My Big Fat Redneck Funeralbyqhml1©
This is an almost word for word true story. Who has the imagination to make this shit up? Sorry, cousins, but you are what you are.
My favorite uncle on my mothers' side had passed away. He and one aunt were my favorites, and mom insisted I go, saying he had left me something.
I would have went anyway, after all he was my favorite uncle.
He was the most practical man I ever knew. He was smart enough to work as an electrician for NASA for awhile in the sixties, until they found out he couldn't read. He had taken the application home and had his son fill it out, and went to work the next week. He could read schematics, just not words. It all came out when they wanted to promote him.
He confessed, and they liked him so much they offered him tutoring, but he packed his family up and moved back home.
All the members on that side of the family ran to a certain type, usually about five eight or nine.
They most all weighed about two fifty, with brown to sandy blond, thinning hair.
All the women tended to be about five to five three, with brown to blond thinning hair, and weigh about two fifty. Needless to say, that part of the family tree didn't branch much.
They also tended to marry, if they bothered, when the men were about twenty five and the women were about fifteen. The average length of marriage was about three years. They lived two states away[think peaches]from us[think long leaf pines and tar]and in my opinion that was plenty close enough.
We took after my dads' side of the family. I was six three, and three of my sisters were five ten or taller. I always imagined how Gulliver felt when he was in Lilliput whenever we went to family reunions.
I packed my suit, put my mom and two sisters in my SUV, and took the four hour trip.
The service was held at the funeral home chapel. We stopped at the home and changed before we went. We needn't have bothered, most showed up in jeans or casual attire. Some were eying us, and I could tell what they were thinking.
They thought we felt we were better than them, and while they were mostly right to a degree, I never disrespected any of them. The only time I had an actual disagreement with any of them was at another funeral. An aunt had passed, and her crackhead great grandson was giving his mother grief about not going to get his father. They were divorced, he had his own car, I felt like if he wanted to come he would have. I distracted him by telling him I had a joint, and we needed to go outside to smoke it.
He immediately shut up and followed me out to the front porch. It was an old farmhouse, sitting on a rise overlooking a small valley, and the front porch was about six feet off the ground. No one was there but us.
"Light it up bro, I need to mellow."
He was about five six, and being a crackhead, he only weighed about a hundred pounds. I laughed.
"There is no joint, asshole. I just needed to get you out of the house, you were causing a scene and upsetting your mother and grandmother. Calm your ass down before you go back in there, show some respect. They're grieving."
His happy face turned to a scowl.
"Might have known, you goody two shoes. Fuck you, I'll talk to them any way I want. What you gonna do about it?"
Anyone that has ever known me knew that was exactly the wrong thing to say. I smiled at him.
"I don't really know, but if we stand here long enough I'll think of something."
He tried to push past me.
"I got it! I'll throw your skinny ass off this porch, then go down and throw you back up. I'll do that until it stops being fun, maybe by then you'll have calmed down and rethink your attitude."
He started to smart off when I picked him up and threw him off the porch. Got good distance, I thought. He lay there cussing until I started down the steps. He jumped up and ran around the house.
I was walking up the steps when I heard laughter. One of my older cousins had been lying on the porch swing and heard the whole thing. He grinned at me.
"That'll teach the little shit, he's had that coming for a long time."
I grinned back.
"I doubt it, that type never learns. Still, maybe he'll behave himself for a little while. Take care."
Cousin Jimmy was a perfect gentleman the rest of the day. The fact that I was two steps behind him most of the time probably had nothing to do with it.
Of course the older cousin told the tale, and word got back to me his daddy was pissed and wanted to see if I was willing to try that shit with a real man.
I don't believe in middlemen, so I got his number and called him, promising to look him up in three weeks when I went down to the family reunion. Unfortunately, he had to be out of town that weekend. My loss.
The result was most of the cousins had a 'don't fuck with him' attitude where I was concerned, which suited me just fine.
My mom sat in the front with her sisters and sister in laws. I sat with my sisters near the back.
The service was just starting when two of the cousins came in dressed in jeans, sleeveless tee shirts, and ball caps. In their favor, they did take the caps off.
A few minutes later I heard the unmistakeable sound of two beers opening. I looked around, and they actually had a cooler, and were pouring their beers into red solo cups. Every time I hear that song, I don't think about parties, I think about two rednecks drinking beer at a funeral.
One of them saw me looking, and graciously offered me one. I politely declined.
After the service, instead of going to the graveyard we went back to the home. Most of the women went in to fix the traditional after service meal. Some of the women and men went into the side yard, started a CD of hymns, and started to testify. Another group, mostly guys and the younger women, went into the back yard and started their own music, mostly, country, Lynard Skynard, and Warren Haynes. They were also drinking peach brandy, courtesy of another cousin. I knew first hand how potent the brew was, usually kept a pint around, and it tended to last a long time.
There was another guy there from my state, two towns away. He had married a cousin, and the first thing she insisted they do was move out of state. They ended up near me, and we socialized on an intermittent basis.
I grinned at him. He grinned back.
"How long you intend to stay?" I asked.
"Oh, two or three hours, or until the fight starts, whichever comes first."
I considered that a good plan, and we settled onto a park bench under a big eastern cedar, where we could keep an eye on everyone.
The meal was served, and we ate, good country cooking. You could look at their waistlines and tell they didn't miss many meals. I saw one cousin with a set of hole diggers, putting a new hole in the rose garden my uncle was always so proud of. Two more were mixing a bag of concrete in a five gallon bucket. I looked at my friend, but he just raised an eyebrow and shrugged.
I was getting more and more nervous. The brandy drinkers and the testifiers were starting to mingle. Bad sign.
Suddenly one of the cousins yelled out.
"Ya'll come on over here now, time to say goodby to Uncle Junior."
He was standing at the edge of the rose garden.
As we got closer we saw he was holding the box that contained his ashes.
"We all know how proud he was of this rose garden. He always said he wanted to be buried in it, so we gonna honor that."
He held the box up for everyone to see, then opened it and poured in into the hole. The other two cousins who had mixed the cement immediately emptied the bucket into the hole, smoothing the top.
The cousin who appeared to be in charge made a short speech about how much Uncle Junior meant to us all.
"I know I'm supposed to say some words now, and the only thing I could think of was how much he loved jokes. So if anybody has a good joke, this'll be the last chance you get to tell it to him."
There was silence for a few minutes, then cousin after cousin started telling jokes. This lasted about half an hour before it petered out and people started drifting back to the gospel singing and the brandy. We went back to our seat under the cedar.
About fifteen minutes later a short chunky woman with a white dress on that looked like it belonged at a Stevie Nicks concert and a woman in jeans stood in front of us.
"I don't know who that bitch thinks she is. I got a good notion to teach that skank a lesson."
We looked at each other, got up, went into the house and retrieved our relatives.
I told my mom and sisters it was about time we headed out, I'd like to get home before dark. They were more than ready. We were on the road in fifteen minutes.
As soon as we hit 85 North, I asked my mom about the rose garden.
"He wanted to be buried beside his favorite grandson."
"You remember cousin Billy Ray? No? Well, he and two of his buddies wanted some spending money, so they decided to knock over a liquor store."
"They had already been drinking and doing god knows what, so they weren't too smart about it. They picked a store one block form the police station, and sat in front of the window putting on their masks and getting out the guns."
"The owner saw them getting ready, called the cops, and was waiting for them with a shotgun when they came through the door. He cut the first boy almost in two. Billy Ray ran back outside about the time the patrol car pulled in. Like an idiot, he fired off a couple of shots before diving into the back of the truck."
"A little Ranger truck is not going to outrun a police car, but they tried. The driver missed the curve at seventy miles an hour and ran head on into an oak tree. Billy Ray never had a chance. He was nineteen."
"The driver was hurt pretty bad, but he lived. He's doing fifteen to twenty right now."
"They cremated him and Junior put him in the rose garden, and put up a stone. You can just barely see it through the roses."
"Is Aunt Jean going to be buried there?"
"Lord no, she's already got a plot at Forest Lawn. She said the last thing she wanted was to see her kids trash her house or sell it to strangers."
We were almost to Greenville when we got the call.
"Ya'll should have stayed, it was a hell of a fight, there must have been two dozen rolling around at one time. We had the call the Sheriff, he sent out two squad cars. Seven of them got arrested. Hell of a funeral, huh?"
Yes it was.
About six months later my mom called me.
"Remember Troy, Juniors' oldest? He passed away last week. They put him in the rose garden, between his dad and son."
"Gee, mom, sounds like Aunt Jean needs to plant more roses."
She laughed, said "not likely', and started telling me what she wanted me to bring for Sunday dinner next week.