I had a very gentle introduction into the world of funerals. The first
funeral I ever went to was in 1979. I was working at the Duplex Nursing
Home in Boston and a man there by the name of Albert Brown became ill, was
taken to the hospital and died, all in short order. He was 96 and had lived
a long, healthy life. His time had come and he went peacefully. I asked
around to see if anyone from the home wanted to go to the funeral and one
man did: Arthur Wallace.
On the appointed day I borrow a car and we set off for the cemetery where
the graveside service is supposed to be. I get lost on the way and the trip
takes longer than expected. Arthur spends the entire trip offering a
running commentary on billboards, skirt lengths and problems with his
hearing aid, which he is constantly trying to repair by poking it with any
type of pointed object - usually a pen. And all the while he chews on a
cigar, which appears to be wet at both ends.
We finally get to the cemetery. I park the car and, holding Arthur's arm,
walk with him across the wet leaves that cover the ground. There are three
people already there: two elderly women, distant relatives of Mr. Brown's,
and the minister, who, after we all introduce ourselves, delivers his brief
eulogy. He then asks if anyone else would like to say anything in
remembrance. One of us does: Arthur Wallace. He steps forward, holding his
cigar stub at his side, and says:
"Albert Brown was a good man. He had the room next to mine. Funny thing
though, he didn't like bananas. When his tray came up for lunch, if there
was a banana on it, he'd give it to me. Now, I like a banana, I like a
banana okay. A banana is my number two fruit. But my number one fruit is a
big, mild pear."
That was the end of the first funeral I ever went to.
from Canopic Jar #15, 2005