Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Comin’ in from “The Edge…”
Death…Exit Laughing

This famous quote from British poet John Donne ( 1572-1631) is often recited at funerals to give comfort: “Death be not proud, though some have called thee Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so. For, those, whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow. Die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill me. ”

Well, from some of the responses I got to last week’s anecdotal tale-of-woe about my mother’s funeral arrangements, not only is death not proud, but sometimes it can be pretty darn funny. Read on…

From Laura -

Jews need to be buried or cremated within 24 hours after death, and the funeral parlor where my parents had made arrangements (and pre-paid ! ) 20 years before said we didn't give them enough notice for a service . We were sent into a panic to find another place, especially after this place told us there were no other places available, anywhere....can you imagine? In FLORIDA ?!!

While my father was cremated in Florida, he was to be buried in New Jersey, and there are all kinds of rules that vary from state to state about the proper transportation of cremains, so there was even more drama about the container that was used. Oye!

Anyway, his ashes are currently in my sister's house in Ohio, and we will bury him in June. Somewhere, I just know that Dad is laughing.

In an unrelated (except by marriage) incident, my brother-in-law was given the wrong body to say good-bye to when his mother died. He freaked when it was discovered, because he had kissed this total stranger good-bye!

(Comment : “He didn’t look first? Then, again…some funeral home cosmeticians do make the deceased look almost unrecognizable.)

From Anderson -

Have you noticed how things can really get/seem a bit absurd at a time such as this? Is it the rest of the world, or just me?

So we're burying my Dad, and we're headed for the cemetery in the motorcade. All of a sudden a dumb, in-a-hurry driver cuts into our procession. Well, our limo driver took it upon himself to GIVE CHASE to this irreverent driver. So here we go tear-assing through traffic after him, and with the rest of the procession (not knowing what's going on) following us at break-neck speeds!! I had to PHYSICALLY grab this man, and threaten bodily harm if he didn't break-off this nonsense and get us back into the funeral spirit!

Crazy…is it the rest of the world, or just me?
From Janice -

About 10 years ago, my cousin, Sonny, passed away. His family decided to cremate him and bury his ashes near his dear, departed wife. The services were to be held graveside, as it was to be simple and dignified (as was he). My husband, Mario attended the funeral with me. Mario was born and educated in Verona and we always knew he was one of those two gentlemen of Verona that Shakespeare wrote about.

After the ceremony, with devout reverence, Mario whispered to me soto voce "Where is Sonny?"

I pointed to the box-like urn that held his remains. Mario cleared his throat and whispered into my ear, "I thought that was the collection box…I was going to put some money in it!"

I laughed so hard tears were running down my face.

Ever since I hit midlife, death has become more than just a concept to me. With each passing birthday, the realization has set in -- especially with the death of my parents (and with greater and greater frequency, my peers, including several of my Edge of Night cast-mates) -- that death is an unavoidable destination to which we are all standing on a very slippery slope.

This brings to mind another John Donne quote: “But let them sleep, Lord, and me mourn a space.

To which I’d like to make note that he says “a space,” not a lifetime ; and to which I’d like to suggest: make that space as brief as you possibly can, and then get on with living.

Life is too short and too precious, and you do your loved ones no great service by withdrawing from it just because they’re no longer around. And you do not dishonor their memory when you experience joy, love and laughter.

So, I offer a hearty “Thank you” to Laura, Anderson and Janice for sharing your funny stories with me. It felt really, really good to laugh...

Even if it was just to keep from crying.


PS -- If any more of you have humorous funeral stories you’d like to share, feel free to e-mail them to me at mariannaalda@aol.com . I’m thinking that maybe, someday, I’ll include them in a book…which brings to mind yet another quote from John Donne:

“When one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language.”

That didn’t make me laugh…but it definitely made me smile.


ohc said...

I miss edge of night and was watching old episodes of it on youtube, i wish that they could air more episodes i would like to see how Raven is doing too and how to write her

Esther said...

Oh.My. Those were sadly funny stories. Thanks to those people who wrote and shared and to you too, Mariann. You are so right about mourn...and move on. That's why in the Jewish faith we sit shiva...one week and move on.