Evan Kessler Dot Com

The Home of the Brave

There’s No F-U-N in Funeral?

Posted by evankessler on January 14, 2008

The title is not meant to suggest that I actually had fun at my Grandfather’s funeral. When I returned home to Rockland County on Wednesday evening with my brother in tow, I was not really looking forward to the potential of an overly emotional family reunion. However, when we arrived home to my home in Pomona via the taxi we caught at the bus stop, we were greeted by a surprisingly together group in relatively good spirits, considering the reason we were all gathered together. My brother and I entered the house to find my mother and my Aunt Melanie, along with my Uncle Alan’s fiancee Veronika setting up the dining room for a family dinner. My stepdad came in the door next and minutes later my cousin Erika, along with my uncle Alan walked through the door with a vast array of Chinese cuisine from our favorite local restaurant of that ilk. M

We sat down at the table and had a general pleasant conversation filled with a lot of laughter (mostly at the expense of my Uncle Alan) and general inappropriateness from my brother. He was recounting the story of his model shoot earlier in the day and felt it necessary to impart that the model whom he had shot had the biggest breasts on a 16 year old model he had ever seen. I’m sure this is information that everyone wanted to know…especially the female half of the table. It never ceases to amaze me the amount of information he is willing to share without taking the time to consider his audience. My uncle Doug showed up an hour into the meal and joined in the conversation as if he didn’t miss a beat.

The rest of Wednesday evening was spent catching up with my family as it had probably been close to two years since I had seen my Aunt Melanie, cousin Erika and Uncle Doug. I always seem to enjoy seeing my mom’s sister since we always seem to find the same things funny. I should probably go out to California and visit her since I have so much damn free time. Now only if I had the money. It had been even longer since seeing my Uncle Alan and his fiance, possibly more than than six years. Perhaps, I should go to Arizona too. Besides seeing my family there was another positives to being home in Rockland. Seeing as I was in the midst on my two week on-the-wagon, no drinking streak, being in the suburbs and not being within walking distance of a bar was going to knock a few days off of my required sobriety streak without a problem.

I woke up bright and early Thursday morning, around 8:30. My brother was sleeping on my lower pull out bed. He recommended sleeping another half hour, but I sprung out of bed to get an early start as I knew there’d be plenty of people showering and we had to be out of the house by 10:15am to drive to the funeral. When I walked downstairs, and saw the California contingent (Aunt Melanie, Uncle Doug, Cousin Erika) along with my stepdad enjoying breakfast. I partook in some Rice Krispies that my Uncle Alan had asked for them to buy for breakfast. However, he was staying at a neighbors house so he was not present at breakfast yet.

Shortly after my breakfast had been finished Alan and his fiance arrived to grab some pre-funeral food. Alan grasped the box of Rice Krispies and was dismayed that it was nearly empty. He whined that there was barely enough left for him to make a bowl and seemed resigned to begrudgingly have a tiny bowl of rice krispies even though his damned relatives didn’t think to save him any.

Little did he know, or did I know, my Aunt, his younger sister, had played a trick on him, emptying out the majority of the box into a tupperware container. Alan failed to see the humor in this as he failed to see the humor in other situations over his 3 days in New York. It was funny to me and just about everyone else though.

At 10:15 we left in 2 cars to the Gates of Zion cemetery, where my Father and Grandmother were both buried, and what was to be the final resting place for my Grandfather. The car I rode in with Alan and Veronika was the 2nd to arrive at the site. Alan’s daughter, my cousin Michele arrived before us with her boyfriend Jeff and my 2nd cousin Liz and Aunt Silvia (my grandmother’s sister?). We were soon followed by my mother and the rest of the group. The first order of business was to put rocks on the gravestones of our loved ones who had already been buried. I’m not exactly sure of the meaning of this ritual but I’ve been engaging in that tradition for the last 16 years or so, so there’s no reason to stop now.

Rather than have the ceremony in the indoor worship area we elected to have the rabbi speak outside next to the plot because we didn’t really have ample pall bearers and because it was actually kind of nice outside. When it was time to take the casket out of the Hearse, it was almost a disaster. The guys from the funeral service and cemetery seemed to have trouble handling the casket and almost dropped it. However, my Uncle’s fiance’ was quick on her feet to help them put it on the gurney thingy.

Now I’m not a huge fan of my religion or any religion for that matter, but the Rabbi that officiated over the ceremony was fantastic. She was very soft spoken and had a certain reassuring quality to her voice that was almost pleasant to listen to. I don’t know if I should feel guilty about this, but I actually enjoyed the funeral. There was a sense of warmth that came over me as my Grandfather’s coffin was lowered (though with some difficutly) into the ground alongside the woman whom he spent the majority of his years. They were together again and it just seemed right.

Following the part where the coffin was placed 6 feet below the surface, was the cover it in dirt portion. After mom, her siblings, and my brother shoveled dirt over the wooden box containing the body of my grandfather I did my duty. I was followed by the majority of the 18 remaining mourners on hand. However, the aim at this point was to cover the casket and since we all could do so with one or two scoops, I went back for 2nds. However, it would take awhile. My cousin’s boyfriend was right in front of me shoveling away. He didn’t do just one or two…he must’ve shoveled 15 or 20 times. I wasn’t sure if he was trying to prove to my cousin or uncle his dedication to our family or if he just really liked shoveling. I kept expecting him to put the shovel down but he kept going. Finally, he stopped and then I managed to get a few decent shovels in but I don’t think I got more in than that guy…though I did go for a bit.

When the shoveling was complete we all headed back to my family’s home in Pomona and partook in a little mourning lunchtime. There was an array of bagles with various spreads and cold cuts, lots of cookies, and very little healthy fare. We sat around the house discussing general family stuff and getting reacquainted and just enjoying each others company. We even took a few family photos, the best one being below.

An array of Parises, Kesslers, Streeters, and Petersons

The next few days were pretty similar. The lot of us barely left the house. We sat around while people visited and offered their condolences. Most of the conversation seemed upbeat. We passed around my Grandfather’s bronze star and read the accompanying commendations printed on tissue paper and dated in the 1940’s. There were a lot of good memories and a fair share of conversations not about the events of the past few weeks. I talked enough about my book idea that now I have to follow through with it, or else plenty of people are going to be very disappointed…including myself.

My brother left after the funeral on Friday; My uncle Alan and his girlfriend onFriday afternoon and myAunt Melanie and Uncle Doug left early saturday morning. My cousin Erika and I were the last two immediate family members left at my mom’s house and we left Saturday afternoon.

I arrived back home in Brooklyn just before the beginning of the first Saturday NFL divisional playoff game. I could’ve gone to the local bar or attempted to see if anyone wanted to watch the game but my initial instinct was to not go out because I didn’t want to be around alcohol. Instead I went to the gym and watched some of the Packers-Seahawks game as Rockland County native Ryan Grant ran all over the Seahawks in the Snow and led the Packers to a 42-20 win. I almost met up with Thea for the 2nd game but ended up just watching at home as the Pats dismantled the Jaguars 31-20.

Sunday morning I woke up at 10am, relatively anxious to watch the Giants battle the Cowboys in the NFC Divisional playoffs. Unfortunately, I had to sit through the Chargers-Colts game first. I sat in my desk chair until the late 3rd quarter when I decided to meet Heather and Thea at the Lighthouse, even though I told them I wasn’t drinking. I was worried when I got there that they would force alcohol on me and I would fold in my quest to go 2 weeks without the booze. However, when I arrived the bar owner, Tommy announced to me that I wasn’t allowed to drink. She was surprisingly on board with me being on the wagon. This made my bar stay much easier.

I watched on as the Chargers pulled out an upset victory against the defending champs setting up an AFC Chapmpionship game at Foxboro against the Patriots. When the game ended I had several minutes to bite my nails out of anxiety and anticipation for the Giants -Cowboys game.
When that game began I was all systems go. I pretty much ignored everyone around me and intently zoned out on the game. It was completely thrilled when Amani Toomer scored a touchdown, but not exactly enthused once the Cowboys went ahead 14-7 with less then a minute left in the 1st half. Luckily, that was short lived, as Eli Manning marched the Giants to the End Zone for another Toomer TD, to tie the game before the halftime gun sounded.

I was feeling good but not exactly optimistic, but the Giants managed to step up
and outscored the Cowboys 7-3 in the 2nd half thanks to a good RW McQuarters punt return and a Brandon Jacobs Touchdown run. RW McQuarters also came up big on the final Dallas offensive play intercepting Tony Romo to clinch the game. With the Giants win, they are now slated to face the Green Bay Packers as their final obstacle en route to Super Bowl XLII. I’m not overly optimistic about their chances on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field, but they have won 9 in a row on the road so there’s always that. Even if they do lose next week, my favorite football team has certainly exceeded my expectations. By my estimation, their season has already been a huge success…and as Sunday comes to a close, I am smiling.

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One Response to “There’s No F-U-N in Funeral?”

  1. Anonymous said

    Hey Evan! That was nice and so true of what you wrote about our few days in New York. Uncle Alan is hilarious…so glad you wrote about the rice krispie fiasco.

    let me know when you come to Indy for the NCAA Hall of Fame, right? =)

    Your cuz,

    erika

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