World’s Best Funeral

Written by David A. Brooks

Hello kids. Tonight’s bedtime story is a little bit different. I figured that any time a funeral is fall down funny, I need to share.

A friend of mine asked me to play my cello at an old ladies funeral. It seems that the old girl was a cellist, and she wrote a piece for cello and voice. The family wanted it played at her funeral, on her cello. Well, cellos aren’t like guitars. It isn’t so easy to pick up an instrument and play it (no frets, instrument sizes vary, etc.), but I said I’d give it a go.

I went to the funeral home where the ceremony would be, and I asked for the instrument and the music. The music was in the casket, and was unavailable. Creepy. Then I discovered that her cello had been smashed into chunks. (Reparable, but in pieces. Gotta love the airlines.) I’d brought my instrument just in case. The ceremony began, and I was asked to go sit up front by the piano. Someone would retrieve the music, bring it to me, and I was going to have to sight read it. Swell. When the music was delivered, I noticed that it was also for piano. Oops. I found the guy who asked me to do this gig, and caught his eye. I knew he was his church’s organist so I motioned for him to come up front. He sat down at the funeral home’s baby grand piano. He hit an “A” for me to tune to. We immediately realized that the piano had probably last been tuned and maintained when Nixon was president. Every third note was going to be a clinker. The vocalist joined us, a blue haired lady in her ‘80s. She couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket. The music turned out to be a hymn, and it was a horrid performance; the vocalist doing the old lady soprano shriek/waiver, the piano playing random notes, and me trying to adjust for the variable pitches so the chords didn’t make my skin crawl.

When the music was blessedly over, lots of folks talked about the departed. She was a city dwelling patron of the arts, married young, a bunch of kids. Then the lights dimmed.

It turns out that if you pay for the deluxe funeral, you get a multimedia show of your life history. 3 different screens showed photos of the departed’s life, all to a music soundtrack. The funeral home goes through the boxes of photos supplied by the family, and puts on the show.

The funeral home noted that the old girl had been born in Oklahoma. Hmmm, Oklahoma. What tune to play for this matronly philanthropist? “Ducks, and geese, and chicks better scurry, when I take you out in the surrey!” Nelson Eddy. Really loud. Metallica front row make your ears bleed loud. It was a medley of all the hits from the musical “Oklahoma!” The photos were nice, though, showing her growing up, falling in love, and getting married. Then all hell broke loose.

The screens flashed on a beautiful young woman (the departed), at the beach with a handsome buff guy. Photo after photo of them having great times, hugging, kissing, and being a couple.

The departed had an aged surviving husband, who stood up and seemed to be having a stroke. He was moving his mouth, but no sounds came out, and he started to whack anything in range of his cane. He got more and more agitated, and he smacked everyone who came near.

There was a terrific crash in the very back of the room. Another old guy had gotten up and headed for the exit. His walker leg hooked the last row of metal folding chairs. He took a header and wiped out the empty last row of seats. When he got up, it was plain that he was the buff guy in the photos. It seems that the funeral home stumbled on a set of souvenir photos from a great romance; just not with her husband. The old boyfriend had just wanted to say an inconspicuous good bye to his true love. Someone helped the boyfriend up and out; and someone else blocked the husband from seeking revenge (taking more than a few whacks with the cane in the process). Just then the soundtrack tastefully blared “Poor Judd is dead, a candle lights his head. He’s looking oh so peaceful and serene. The daisies in the dell will give off a different smell, because poor Judd is lying in his grave.” Without question, the best funeral I’ve ever been to.

Good night kids. I’ve got the light.
Uncle David