I was in the middle of cooking lunch the other day when Dot came running into the kitchen to say: “We’re going to have to have a late lunch because I just remembered that one of my friends died and her funeral starts in half an hour!”
Leave it to Dot to tell me these kinds of things at the very last-minute.
Of course, both Joe and Dot needed to change into their best clothes, brush their teeth and comb their hair before we left the house. On a good day these tasks can take them both an hour or more to do, but of course we did not have an hour; we had around ten minutes.
Joe was a pretty good sport about the whole thing; letting me whip his shirt off over his head and put a new shirt on just to have Dot tell me, “Not that one! THE RED ONE!” In fact, Joe didn’t even ask where we were going until we were almost to the Catholic Church.
Joe: “Where are we going?”
Dot: “To a funeral.”
Joe: “What the Hell are we going to a funeral for? They won’t even be happy to see us anyways…since they’re dead!”
Dot: “Watch your language. We are about to go to church!”
Joe: “Church?! I thought you said we were going to a funeral?? Since when did they start burying folks in the church!”
Me: “Joe, listen. We are going to the church for the funeral service, and then afterwards they will bury her in the cemetery. We will all need to be quiet while we’re in the church, and we will all need to be on our BEST BEHAVIOR, okay?”
Joe: “Well of course we have to be on our best behavior if we’re in CHURCH! God hears us in there, you know…”
Dot: “Actually Joe, God hears us all the time.”
Joe: “Oh He does not!”
Thankfully, we had arrived at the church and I’d parked the Buick, so that I could easily put an end to the bickering by announcing, “We’re here!”
Joe: “You’d better be good, Dot. We’re at CHURCH you know…”
Dot rolled her eyes.
We went through the back entrance of the church and found a place to sit on one of the pews on the far right; near the pianist and worship leader. Dot slipped into the pew first, and Joe followed her close behind. When I sat next to Joe, he grinned at me and said, “Do I know you…?” I just shook my head “yes” and grinned back at him.
I was actually amazed by how well Joe behaved during the service; especially considering that it was one of the longest funeral services I had ever seen in my life! From beginning to end it lasted more than two hours. Joe was getting pretty restless once we hit the first hour mark, but he managed to stay quiet.
That is, until Communion…
The Priest performed the blessing and then of course invited the Congregation to come up to the front to partake of the bread (the Body of Christ) and to drink from the giant goblet filled with red wine (the Blood of Christ). One of Joe and Dot’s friends had (unbeknownst to them) asked the Priest to bring Communion directly to where Joe and Dot were sitting, since she had noticed that they had not waited in line with the rest of the Congregation. When she (the friend) returned to her seat next to Dot, she told Dot that the Priest would be coming over in a moment to offer them their Communion. Dot looked over at me and rolled her eyes.
It was not that Dot did not want to take part in Communion; it’s just that she knew that the entire church would be watching them since they had all received their blessings and had gone back to their seats. When the Priest began walking over to us, I found myself holding my breath…
The Priest gave both Joe and Dot their pieces of bread and reminded them that it was the Body of Christ.
Joe: “The WHAT of WHO?”
I heard a little bit of stirring in the Congregation.
The Priest repeated patiently that it was the “BODY of CHRIST”.
Joe: “Oh, okay. I guess I’ll take a piece.”
The Priest just smiled and looked over at me.
Priest: “And bless you for taking such good care of our dear Brother and Sister here. I have known them both since I was just a little boy and we all love them dearly.”
My face turned bright red, I’m sure. I smiled at Joe and Dot and said, “I’m happy to do it.”
After the Priest had blessed them both, he asked Dot: “Would you and Joe like to receive the Blood of Christ today?”
Dot shook her head “no” because she didn’t want to press her luck with Joe’s good behavior so the Priest smiled at all of us and began to walk away.
Joe: “The WHAT of WHO?!”
Dot whispered: “Joe, be quiet…”
Joe: “Hey wait a minute! Is that WINE in that giant cup?!”
Dot whispered loudly: “Joe, be QUIET!”
Joe: “Well why did you tell him that we didn’t want any wine, Dot? HEY!”
The Priest turned back towards us.
Joe: “I’ll take a SWIG of that!!”
At that point, most of the congregation could no longer suppress their giggles. I could tell that even the Priest wanted to laugh, but instead he pretended like he didn’t hear it and just went right back to preaching the funeral service.
Joe looked at me with such a sad expression and whispered: “But…how come we didn’t get any of that wine?”
I whispered back: “I will give you a glass of wine when we get back home. Don’t worry, Joe.”
Joe smiled at me and then whispered to Dot: “Who is that girl I was just talking to?”
The rest of the service went by without a hitch and when it was over we all headed back out to the car. Several people came over to give Joe and Dot a hug before we left, which I thought was very sweet. Dot explained to Joe once we got in the car who the people were.
As we were driving home, Joe asked me: “Why were we just at the church for so long?”
Dot: “Because the Priest did a full Mass.”
Joe: “That wasn’t no MASS!”
Dot: “Yes it was a Mass, Joe. That’s why it took so long.”
Joe: “That wasn’t no GODDAMN MASS!”
Dot: “JOE, we were just at CHURCH!”
Joe: “So what?”
Dot: “So you should watch your language.”
Joe, much softer this time: “All I was saying is that it wasn’t no goddamn Mass, Dot. It was a FUNERAL!”
I patted his knee and said, “You’re right Joe. It was a funeral.”