Not many places where it's safe for me to rant about this, so here I am. Please excuse and forgive my rant in advance.

We're getting ready for my Dad's funeral friday. Visitation is thursday.

It's a small midwestern town. I hated living there. Leaving for military service was the most freeing experience of my young life. THe place is a dismal small minded town that time forgot. On my many, many visits to my parents over the years, I've bypassed dealing with any people other than my parents, and have been more than happy to do so. My memories growing up here are of bullies, hypocrites, bigots, racists and violent homophobes, overbearing small minded assholes who have no problems imposing their will on others. A favorite book, growing up, was Spoon River Anthology, a depressing compliation from a similar, nearby place. My possibly inaccurate memory is that people there were happy to die, in order to get out of town, or generally lived depressing, meaningless lives:


"The Hill"
Where are Elmer, Herman, Bert, Tom and Charley,
The weak of will, the strong of arm, the clown, the boozer, the fighter?
All, all are sleeping on the hill.
One passed in a fever,
One was burned in a mine,
One was killed in a brawl,
One died in a jail,
One fell from a bridge toiling for children and wife—
All, all are sleeping, sleeping, sleeping on the hill.
Where are Ella, Kate, Mag, Lizzie and Edith,
The tender heart, the simple soul, the loud, the proud, the happy one?—
All, all are sleeping on the hill.
One died in shameful child-birth,
One of a thwarted love,
One at the hands of a brute in a brothel,
One of a broken pride, in the search for heart’s desire;
One after life in far-away London and Paris
Was brought to her little space by Ella and Kate and Mag—
All, all are sleeping, sleeping, sleeping on the hill.
Where are Uncle Isaac and Aunt Emily,
And old Towny Kincaid and Sevigne Houghton,
And Major Walker who had talked
With venerable men of the revolution?—
All, all are sleeping on the hill.
They brought them dead sons from the war,
And daughters whom life had crushed,
And their children fatherless, crying—
All, all are sleeping, sleeping, sleeping on the hill.
Where is Old Fiddler Jones
Who played with life all his ninety years,
Braving the sleet with bared breast,
Drinking, rioting, thinking neither of wife nor kin,
Nor gold, nor love, nor heaven?
Lo! he babbles of the fish-frys of long ago,
Of the horse-races of long ago at Clary’s Grove,
Of what Abe Lincoln said
One time at Springfield.

Since there are others involved, Im going with the flow to avoid looking bad. I haven't worn a suit in 20 years. Now I have to buy a suit that I may never wear again. What a waste - people are struggling to get by, and I have to buy senseless expensive clothing to avoid appearing disrespectful. A last minute airline ticket and motel costs aren't enough to show respect, I have to shell out for a suit.

I don't beleive in the whole pall bearer thing. It's a manipulative tradition designed to demonstrate reverence for the dead. Now I'll be a pall bearer along with a bunch of Masons I've probably never met, and a neighbor who was a friend to my dad. "It's expected". I'll look bad to them if I don't. In a hospital, they have gurneys for carrying patients, and they're not in steel and wood coffins that strain the back. My back is not so good.

Then there's visitation. Visitation for what? A closed multi-thousand dollar coffin. He was so emaciated before he died, even while alive he was looking like an Egyptian mummy. This is not an exaggeration. What are they going to do, show his mummy? Pile on make-up? I asked for a closed casket, but I don't know yet if that will happen. This is incredibly grotesque, macabre.

He was a Mason, so apparently they'll have a ceremony for him as well. I've never been too sure what Masons do, some sort of pseudoreligious mumbo jumbo. My great aunt used to claim that Masons and Knights of Columbus were sort of warring mobs, alternating killing one another. I don't know.

I already put up with the hospice chaplain telling me about going over scripture with my Dad. Then there will be the funeral. I will not get into any discussions, I just want minimal intrusion into my personal grief then to get out of there.

I've been saying a very, very, long and painful goodby in the most meaningful way possible, while he was still alive. I experienced the loss vividly with every visit. These people are into the ceremony and drama, the social conformity, busybodies and overbearing religionists. I just want to get it over with. Distant relatives who I haven't seen in years, wanting to pay hundreds for flowers for the casket - to be used once then discarded. If they don't, then they'll look bad because other people will have flowers there. I suggested giving to the local library, where he was a board member for many years, and were he spent an evening each week browsing through the books. But social pressures demand the fucking flowers.

I will not fake prayer. It's a form of mental rape, forcing me to pretend to believe something I think is evil. I will not bow my head when they pray. I will not argue religion. I will not be forced to practice meaningless ritual, beyond the pall bearer thing.

Or will I.

OK, just a rant. I loved my Dad, none of this has anything to do with that. Nothing to be done but go through the motions and avoid interacting with those people as much as possible, remember that it will all soon be over. Then get back on the plane and get 2,000 miles between me and those people again. The best view of the place was always in the rear view mirror.

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Comment by sacha on August 18, 2010 at 11:06am
I wish you well, Daniel.

Try to think about how much better your life is than theirs, and have visions of how you would kill them if you could.
Comment by Mike Hein on August 18, 2010 at 8:06am
Hey Buddy, not much to add to the others' comments. My sincere condolences on your loss. It is, indeed, something of a life-changing event and even being well-prepared after a long illness, you are never fully ready for it. Hang tough.

As to the rant, it is your right. (and it WAS a good one). :) Cheers to your Dad.
Comment by Daniel W on August 18, 2010 at 7:38am
Wow! Thank you all so much for reading my rant and your thoughtful comments! It means so much! Thank Gore for the Information Superhighway! Now that I got a little sleep I dont feel quite as bad.

Sacha, I'll see if they have suit rentals in the town that time forgot! I didn't think of that. Im already on the last leg of the pilgramage, too late to rent one then bring it. Maybe I should buy one then place a craigs list ad to give it to a job hunter or someone who needs it to be buried in. Just thinkin. I will have to mail it back - too expensive to check in baggage. Thank you for the insight for checking on that.

Jason thank you for the perspective. This is also why we need gay weddings, so that sexual deviants can support the economy.

Grace, Im sorry to for your loss. Your comments about who is asked to be pallbearer are well taken, maybe it's a local custom, like the Oktoberfest with buckets of beer. I have done it b4, with grandparents. that was a long time ago.

Rob you make a good case. I would rather plant a tree in his name, or a grove of trees. Still, the funeral is going to happen. It's a community ritual, but it's only out of respect for my Dad and the fact that I want my Mom to continue to receive good care, that Im going. As long as I think, don't speak, the thoughts that I have, I won't get into trouble. It would be interesting to bring a whoopie cushion.

Daniel, inviting an old flame would be interesting but he would be rather shocked and mortified to know he's an old flame for sure. There's multiple reasons I had to get out of town. Even on the farm there's ears that hear and eyes that see in the dark. I hope they're all dead now, or gone, or their teeth have rotted out and they can't control their bowels any more. (Im not bitter, am I?)
Comment by Grace Fitzpatrick on August 18, 2010 at 6:13am
My dad recently died. I went to his funeral, but arrived too late in the day for the visitation. I did suck it up and put up with all the religious bs. My dad was religious and it meant something to him. I did not bow my head or kneel (my dad was catholic), but I was quietly respectful out of love for my dad even though we didn't agree on religion. My advice is to keep your mind on your dad and off everything else. I'm not sure why they asked you as his son to be a pallbearer. Usually, people beyond immediate family are asked. Those distant relatives may have stories to share with you about your father that you'll want to hear. Maybe your dad was happy where he was. I could never understand why my relatives never left Kansas, because I was aching to leave from the time I was a young child. However, I learned on my recent trip back, they are actually happy there. It surprised the heck out of me. Kansas is about the most boring place on earth as far as I'm concerned.

As someone who has recently lost her own father, I say go and put up with the bs. You can plan the trip to skip the visitation like I did. Many churches require closed casket funerals. My family was upset that I did not get to see the body, but I wasn't. I would rather remember my dad alive than in a casket. I flew for halfprice by going through Priceline. Shameless plug there, but I saved about $1,000 so it was worth it and made the trip back possible.

You can't redo this moment in time. If you can, go back for your dad. I did and it was a good decision for me. Not that it is for you. Ultimately, it is your decision. If you do go back, go back for your dad to show him this last act of love, not because it is what expected of you. If you keep your mind on your dad and off the religion and what everyone else expects, you can get through this - even the Mason stuff. The Masons must have meant a lot to him. These are his friends and it means a lot to them.

I am very sorry for your loss.
Comment by Rob van Senten on August 18, 2010 at 4:49am
The funeral is for the people that have lost a loved one. If you think that going there causes you grief and results in you being in uncomfortable situations then fuck it. Is a crappy funeral really a good way to remember your dad?

Why not spend the money on something that would make you feel better? If I were to lose somebody close a bottle of whiskey and a good friend would give me more solace then any funeral ceremony could ever give.

And of course my condolences.
Comment by Jason Spicer on August 18, 2010 at 2:29am
My condolences, Daniel the A.

Funerals are hard, and very often not for the reasons most people think. It's unfortunate that you have a role to play in this kabuki, but all you can really do is play it and move on. As to the wasted money, it could be worse. It could be a $100,000 wedding that should have gone into the purchase of a house for the newlyweds instead.
Comment by Daniel on August 18, 2010 at 1:38am
A funeral is not for the dead it is for the living.

I'm the bad guy here, I know but if Hollywood has taught me anything your well dressed and due for some sympathy so don't forget to invite your old flame along...
Comment by sacha on August 18, 2010 at 12:56am
Although I do not think you should attend, as your well-being and state of mind is much more important than theirs (at least to me), if it turns out that you are going to go, don't buy a suit.

suit rental
8115 NE Vancouver Mall Dr.
Vancouver, WA 98662

I wish you would not subject yourself to this funeral.
Comment by sacha on August 18, 2010 at 12:24am

I'm truly sorry that on top of the heartache of your dad dying, that you have this to look forward to. My first reaction is to tell you not to go. You don't care about these people, and I'm sure you care little about the way they feel about you. This isn't for your dad, and that was the only one important here, so why are you going? Not for your mum, from what I understand. I don't think your dad would want you to deal with this and be someone you are not and feel uncomfortable and angry on top of what you need to go through in order to come to terms with his death.

I know I would not attend, but that decision isn't for everyone. You could take the money you would spend on the flight, the accommodations, the suit (I'll come back to the suit), and do what you know you should do with the money (give it to the library that made your father happy). This seems like the only answer. These people do not care about you, or respect you, or what is important to you. Let them be who they are on their own. You have been through enough.

Do you see not attending in your choices at all?


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