and we mourned together by consuming three bottles of wine, 6 pills of Valium and 4 or 5 plates of traditional Hebrew mac and cheese.

The highlights were my father whipping out his camera to take Shiva shots of us getting wasted, Muffin asking Big Big if she knew who the vice president was, and her replying “You mean, of my sorority?”, and Though Though letting everyone look at/feel up her boobs because she was pissed at her boyfriend. Oh, and lets not forget the impromptu meeting of Gamma Kappa I Date Dads that ensued.

The evening was topped off by the ceremonial smoking of the Shiva Blunt.

Perhaps my mother summed it up best when she said “You know, I’m really going to miss Grandpa.... a little.”