I’m sure that all of you have been to at least one funeral so you probably know the procedure, which typically includes the viewing at the funeral home followed by the church service, followed by a trip to the cemetery. The car procession to the cemetery would usually go as follows: the “lead” car, which was driven by my dad, with the priest as his passenger. The lead car was my dad’s silver Cadillac. He has always driven a Cadillac, just like a pimp. The second car was the “flower” car. The flower car was actually a silver station wagon that doubled as our family car and had a permanent smell of dead flower petals. All the flowers that could fit into the car would be taken to the
cemetery and placed around the grave. After the flower car was the hearse which was followed by the limousine with the family in it. The family always follows the dead person.
This one time, everything was in place and going smoothly. The procession started out from St. Alice church and was on the way to Saints Peter and Paul cemetery. That was a very popular cemetery in our area. It’s an interesting (and expensive) ritual how we put the body in a casket that goes into a vault that goes into the ground. Since everyone ends up as just bones, why bother? That’s all I’m saying. But I guess that’s not a strong selling point for the funeral business.
Anyway, the funeral procession was in full swing. It was a fairly big funeral so there were a lot of cars in line. My dad was in the front leading the procession and two cars behind him was the hearse. All of the cars had to cross over a set of railroad tracks on the way. It turns out that whoever was responsible for closing the latch on the back of the hearse failed to close it completely. My dad went over the tracks, the flower car went over the tracks, and as the hearse went over the tracks, the latch opened and the casket fell out!
Remember that behind the hearse is the limousine with the family in it. Can you imagine grieving on the way to the cemetery only to be jolted by the vision of your loved one falling out of the hearse onto a set of railroad tracks? Thankfully, the casket didn’t open or the body would’ve come out. Although, let’s face it, that would be even funnier. The limousine driver slammed on the brakes just about the same time the hearse driver realized what happened. Meanwhile, the flower car driver sees that the hearse stopped, so he stopped. Then my dad saw that the flower car had stopped so he stopped. The line of cars is now all backed up and the drivers are scrambling to pick up the casket. But you need more than two people to lift a casket. My dad came rushing back to the hearse and practically shit himself. He couldn’t’ believe it. Quickly my dad, the other drivers and a couple other guys lifted the casket back into the hearse. Did I already mention that my dad constantly thought he would be sued for mental anguish? Well, this was one of those instances.
Luckily, the family didn’t sue but I guarantee whoever didn’t close that latch right got ripped a new one by my dad. Of course, later, much much later, my dad was able to laugh about it. He knew all the mishaps were funny, he just wished it would happen to a different funeral director. But if it did, then I wouldn’t have these fun stories to tell, now would I?
Have a tipsy Tuesday…
(the second picture was our first family/flower car. Remember those stations wagons with the wood on the side? Gotta love the 70’s. Look at the monkey in the driver’s seat. I don’t think my brother was even born yet.)