Organ music was playing softly and the beautiful floral arrangements from various well wishers surrounded the deceased gentleman who really looked . . . well, . . . dead. The friends and family began to fill the chapel and the grieving widow sat on the front row directly in front of the casket. This was normally the standard place for the grieving family to sit. I said that I had to wear many hats. At that moment I assumed the role of the nurse and Kleenex distributor. Tears flowing and emotional speakers were the order of the night. Just your average wake . . . until we neared the end of the service.
No one mentioned to me the circumstances surrounding the deceased death until earlier that evening. It seems that he was cheating on his wife with a younger woman and died in the arms of his mistress while “in the process of” if you get my meaning. Anyway, as the friends were passing the casket to give their final farewells and extensions of condolences to the family, this beautiful woman approached the casket, paused, smiled, touched his face, wiped tears form her eyes, then turned to the grieving wife. As I stood in the hallway next to the chapel entrance, I was clueless to any problem that existed between the two . . . until then. A co-worker whispered in my ear, “that’s the other woman.” As “she”, the mistress, passed me in the hallway, I noticed her enter the main office. I wanted to go see why she went into the office but I had to turn my attention back to the grieving widow who was about to approach the casket to say her final goodbye.
With Kleenex ready in hand, I stepped closer. The widow sobbed gently as she approached his side and lovingly began to caress his cheek. I am sure it was hard and cold. As she stroked his face, I heard her speaking.
“Why did you leave me? Why did you do this to me? How could you hurt me this way?”
I and others present noticed the elevation of the volume in her voice and intensity in her words. She continued to repeat those questions but now . . . SHE WAS GRABING THE BODY, YELLING, AND JERKING IT UP AND DOWN!!
“Why did you cheat on me?”
The widow screamed as she slapped his face, continuing to jerk the body about. I could not believe what was happening. This woman was beating up a corpse and asking him why he cheated on her. His body was stiff but his arms still possessed the slight ability to flop around. I thought that I would wet my clothes from laughing within. The funeral attendants quickly grabbed her and returned her to the front row. The owner, who was in the corner observing the entire emotional outburst, approached the widow. She had a motherly air about herself and had little patience for foolishness. She cleared her throat and spoke.
“You need to get a hold of yourself Suga. The man is dead and what he did to you is over. Let it go and move on with your life. This is not the way to behave. Not the way! Boys, take her home. I’ll contact you tomorrow morning before we come to pick you up for the service.”
I was frozen where I stood. You only see things like this on television and yet . . . I had just witnessed the most ridiculous, hilarious, and troubling thing EVER!!! One of the drivers took the widow home and I went to my desk in the front office. I was not aware that the mistress was still in there. As I approached my desk, I saw someone sitting in the managers’ office. The door was slightly drawn but not closed. I could hear a conversation taking place but could not believe what I was hearing. This woman was upset because she was not going to receive a flag for the deceased. Gerald, one of the funeral directors sounded nervous. He was a soft spoken man and not half bad to look at.
“Mam. The gentleman was a veteran, yes, however, only the wife receives the flag.”
I looked around just in case somebody caught me listening, which was a TOTALLY unprofessional thing to do, but hey. These were unusual circumstances and I was NOT about to miss anything. Gerald continued to listen to this woman plead her case. He repeated to her that the flag only went to the widow or parent of the deceased, regardless of the circumstances surrounding the death. She was not giving up and continued to argue that she meant more to the deceased than his wife did and that she deserved a flag to remember him by. I heard Gerald move toward the door so I opened a ledger on my desk to appear to be inputting some information. Gerald apologized to her and repeated for a third time what he had already told her about the flags. He opened the door, told her that she had his sympathy, and gestured toward the exit. I could see the rage in her face but she remained in control. As she left the funeral parlor, I could only wonder who would be her next victim and would we see him here at The Last Stop Funeral Parlor in the near future?