It was the peaceful, painless death at home at age 87 we’d all like to have, but she wept large, noisy sobs at the closing of the casket. Crying like that over the death of an old man, especially in a room near the chapel where everyone could hear, is just not done. We may shed tears, but generally we conduct ourselves as if at a reception: quiet conversation, pleasant faces, and an absence of black clothing except among the funeral staff. Even the widow generally uses her handkerchief little, smiling and comforting others. To wail and display so much grief was a breach of etiquette, an embarrassment to the family.
“Hush! Be good, now!” the widow vainly whispered to her erring granddaughter whose mother was blushing and hovering, offering pink tissues from her purse packet.
The eldest son waited at the just‑closed casket to lead the family prayer. Receiving the line of viewers had taken them past the eleven o’clock starting time. Her noise was too loud to pray over.
“Must be having PMS” muttered another son to his wife who passed over a purse packet of yellow tissue when the pink was used up.
The funeral director cleared his throat, clearly hinting that people were waiting. Probably the organist was running out of prelude music. Still the wails continued.
The eldest son spoke to the mother of the girl, suggesting that she lead her out so they could go on. Then the unthinkable happened and the girl screamed, “No! No! You can’t have him! No! I want to die too!” and threw herself over the casket, crushing a very expensive floral display of red roses, white carnations, and palm fronds.
Now the mother, herself weeping, was pulling at the daughter’s shoulders. Someone muttered, “That girl must be on drugs,” foot tapping.
Now an aunt was on the other side of the granddaughter, the two women virtually carrying her out while she sobbed and sobbed. Then it was silent and the family prayer and funeral went on decorously and predictably.
All he had done was lead an honest, hardworking life in which he was instrumental in rearing two daughters and two sons. His life history contained no unexpected events or outstanding achievements except, perhaps, that bootlegged tribute sobbed out as the granddaughter was hustled to the door, “He’s my best friend!”