Tuesday, October 06, 2009

You Try Not to Laugh

I recently posted this great quote from Erma Bombeck:
"Laughter rises out of tragedy, when you need it the most, and rewards you for your courage."
One of the greatest things about Erma Bombeck's writing was how she had a knack for pointing out that we are not alone in our struggles or our victories, however small and odd they may be. Until I read that quote I really thought that my family was alone in the way we grieve, but I can tell that Mrs. Bombeck probably laughed at a funeral or two in her day as well.
I have often said that my family puts the "fun" in funeral. It's been on my mind a lot this week. I shared with you all Sunday that it was the 28th anniversary of my salvation, and many of you know that Friday will be the 28th anniversary of my grandfather's death and how those two went hand in hand. What you may not know, and what we don't talk about that much is why the family had to leave the room during visitation.
As you can imagine, the lose of the patriarch of any family is not easy. My grandfather was in his early 50's and a very kind and loving man. We were all very torn up. We were comforted by the idea that he had gone to be with our Lord and we would see him again, but that never completely takes away the need to grieve the lose of one in your life.
Many people came to pay their respects. There were friends, family, and work colleagues, but none exactly like my cousin's wife. She was young, and I guess it was her first funeral. She knew to wear black, she got that part right. However, a skin tight floor length cocktail dress was not exactly appropriate. When you combine that with her pale skin and long straight black hair, she looked just like Morticia Addams. She was even having to take tiny steps due to the tightness of the dress.
My poor dear saintly grandmother. She looked up and saw this sight and just about lost it. She quietly excused herself as did her children. We all gathered in a private family room and started laughing. You sort of feel guilty for laughing to the point of tears on such a sad occasion, but looking back I know it was truly a gift from God. That day would have been unbearable for all of us had that not happened. I think it says a lot that to this day what I remember most about the funeral was this rare moment of laughter.
Since then I have come to find out that laughter is not uncommon at funerals in my family. It is always unexpected, unplanned, and greatly appreciated. For my children's sake, I hope that trend continues.
So, as the date approaches, I am choosing to focus on the joy and laughter that my grandfather brought to my life. He took me on my first motorcycle ride, my first opossum hunt armed only with flashlights, and gave me that first glimpse at unconditional love as only a grandparent can.
If family reads this, I hope it doesn't make you sad. I know memories of this are probably a lot different from an adults point of view. I hope seeing it the way I remembered it bring back laughter and not tears.

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