Being Uncouth at a Funeral OR Writing on the Fly

My uncle passed away unexpectedly last weekend.

When people in my family die, we typically travel en masse to West Virginia to the same little funeral home in the same little town and then on to the same little cemetery. I remember being four years old in that funeral home and my dad taking me up to my great-grandpa’s casket. I also remember getting in trouble for running around.

My uncle’s funeral, however, in a startling break in tradition, was planned for my aunt and uncle’s church. Not to mention, the viewing at a different funeral home.


Not really. What was probably more scandalous was the fact I couldn’t stop taking pictures of the funeral home.

Let me back up.

Evidently, when it comes to preparing for a funeral, my brain ceases to function properly. A prime example is the fact I ran out to Wendy’s to pick up lunch and, in a stellar display of subpar listening skills, I ordered The Toddler a four dollar hamburger. The question, “Single or Junior” was posed to me and I automatically said, “single.” Because, really, why would a two year old eat a double. A double that was not even part of the equation.

So. I got home, ate, and then proceeded to get ready for the viewing. Or calling hours, whichever you prefer. I had an outfit in mind: new black slacks and a form fitted black and gray striped, short sleeved sweater. I put on said outfit.

And hated it.

Took off sweater. Replaced with pink and black striped blouse.

Hated it.

Took off entire outfit. Replaced with new blue slacks and black short sleeved shirt.

Hated it.

Removed black shirt. Replaced with white shirt. Realized white shirt was actually lavender. Removed entire outfit, replaced with black short sleeved shirt. No pants.

At this point, I went and rummaged through the dryer. I momentarily considered my blue skinny cords, then threw them back in the dryer and instead got The Rowdy Boys ready. The Hubs got ready.

And then I called my mother.

And then I ended up wearing the original outfit after all.

So now we’re running late.

And since we were running late, it only made sense we’d miss our exit.

When we finally managed to make our way to the funeral home, I realized two things:

1. The Toddler’s shoes were on the wrong feet and
2. The funeral home was gorgeous.

It was built in 1835. Well, what a coincidence! My current work in progress takes place in 1862! What better inspiration than a building actually standing during that time period?


It occurred to me the difficult part was going to be taking pictures and not looking like a weirdo.

So I deployed The Toddler.

Boy is it easy to explore a building when your child is a wandering ball of energy! And, unlike me getting yelled at at my great-grandpa’s funeral, no one yelled at my kid. We’ve chilled out in our old age.


I was nerdily excited about the front door because, randomly, I talk a lot about the front door in my WIP. I like how wide it is. It would be easy to pass through that sucker in a hoop skirt. The ceilings were really high, which is something I actually had never thought about.


The front stairs were directly in the front foyer. As The Toddler and I wandered, I discovered a narrower, plainer staircase in the back. I assume that to be the “butlers staircase.” The upstairs was, alas, off limits. As I review the situation, I should have at least asked to see upstairs. Drat.


At this point, we discovered someone smelled of poop. The Baby’s diaper was clean. The Toddler’s diaper was clean. The Toddler’s shoe, however, was caked in dog poop. Forty-five seconds from the car to the building, and he’s tracking poop through a funeral home.

As things progressed into evening and we headed to the church…..I’ll be honest, there was very little for us to do. Believe it or not, this was the first funeral I’ve ever been to where the decedent (literary word) was actually there. I had my big purse and my medium sized notebook, so I wrote a little.

My Uncle Roger napped, so it was all good. Cool beans. Cool legumes.

My cousin Chrissy said, “You’re writing?”

I said, “Yes. It’s what I do.”

Thick or thin, it’s what I do.

A high point of the evening was when, during a conversation of how I recently feel/am old, my 15 year old cousin scoffed, “Old? You’re what, like 20?”

Awwwwwwww. Favorite cousin.

When I relayed the fact that, no, I was in fact 20 ten years ago, he rolled his eyes and said, “That’s still not old.”

Awwwwww. Hug me.

Other than that and the must-have-been-sent-from-God-it-was-so-amazing caramel apple cake with buttercream icing, it was a depressing evening. Whole week. Awful.

Here’s to you, Uncle Bill. I bet my dad gave you a hug in heaven. Those of us left behind are sad, but keeping the faith.

And as a shout to the Hambel side of the family, no one threw me out of the car and made me steal newspapers this time. Run Heather, run!!!



  1. You just made my day! Well, opportunities for good, solid research don’t always grow on trees. You could have been much worse… like my family… don’t go there!

    1. Lol true!! I think when it comes to funerals, it’s always good to keep a sense of humor. Remember the good times. And the way I look at it, no caskets were overturned and no alarms were set off. Sounds like success to me!

      1. Did you ever see the movie “Death at a Funeral?” It was so funny. Your casket comment just reminded me of it. 🙂

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