June 15th, 2006 —
There is nothing great about coming home for a funeral. Funerals are meant to be sad, not uplifting, but in my family, funerals have quite the opposite effect. In my family, every time someone dies, it is expected that aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters, distant members of the family, and any one that just came into the family by way of marriage was expected to attend. It didn’t matter if you were close to the deceased or not, you had to be there. It was mandatory. It was respect. It was an example you had to set for the next generation. Rather than give you all the details, let me just share with you a few minutes of conversation from the last family reunion… I mean funeral.
Aunt Bertha: “Did you remember to buy the Yams for tomorrow’s lunch? You know Pauline can tell the difference between Yams and Sweet Potatoes. Ifn ya bought Yams, we’ll never hear the end of it.”
Aunt Gertie: “We’ll never hear the end of it?! I’m hearing it now and it ain’t even tomorrow. Yams taste just the same as Sweet Potatoes, they look the same and they go down the same, it ain’t no big difference. It’s just you trying to always be in charge of it all. When you pass on, what are we going to do? Who will cook the damn meal? Cause Lord knows that no matter who cooks it, it won’t make you happy, even if you are dead and buried.”
Cousin Savannah: “Now, Gertie, you shouldn’t be so short with Bertie. You know how she just likes everything just right. What’s the big deal? It’s not like we do this all the time.”
Cousin Aggie: “Thank the Lord we don’t or we’ll be attending two funerals back to back. ‘ Cause I know one of these days, one of these funerals is gonna lead to one of us whupping the other’s asses and I’m thinking I’m going to be next.”
Uncle Jeffrey, wrapping his arms around his wife, Aggie: “Oh hush now honey, you ain’t going no where. You gonna outlive us all.”
Uncle Stephan, leaning over and whispering in Jeffrey’s ear: “Uh Jeffrey? I don’t think she was talking about dying next. She’s talking about being the next one to kick someone’s ass and I’m getting my tickets for that now. I ain’t gonna miss this one. Been a long time in coming.”
Aunt Bertha, looking at both Uncles, giving them what the kids like to call the “Hairy Eyeball” stare: “Now the both of you hush and get out of this kitchen. We’ve got us some serious cooking to do. There will be a lot of people here tomorrow and we are already behind schedule.”
Uncle Jeffrey, shaking his head: “Don’t know why you ladies bother to cook when all the neighbors bring food with them anyways. Yams AND Sweet Potatoes, cooked every way you can think of. And who cares if Pauline can tell the difference, she dead now! Fresh hams, canned hams, heavy stews, watery stews, pies, cakes, the same stuff we all just spent a fortune buying to cook for the people that are gonna bring us the same damn thing from their home. Seems to me we can all use this time to clean out yesterdays big meal to make room for the rest of the stuff and I don’t have to hear about any one getting their asses kicked although that would sure be quite a change from the usual stuff going on around here. ”
I could go on and on but what’s the point? You get the idea. The whole entire family will gather in the kitchen for hours on end talking about the food they all need to prepare for the following days’ luncheon in honor of whom ever just died and for what? After everyone leaves, they’ll just fuss around the kitchen, storing all the food into containers and complaining about the waste of food before them. But those are the moments I do look forward to. You see; once every one is gone the cleaning begins. The family is more calmed down and the whole Yam and Sweet potato issue is revisited; which in my opinion is hilarious. Then I know, in a few hours, we will all be embracing each other saying our goodbyes as we leave to go home, making promises we will try to keep and won’t cause that’s just the way it is. It’s funny how the only time any one every remembers anything good or bad about someone is either at a funeral or a wedding and when it’s all said and done, the kisses become abundant, the hugs mighty full and the promises to see each other more often start anew. The bottom line is: Yams are Yams, Sweet potatoes are Sweet Potatoes but you can’t beat those hugs and kisses, somehow they just don’t seem the same at any other time.
Copyright © 2006 by Sonia Agron – Word count 834