Ed and I recently took the opportunity to brush up on our funeral crashing skills seeings how it’s been so long since the last one. Let me tell y’all how this went down.
Ed’s Great Aunt Maureen passed away so we loaded up the car and drove over to Memphis last week without telling our sweet Cousin Jeri that we were planning on attending the funeral. Not telling anyone you’re coming is the first rule of Funeral Crashing, so take note. The element of surprise works best for us because when you’re a Hammond, well you’ve probably been either evicted or taken away in cuffs from so many events that the fewer people who are prepared for your arrival, the better!
I have to be honest here, it’s been a long LONG time since Ed and I’ve been in a car together for any length of time and the last time it was more than a few hours, there were diapers that needed changing, if you get my drift. So I wasn’t too sure how this drive was going to go and, sure enough, by the time we were just the other side of Tulsa, Ed was fixing to be changed from a rooster to a hen. The man drove me absolutely insane by asking the same question every 30 minutes, “Look at those hills and trees! Can you imagine trying to come through there in a covered wagon?” Let’s just say that by the time we were crossing the Mississippi River, I was *this* close to tossing his butt over the bridge.
snuck into town arrived early enough on Saturday evening that we were able to sit in a Logan’s Roadhouse from 8:00-9:00 waiting on food before finally leaving and going across the parking lot to grab a burger. Rule #2 in Funeral Crashing is to get a good night’s rest so we tucked ourselves in at the hotel fairly early.
The next morning we arrived at the funeral home about a half hour before the funeral was starting and asked about the family, thinking we probably ought to find Cousin Jeri and let her know that the Kansas clan was officially represented. As we were asking the employee, we noticed this fine looking couple standing at the door and they were probably wondering why we were asking for the family since they were, in fact, the family! After we introduced ourselves we learned that we were standing before Cousin Jeri’s son, Alex, and his beautiful wife, Leslie.
This is where things starting getting a little strange. Well not really strange but just sort of Twighlight Zone-Ish.
You see, Alex and Leslie were kind as could be but the names of grandpa and Nan’s son or RB and all the Kansas folks wasn’t really registering with Alex – probably because he had his mind on more important matters, until we mentioned the farm. Then he said, “Wait a minute, do you have the blog? The Crazy Cow blog? I used to read that all the time!” He explained who we were then, officially, to his lovely wife and just like that……. we were in.
We followed them into the room and our hearts skipped a beat at the sight of our sweet Cousin Jeri greeting the arrivals right down center at the casket. Where she got the strength to do this, I’ll never know. We made our way down the center aisle and could feel the eyes upon us – it’s the Flynn nose.
Now let me explain.
You see, Ed’s a Flynn and the Flynn’s have this nose and it’s sort of handed down from generation to generation and, well there’s just no disguising it! I guarantee that if you put a hundred people in a room, you can pick out any Flynn in a snap. So we’re walking in and it’s clear that Ed’s a Flynn but……. who is he? Then Jeri turned and saw him, went into his arms, and spent several minutes hugging us both. Looking at the two of them, it’s obvious they’re related but how? Could Ed be Jeri’s love-child? A long lost relative who’d been shunned for years only to re-appear? A possible scandal?
After a few minutes with Jeri, we quietly stepped over to the pews across from the family and watched the video of the family photos. A short time later, Jeri spoke with Alex who came over to let us know that his Mama was insisting we sit with the family. Of course we obeyed and looked at the full pews asking Alex where he’d like us to move to. ”Why don’t you just come right up front with my wife and I,” was his reply and let me tell you, the scandal was going full force now to see these strangers-but-obviously-a-Flynn moving over to the family side!
Our Funeral Crashing was going marvelously well.
The service was beautiful and heart-breaking but yet……. exactly what a service should be. Her life was truly celebrated and Jeri herself gave the eulogy, solid like an oak tree in her strength – her Mama would have been proud! A gentlemen she’d worked with for several decades and informed him he would, in fact, be taking the job she’d offered and he’d turned down, gave a second eulogy that was absolutely inspiring. Heads nodded as he let us know that if there were any Boards to serve on in Heaven, she was surely already serving on them. Aunt Maureen’s great granddaughter then sang a beautiful song for us, such strength we witnessed that day!
After the service Alex was kind enough to invite us to his mother’s for food and celebration, since we’re family and all – of course we agreed. We arrived at the house a short time later and poor Jeri’s daughter just couldn’t take another minute, she had to come and ask who these folks were that seemed to be stalking her Mama! Once the introductions were made and she realized we weren’t just some strangers off the street showing up for the free food, we were welcomed with open arms, literally.
Now let me tell about southern families, what little I know about them, once you’re in, you’re in. You’ve never witnessed hospitality, graciousness, or true kinship until you’ve discovered your southern family branch let me tell you! The entire clan was so very kind to us and we sat around telling stories for many hours, thoroughly monopolizing Cousin Jeri right there in her own kitchen. The family would come and go, listen for a while, join in, then go back to the other room and allowed us to have this time with her. It was such a privilege to meet them, all of them were just so wonderful, honestly we felt very much like family and we’re so glad we made the trip.
We stayed in Memphis another day to sightsee then went home through Rose Bud, Arkansas stopping at the historical cemetery and driving over Beckett Mountain along the way while taking a ton of pictures. We also stopped at a fabulous little coffee roasterie and I’ve got quite a story about that place!
But that’s for another day…….. I’ll finish today by reflecting more on the strength of southern women and the love of distant family.