Was It A Suicide Or Was It A Woman Scorned?


He described it as the funeral from hell. I can truthfully say that I’ve never witnessed or been a part of that kind of experience. I’ve heard horror stories of things that happen at funerals, but I have no first hand knowledge. All I’ve got to say about the preacher who shared his story is that he remained amazingly calm through what could have been a very unsettling set of circumstances.

The only positive thing he said about the funeral is that it was one of those occasions where the only appropriate thing to share was to brag about God. There was simply nothing about the departed that seemed worthy of highlighting or bringing to anyone’s attention.

As was his custom, the pastor entered the chapel area at the funeral home from the side door. From his vantage point, he did not have a view of the front side of the casket, but he could see folks as they entered the chapel. He didn’t know much about the young man who died apart from the fact that his death was an act of suicide.

One of the things that he immediately found a little troublesome was the number of people who entered the chapel area, sat down briefly, looked up at the casket and then stood and walked out the door. The alarm bells were going off in his head, but he didn’t yet have enough information to have any sense of cause and effect.

If yours were the belief that the preacher is the guy orchestrating the order of service at a funeral, you’d be wrong. Generally, the pastor has some idea of the order of activities, but not always. First up was the brother of the departed. He raised his filled glass to propose a toast to his brother. “How the ‘@#$%#’ am I supposed to get through this without this (referring to the contents of the glass)? He then gulped it down.

You can imagine what the preacher was thinking? Actually, you probably can’t. He was experiencing some level of empathy for the brother dealing with his grief in the only manner he knew. Obviously if it provided any relief it was only temporary.

Before the program moved farther, someone from the second row started stomping his feet and verbally invited the crowd of other members from their motorcycle club to do the same. Collectively they joined in a chant in honor of the departed. By now, the preacher was feeling a little anxious (very anxious is probably more descriptive.) As people stomped their feet, clapped their hands and chanted, the noise level grew louder and louder. This was proving to be a disaster. In this kind of environment it would be easy to totally lose control of the crowd. Yet, when the chant was over, order was restored.

Next up was a pictorial overview of the young man’s life. Normally, you don’t expect that in the midst of the funeral service, but maybe so. However, there was a troubling aspect to the pictorial representation. It was then that the preacher remembered he didn’t share with me the full back story. Allegedly the young man killed himself because he was caught cheating on his wife. Since she was still his wife, she was the one responsible for the funeral service.

You’ve probably heard the expression: “There is nothing like a woman scorned.” Trust me that could have been a contributing factor to the preacher’s perception that this was a funeral from hell. Toward the end of the pictorial presentation of the young man’s life, there were a number of pictures of him with his arm around a woman. “Busted!” They were not pictures of the man and his wife”. However, the two of them looked, shall we say: “Quite cozy?” Reportedly, the primary reason the man took his own life was that he was caught cheating on his wife.

I’m not the sharpest Crayola in the box, but I wasn’t buying it. I’ve watched too many episodes of Cannon P.I. on CBS when I was much younger. Do you remember him? Frank Cannon was a detective with the Los Angeles Police Department. However, he retired after the deaths of his wife and son in a car accident. He later became a private investigator. The cause of death of Cannon’s wife and child was not clear through the first four seasons of the show. The first episode of the fifth and final season of the series revolves around Cannon’s investigation of the deaths, and he finally finds out why they were killed.

I turned to the preacher and said: “Problem solved. This was not a suicide. This was murder and the scorned wife got away with it.” That makes a lot more sense than his being overwhelmed with regret. Trust me, he wasn’t that kind of guy.

At the close of the service, the preacher stepped around to the front of the casket to greet or offer support to folks as they walked passed the casket. It was then that the dots connected in his head. The “Harley Davidson” casket had the words: “Final Farwell” painted across the front. Actually, “Final Farwell” isn’t the two words that were written. The message did include two words. You can only imagine. Actually, I hope you can’t imagine, but the two words were not for a family friendly audience.

By this point in the preacher’s story, I had to admit. It really was the funeral from hell. But wait, there is more to his story. When they got to the cemetery one other surprise awaited the preacher. Instead of starting the committal portion of the service in a timely fashion, there was one other surprise in store. The director of the funeral home said: “This is going to be a little different. The folks on motorcycles want to spin out around the grave and sling dirt into the opening. The preacher handled it well. He turned to the funeral director and said: “I’m done” and walked away.

I guess you’ve got to know when to hold them, know when to fold them and know when to walk away. It is a sad story. The preacher was right, it was the funeral from hell.

All My Best!



Whatcha Doin’ At The Courthouse?


Some mornings as I make my way to work through the early morning darkness, I am content to drive in silence.  Other mornings, I need a little more stimulation to get my thought processes engaged.  On occasion I opt to listen to talk radio. I know.  I know.  It has to be a character flaw.  I’m hesitant to recommend it, but if you’ve not listened to Booker, Alex and Sara In the Morning -Mix 94.7, you might give them a try.

In the early morning hours, I’m obviously easily amused. One of the segments they include is “Whatcha Doin’ at the Courthouse?”  Booker simply does a “man on the courthouse steps” interview and asks people what they are doing there.  Some of the responses are disturbing.  I started to add funny, but that seems highly inappropriate.  I am constantly surprised by the lack of recognition related to the long-term negative effects of having a criminal record. Cognitively, they don’t get it.

I know a young man who has made a misstep or two related to driving under the influence.  I probably should do a better job of counting.  In reality, the number of occurrences is probably more than two, but less than six. I really can’t remember, but it always saddens me to think of his circumstances. He not only has served time for his lapses in using prudent judgment, but he is discovering that having a criminal record doesn’t play well with potential employers.  They simply gloss over his employment application without giving it much regard.

For two or three years he was involved in an academic program attempting to earn a college degree.  I may be wrong, but it is my opinion that he received less than credible advice from his college counselor.  The counselor encouraged him to pursue his dreams without counting the costs associated to having a criminal history that would potentially be seen as a roadblock from being a serious job consideration.

I did my best sell on encouraging him to pursue vocational training. After all, if you learn to weld, you will potentially have a job for life.  His college counselor obviously did a better job of capturing his interests.  He encouraged him to pursue a degree in psychology.  Guess what?  A degree in psychology and a rap sheet that covers a full page leave you unemployed regardless of your GPA.

When I was a kid growing up my mother often talked about my permanent record.  The first time I rolled through a stop sign and received a ticket, I was wishing they would lock me up.  It would have been more humane than the lecture I received from my mother.

The other disturbing thing about “Whatcha Doin’ at the Courthouse” is the responses that parents of young adults make regarding their children’s circumstances.  They, too, seemingly don’t connect the dots and recognize the choices being made can potentially be the catalyst for choices one day making choices.  Very sad.

One day this past week, I was listening to the talk show and Sara mentioned that she’d learned something from her brother.  He had been dating a girl that he was totally smitten with; however, the relationship never seemed to work out satisfactorily.  He felt jilted and devalued most of the time.  He finally connected the dots and realized the relationship was going nowhere.  Consequently, the next time she sent him a text message, he made a one-word response, “Unsubscribe”.  She sent him another message. He responded with, “Unsubscribe”.  Over the course of the next several days, every attempt the girlfriend (I guess former girlfriend is more accurate) made, his response was the same.  Finally she got the message.

Sara bemoaned the fact that she had not been clever enough to come up with something similar on an occasion or two.  What about you?  Are their people in your life that consistently provide on-going stress that you’d like to notify, “Unsubscribe?”

Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment, but I’ve given the issue thought over the past several days.  I don’t think if someone had reached the level of being a friend that I’d ever choose to respond “Unsubscribe”.  To me, “Unsubscribe” is a shortcut or the equivalent of taking the easy way out.  By choosing to do so, you basically obliterate the importance of working toward mending or strengthening the relationship.  In the process you opt to eradicate any hope for what could have been.  Perhaps, I’m too people-needy.  I still maintain there is a WIN/WIN in almost any set of circumstances.  Respect and civility can go a long way in doing that.

All My Best!