This past weekend I headed to Indianapolis for a quick trip. Sadly, my cousin Helen passed away last week after a long illness and her funeral was set for Friday. Helen was actually my mom’s cousin and is 20+ years older than my mom, so it wasn’t a huge shock for her to die, but still a very sad day.
Helen was an amazing cousin – she never missed a birthday, Christmas, or family get together. She loved all kids and came to Peoria to visit both of my girls within a few weeks of them being born, even though she was older and had a harder time getting around. And she was a devoted Grandmother to her son Kenny’s two children as well as an adopted Grandma to many, many others. She was giving, loving, and a fixture in our lives and will never be forgotten, that’s for sure.
Because of Addison’s recent interest in all things death, Jay and I made the decision for the girls and Jay to stay in Illinois while I traveled to represent the famly. I was pretty sure that even on their best behavior, two small kids running around a funeral home would not be a great idea, and I also thought there was a decent chance Addi would try to climb IN the casket to get a better look. Best to keep the girl at home.
My plan was justified on Friday morning when I dropped Addi off at school. She said, “Bye Mom!” then turned to her friends and said, “My mom is going to cousin Helen’s funeral. She died and my mom is going to put her in a box. AND she gets to put the dirt on her too, right Mom?”
After pulling her aside, telling her to be quiet and shaking my head at her teacher, I headed to work then drove to Indy for the visitation. I braced myself mentally for a typical family funeral but crossed my fingers for the best. And when I say “typical” I mean typical for MY extended family… Cases of hot beer in the parking lot… arguments… people wearing their “dressy” ripped jeans… and lots and lots of eye rolls. They aren’t always MY family members but hey, we are popular and have lots of friends showing up too.
When I got to the funeral home I was surprised to see a full house. Helen was obviously a very liked and loved woman and had an extended family of friends there to send her off. Also in attendance was Helen’s son Kenny, wife Tiffany and her grandchildren. Overall I think we were all very pleasantly surprised at the night’s end. It was a respectful, family and friend filled send off for a lovely, loving woman.
She will be missed, that is for sure.
Helen and my mom with baby Addison
Now, I could end this blog right here. But those who know me know I never miss a chance to tell it like it is. So here, for your reading pleasure, are a few quips overheard at the funeral home. And yes, I know Helen would laugh right along with you. Mostly. Or, just shake her head.
“How’s everything going?”
“Oh, just fine. Now, go talk to HER [points at my mom].” – my uncle Phil to the funeral director, knowing my mom would chew him out for the family. Which she did.
“Who’s the slut in the skirt?” – as a teenage girl walks by in a skirt that would be short on Addi. A PLUMP teenage girl, mind you. And please note, she was a VERY nice girl. With, again, a VERY short skirt.
“Wow, it’s been years since I have seen you!”
“Yeah it’s definitely been awhile, that’s for sure!”
“I’m pretty sure the last time I saw you was on Crimestoppers. How have you been?”
- me to my cousin Jason. And FINE, I didn’t really say the last line but I sure wanted to!
“Wow, I didn’t see Daniel! Where is he?”
“He’s the one over there with the dents in his head.”
[SNIFF] “I need a tissue. Do you know where one is?”
“Sure. Over there by the fat blob.” [points to the corner where Tiffany is sitting]
[In regards to a former family friend dying]
“Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that. What happened?”
“Well, it was the booze and the smoking.”
[nods head respectfully] “That’s too bad.”
“Yeah we told him not to quit or he’d die.”
"Kenny, this was a really nice service. Your mom would be proud." -
"Yeah, I couldn't let her go out like a two bit whore!"
And, the final humdinger of the night:
“Just pretend to have a seizure and slap the bitch, will you?”