Friday, July 31, 2009

Went to a Nice Funeral Today

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The son of the deceased gave a beautiful heartfelt eulogy. I recall my dad's funeral, where my comments were the turd in the punchbowl. I wasn't planning on saying anything, but my father's church friends -- in that quintessential Fundy god-loves-a-rich-man mode -- insisted on boasting about my father's business acumen.

My sister and I had just started going through dad's records. We knew the house was mortgaged at 18 percent to its last nickel of worth and that he'd been saved from bankruptcy the year before when my mother inherited money from her sister, and that he'd blown most of that money paying off old debts and making new investments, all of which were now debits instead of credits.

But we for the first time looked at his income tax returns *on which we discovered he had claimed real estate profits he had never made* and thus turned refunds into payments. He had been cooking his own books so that he seemed to be making a profit. Not to fool anyone. Not a set of books to lure in new investors. Simply a record of phony profits to fool himself.

So after this endless torrent of lies, finally I got up and said this is the great lesson of my father's life that I want to point out to his grandchildren and great grandchildren. In spite of all his failures, he persevered. (I did not add that the lesson that hatches from this particular iteration of the common virtue is: But if what you are doing is stupid, please stop.)

{{<span class=Did I mention Jesus? Not by name or nickname. After my contribution, the 300-pound preacher (not that there's anything wrong with that, but damn! he's going to be a four-winged angel, kind of like a dragonfly) up he jumped and talked about my father's godless offspring who broke his heart. And everyone stared at satan's emissary in the second row.

In its way, it was a very entertaining funeral, and I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

2 comments:

tommy said...

Ah, funerals Michael! I have reached the point in my life (I now realize) when I appreciate the inevitable meetings with those who don't cross my path as often as I would like. Let's call it an appreciation of the elders in my (extended) family. Roll on my return to the emerald isle.
BTW - what are your plans, if you have any, for your last "performance?"

....J.Michael Robertson said...

You mean for my own funeral? Eydie and I were talking about it after the funeral yesterday. I said that I'd like to be cremated and spread wherever she feels like spreading me and in the company of anyone who wants to go along. Thinking about it now, I realize that I'd like her to coordinate it with my older sister so that my sis could be present for the dispersal of some of the ashes. As for a service or a wake, nah. What I'd like Eydie to do is two or three weeks after disposal to set aside a Sunday afternoon at the house but not publicize it. But if anyone called and asked if anything was being done, she would say, "Yeah, in a couple weeks." That way, self-selection would take place, only the *motivated* would come for the free drinks,which are a motivation all their own. But funerals are for the living, to comfort or amuse them. E. can do anything she wants. The actuarial tables say she'll out live me. Lucky for me if she does!!