"Your biting sarcasm wounds me, Madam..."

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Family, death and beer.

Last night, I was guilted into going to a wake. The deceased was someone I had only met once or twice as a child, so this was not someone close to me or my family for that matter. He was...have to think about the family tree, here.... my second cousin's father-in-law. Right. Sort of a "wait, who died? who?" But I was a good girl and went with my mother, grandmother, brother and his girlfriend all the way to Glen Cove (about 45 minutes away) to make mom happy.

Apparently, "I don't do enough" with this part of the family. My (ur, second)cousin, Mary, has always been a wonderful person, and I like her very much. But her family.. is well, I don' t know. ...meh? I haven't liked their 3 children (uh... second cousins...once removed? I can never figure that shit out) since we were all little. The oldest daughter is 5 or 6 years younger than I am and has always been a snotty piece of shit, so I usually made a point of avoiding family gatherings involving them.*

Mom feels badly about that. She thinks my brother and I should make an appearance for, I don't know, representation purposes. Or maybe so that they know we're still alive. Whatever.

Firstly, I have never been to an Irish wake. Now I know that I have hated wakes simply because Italian wakes are boring as hell and fucking depressing. When we pulled into the parking lot last night, there were 20 or so people standing outside hanging around a cooler of beer, slinging back Heinikens while smoking and talking and laughing. The atmosphere inside the funeral home was very upbeat as well, with people talking and laughing - which, HELLO - doesn't happen in an Italian wake. Everything is always so somber and if you're stuck there for the full 3 hour session, twice a day for 2 or 3 days, is boring as fuck to the point where you start counting the flowers in the arrangements for some kind of stimulation. I don't mean to belittle my culture's traditions or anything, but jesus christ, can't we get a drink in here? The best part of an Italian wake is waiting to see if any members of the mafia make an appearance.***

Secondly, I haven't seen my cousins (the second cousins once removed) in years. Since they were, you know, kids. Since I was a kid. It so strange that they are real people now. Real people with jobs, cars, girl/boyfriends, graduating college. Weird. Very weird. In fact, the youngest of the three kids, who is about 15 now, didn't even recognize me.
Even though I had spent many years avoiding these people, I realize that I probably should have made more of an effort to see them. The live around the block from me, and I still never see them. Must do better.

Also I wonder if they're thinking about any of this. Probably not. It probably didn't faze them whatsoever. That girl always was a bitch...

*All this and Mary's husband is a Republican. Who runs for local elections. Who recently found out that I'm living in his district. And that I should vote for him because we're family, afterall**. Right. Maybe now the picture is clearer?

**Funnily enough, they hold fund raisers when he is running for something and always invite my and my mother to them. Mom usually goes strictly out of family obligation and buys something here and there. Though when she brings the catalogue home for me of whatever they were selling, we both kind of cringe at the fact that buying something from this catalogue is supporting the republican party. I had found something that I liked and asked for The Boy's opinion. He said, something to the effect of, if you like it, buy it. "Yeah, but this is for C's campaign fund...." His reply: "then don't you dare. We'll find it somewhere else."
We try not to be obvious about our lack of family support. Republicans...crikey.

***This apparently happened at one of my great uncle's wakes and I totally missed it - I miss everything, yo.


  • YAY I am first.
    I have often been suprised by how much fun a family funeral can be(apart from the obvious sad bit).
    Both my Grandma's where feisty fun women , and their wakes in there way were rather joyous events , a real celebration of all that was good about them.Mind you the priests eulogy in both cases was a bit odd , you were left wondering who the hell they were talking about...it certainly wasnt granny

    By Blogger BEAST, at 8/16/2006 12:37 PM  

  • Beast - Hi! thanks for coming by.
    I have not had fun funerals like you. they're always..eech. the priest at this one was so bizarre. Probably the least comforting or relevent eulogy i have ever heard. Was so uncomfortable.

    By Blogger claire, at 8/16/2006 2:12 PM  

  • yesh indeed
    which great uncle was that?
    where was the priest from anywho?

    By Anonymous anon M, at 8/16/2006 3:38 PM  

  • M - Uncle Joe, i think. Dad's favorite story is when Uncle Joey's "friends" came in to pay their respects at his wake. Who knows where the priest was from. My best guess is Africa.

    By Blogger claire, at 8/16/2006 3:51 PM  

  • aaak. hate funeral things; had too much of that as a kid. the last funeral i was at, i'm sitting in the family alcove during the service and one of the cousins commences to whoop and howl. I mean like the soundtrack to a tasteless comedy about funerals, just CRYING and HONKING and SNORKING and BOOO HOO HOO HOOOOOING....
    and i started cracking up. and i couldn't stop.
    so i had to bury my face in a handkerchief and pretend to cry too.
    god, it was horrible. it went on for hours, seemed like.
    you got off easy.

    By Blogger First Nations, at 8/16/2006 10:11 PM  

  • Yes, I've only really ever done Italian style and recently a Polish wake and funeral. The Polish was the most recent and not unlike an Italian one with the somber mood, no drunks, etc. However, it was for my best friend's grandmother and my sister and I were the only non-Poles at a Polish speaking church, which IS funny. No idea what the heck was being said. Later I asked my friend, "Hey! the only think I got out of it was 'chicha chicha chicha karumpkee,' what does it mean?" Apparently it means I make things up because she has no idea what I'm talking about.

    Ah well.

    By Blogger Christine, at 8/17/2006 7:41 AM  

  • FirstNations - i don't think i would have been able to keep from laughing, either and would've needed to excuse myself from the room. especially with the snorking. :)

    christine - TheBoy's aunt is married to a polish man and they speak to each other in polish normally no matter who else is around. I find it very hard to make anything out because they always sound like they're mumbling or mushing words together. i could definitely see where you would get chicka chicka karumpkee. there's a lot of karumpkee in polish. :)

    By Blogger claire, at 8/17/2006 8:23 AM  

  • i think it would be completely cool to attend a mob funeral.

    By Blogger First Nations, at 8/17/2006 11:46 AM  

  • fn - i think you're absolutely right, as long as you expected to be in attendance. Otherwise, you would be an 'outsider' and possibly not welcome, and then possibly made dead. In which case, it would be totally un-cool to go to a mob funeral.

    just saying.

    By Blogger claire, at 8/17/2006 11:52 AM  

  • Oh dear....you attended an Irish wake! You have crossed over to the 'dark side' betraying all the I-talians hold dear: public displays of grief, wailing, and good old fashioned gossiping.

    (I know this very well, since I too am from the Italian background.)

    Did they have 'dead relative' propped up with beer in hand last night? I know people of Irish nationality who have had this done to the deceased due to it being the last hurrah.

    I have never expierenced any oddities at any of the wakes I've ever been at. At Maureen's dad's wake her daughter who (was 9 at the time) burst in to tears because I didn't say 'hello' to her. Uh hel-lo! I didn't even know it was Julanne as the last time I had seen her before that, she was 5.

    At Uncle Frank's wake, I was in the hallway talking with friends, and a fistfight broke out, in the viewing room NEXT DOOR to where we were right in front of the casket. That was something to see. And of course mom thought it was me brawling with a relative (who shall not be named) so that was real comforting to know she thought I'd sink to that level.

    But here is my question: YOU? You've attended a mob funeral?

    By Blogger Orelinde_03, at 8/17/2006 12:56 PM  

  • orelinde - from what i understand, he was german/irish which was the only reason i could understand that they had all of the booze outside. he wasn't standing up in the corner or anything, so no.
    I have not been to a mob funeral, i was just saying that some members of 'the family' were in attendance at my great-uncle's wake.

    By Blogger claire, at 8/17/2006 1:52 PM  

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