I collect two things, cookbooks and etiquette books new and old. One of my favorite books is a combination. It is called “Being Dead is no Excuse – The Official Southern Ladies Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral” by Gayden Metcalfe and Charlotte Hays. This is no small thing. Really, funerals are one of the things we do really well in the South. As the aforementioned book says:
“Friends and family begin arriving with covered dishes, finger foods, and sweets as soon as word is out that some body has died”.
This is why all good Southerners keep a can of cream of mushroom soup in the pantry. You never know when you will need to make a covered dish casserole for a grieving family.
After my dear Daddy’s premature demise, my Mama remarried another wonderful man who happens to be a Baptist minister. They have great funeral stories. When the hearse wouldn’t start for the ride to the cemetery at one funeral, they took it in stride. They loaded the loved one in the back of one of the pall bearer’s new red pickup truck and with pall bearers on either side they led the rest of the bereaved to the cemetery.
When we were leaving the church after my Daddy’s funeral we noticed three elderly women in the foyer crying their eyes out. We didn’t think that was strange because Daddy was a wonderful, well-loved man. However, later when we were talking about it, we realized that none of us knew who the ladies were. Daddy was buried in our home town but we had all moved away long ago so we were not familiar with the current professional funeral goers but we appreciated them showing up to show Daddy their respect just the same, bless their hearts.
I have had some great times at the home of the deceased, laughing and remembering the loved one and catching up with people I hadn’t seen in ages. Although these are sad occasions, they are rarely without some moments of levity. I recommend the “Being Dead is No Excuse” book to anyone, Southern or not. Of course, if you are not Southern, some of it may make no sense to you. If you are Southern, you will probably be nodding your head and laughing out loud.