Friday, August 7, 2015

Story 94: The Happening Wake

            Scene is in a funeral home: beloved wife/mother/grandmother/great-grandmother/great-great-grandmother/aunt/great-aunt/cousin Esmeralda is being waked by her entire family and her two surviving friends.  She is surrounded by photos and flowers; everyone is very sad.  Suddenly, party music is heard.
            “Uh-oh,” first cousin once-removed Margie said.
            “What is it?”  Great-nephew Alex asked.
            “It’s the goddaughter Monique.”
            The front doors of the funeral home burst open: Monique led the way with a boombox in one hand and a bubble sprayer in the other.  She was followed by an entourage of caterers.
            “All right, family, let’s get this wake started!”
            Slices of pizza were passed around as a drinks station was assembled in the back of the viewing room.  Monique set the boombox on the table holding the Mass cards as the funeral home employees dispersed to soothe the crowd as they do best.
            Monique went over to the coffin and gazed fondly on Esmeralda.
            “Godmomma,” Monique began, “you will be missed.  You were on this Earth for 107 years, and not a day went by in the last 30 of those where you wouldn’t ask the Lord to bring you on home.  Well, He finally did, and now you’re happy, so we’re having a party to celebrate.”
            “But this is a wake,” Esmeralda’s son Tobias said.
            “It was certainly asleep when I got here – let’s inject some life into it already!”  Monique turned up the volume on the music and the caterers began to dance.
            “No, she’s most definitely not a blood relation,” cousin Mark muttered to his wife.
            “To celebrate her life,” Monique addressed the gathering again, “I want you all to come up here and tell good stories about our beloved departed!  I’ll start: I remember when I was 6 years old, I was riding my bike, and I fell off, and Godmomma Esmeralda looked at me and said, ‘Monique,’ she said, ‘ you gotta get back up on that bike,’ she said, ‘`else that bike will always have one over on you.’  So I got back up on that bike and I rode on into life!”
            “Yes!”  Several people in the crowd were starting to get into it.  At some point during this, the boombox had started playing Gospel music, which always gets a crowd into the spirit.
            “I rode on into adventure!”
            “I rode smack into her car, but not too hard, so it didn’t get scratched.  And Godmomma Esmeralda smiled, and gave me milk and cookies!”
            “So who’s next?”
            “Ooh, I have one!”  First cousin once-removed Margie went up to the front.  “I remember Esmeralda parasailing at age 90, a bit past the age recommended by professionals, and she fell into the water when the tether broke loose, and she decided to swim to shore instead of waiting for the boat to pick her up, just because she thought it would’ve been too much of a hassle!”
            “Yeah!”  The crowd now was clapping in time with the music.
            The testimonials went on for another hour, until the local priest interrupted to offer the prayers for the deceased’s immortal soul.  This sobered the spirit for a bit – Monique respectfully lowed the volume on the boombox a smidgen, and people were surreptitiously tapping their toes – but when the priest finished, the next relative stood up to testify, and so on until the funeral home had to shut all that down because it was closing time.
            Monique stood next to the casket again.  “You were a beautiful family audience tonight.  Thank you for sharing – see you all at the funeral tomorrow!”
            Everyone clapped and cheered as she left with her supplies and her caterers.
            “This was, by far, the best wake I’ve ever been to!”  Great-nephew Alex said.
            “Yeah,” agreed son Tobias. “I hope mine's like this, too.”


  1. sounds like an "Irish Wake"; a good time was had by all and the deceased was fondly remembered as it should be.