Monday, February 20, 2006

On the way home from the funeral...
Posted by Sam at 7:29 PM | tags: ,

Let's lighten the mood a bit, shall we? But first, I'd like to send a heartfelt "thank you" out into the blogosphere... in the form of an eHug, of course: ((((((hug)))))). The comments and emails that I received concerning the loss of my zaideh, were absolutely wonderful. They warmed my soul and truly made me feel loved. Thank you, peeps. Thank you so much.

The funeral limousine was a slick black Cadillac, perhaps two or three years old. It had three rows of seating and could accommodate eight people. That configuration being three in the back, three in the middle, and two up front. One of the front seats was obviously reserved for the driver. The other, under less cramped conditions, is usually left vacant. However, there were seven of us that needed to fit into the limo: my mom and dad, bubbie (yiddish for "grandmother"), my aunt and cousin, my little sister, and of course, me.

Seven of us, plus one driver, equals all seats occupied (I make math fun!). So, who amongst the seven passengers do you think had the distinct privilege of sitting up front with the limo driver? Well, clearly it wasn't going to be my bubbie. She had just lost her husband, and I'm sure the last thing that she wanted to do was to sit next to a stranger and be forced to make small talk. It surely wasn't going to be my dad. He had just lost his father... and besides, he needed to console his mother. My mom? Well, she needed to console my dad. My aunt, she's in the same boat as my dad... just lost father, needs to console mother... and my cousin needed to console his mom (my aunt). This left my little sister and me... and it's a proven fact that she whines better than I do. So evidently, that front seat was booked in my name: Sam (the lowest member on the family totem pole). It must have been fate intervening then, for Frank the limo driver and I were destined to be best of buds... front seat comrades... fine funeral friends.

Our friendship wasn't instantaneous though. No, I fought his charming advances tooth and nail. Despite my rank in the family hierarchy, I too had suffered a great loss, and I too deserved a ride of solitude. In fact, on the way to the cemetery, Frank the limo driver tried to lure me in with casual chatter, but I just wasn't having it. He mumbled something about gas prices as we passed a gas station. To which I replied, "Yep, gas prices are going down." He turned to me and said, "No, I said that gas prices are going up." I think at that point he realized that I wasn't really into the whole conversation thing. It wasn't until the after-the-cemetery ride home that we hit it off.

When the funeral concluded, I reluctantly took my place riding shotgun in the limo. The rest of the family got in too, followed shortly after by Frank the limo driver. "We all ready to go?" he inquired. No one really answered, so I took it upon myself to be the spokesman for the group. "Yeah... I think so," I replied. He put the Caddy in gear and off we went.

I can't exactly remember how we started talking, but eventually, I found myself being told by Frank the limo driver, that he is "only a limo driver by day." By night, Frank works as sort of a freelance mortician... and he's totally into it! He talks as if it's a hobby for him. Anyway, during the nighttime hours, Frank is the one responsible for preparing the bodies for burial. But Frank doesn't just work at this funeral home. Nope. Apparently Frank is quite good at his craft. So good, that he is one of the area's most sought after freelance morticians. In fact, in one single evening, Frank can be found to be working at up to three different funeral homes. I guess that in the mortician business, working the night shift is not really an issue. I mean, it's not as if the dead are going anywhere. They don't have anything better to do. It's not like they need to go home and sleep. And apparently, neither does Frank.

So, in grueling detail, I learned about the embalming process, and how to prepare a body for cremation... essentially I received a crash course in what it takes, under various conditions, to manipulate a dead body and prepare it for its next step. I mean, did you know that in certain situations, it's actually necessary to cut muscles or tendons that have rigor mortised the body into an unnatural or unwanted position!? Weird. Oh... and you gotta hear about this process called "cavity embalming..." actually, nevermind. I'll spare you of that grisly account.

After a long, enthusiastic, and thoroughly interesting conversation with my new best friend, I felt compelled to stop him, mid-sentence, and ask, "Frank, how did you get so into this line of work?" He paused, thought for a moment, glanced out of the window, and answered introspectively, "I guess I've just always had a thing for corpses."

And there you have it. Frank the limo driver has always had a thing for corpses. Yep, corpses. But not only does Frank have a thing for corpses, he feels entirely comfortable telling someone he has just met about his thing for corpses. It was as if having a thing for corpses was like having a thing for... I don't know, hamburgers, or something.

When we arrived back at the house, I wished Frank luck in all his future endeavors. He gave me a genuine smile, shook my hand, and was on his way. I watched the limo roll down the street and followed my family inside. And then, promptly washed my hands.

Comments: 2 | Post a Comment | Permalink

At my grandfather's funeral I tried to claim shotgun in the hearse but my cousin Christopher beat me to it, so I called shotgun in my cousin Patrick's car...so I was the second coolest pallbearer at the funeral.

Comment By TheDarkLordDerfla on February 21, 2006 8:21 AM

who doesnt have a thing for corpses? honestly. im just suprised the driver is so vocal about it.

tom k.

Comment By Anonymous on February 21, 2006 1:45 PM

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Sam Who!?
Sam is an amazing and humble guy. Once, he rushed into a burning building, up six flights of stairs to save a kitten from certain death. He speaks eight languages, has mastered three varieties of martial arts, is a wine expert, and is a pulitzer prize winning author. Sam is an international heart-throb who prefers a quiet evening at home knitting afghans for the homeless, to the go-go, glitz and glamor of the party scene. I think the day he won the silver medal for ballroom dancing at the 98 olympics was the happiest of his life. Pretty impressive for a guy who never finished the 8th grade. - Carrie, 04
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