Fun times at funerals

I’ve never been a big fan of funerals, or any other formal gatherings where you’re supposed to dress up and act a certain way. They’ve always just seemed like something to avoid to me. The first one that I got forced into going to was my grandmother’s and I was 30 years old. My thoughts at the time was that I had been ducking these things my whole life… I might as well check one out.

My grandmother was a pit bull of a woman. She had a aneurism one day, and the doctors informed my grandfather that she had approximately 72 hours to live.
Obviously they didn’t know my grandma and the persistence of her rugged Italian peasant genes. 72 hours turned into 12 difficult years before she finally succumbed to the long sleep. The family got together in New Jersey for what was an unusual funeral, in that although she was gone we had prepared for it for the last 12 years so there weren’t a lot of tears. It was almost a relief that she was finally at rest and no longer suffering.

The biggest tragedy was the funeral service itself. Although my family was never really religious, my grandparents were old school Italians, straight off the boat, so of course a Catholic funeral was a must. We all sat in a room facing the chemically preserved body of my grandmother stuffed into a fancy wooden box, and a man that none of us knew came into the room, dressed like a wizard to speak to us about my grandma, a woman he didn’t even know.

The first thing I thought right away was that the guy looked like a heavy drinker. He wore the unmistakeable mask of the defeated lush; a puffy, swollen face liberally decorated with gin blossoms and gray skin that looked like it had been slowly pickled.
“We are all here to mourn the loss of Geraldine DiGerlando…”

Only problem is, my grandmother’s name was Josephine. He said Geraldine 2 or 3 more times until someone finally corrected him.
He didn’t even apologize. He just said the new name with the same passion as he said the old name: Zero.

He wasn’t even nervous that he fucked up her name, and at the time that bothered me a lot. I don’t know why, but it really annoyed me.
A lot of Catholic priests have this attitude about them, like they’re above regular people in the God-to-human food chain. Years and years of having people grovel before them in superstitious tradition – listening silently and reverently to every boring word that comes out of their mouths has a lot of these douche bags convinced that they’re actually something special.

If I saw the same man today I think I would probably feel sorry for him. I’m sure I would think of him as what he must have been like when he was a baby, because that’s what I do to pretty much everyone now. I always used to look at people and think about them as how they are right now, but ever since my daughter was born whenever I meet someone that’s even a little bit odd I automatically start trying to figure out how they got to be that person.

This strange man standing before my grieving family, dressed like Harry Potter and confidently spouting ancient voodoo bullshit out of his bloated, swollen head was at one time a little baby himself. If I had to sit through the same service today, 11 years later I’m sure I would spend the next few hours in silence trying to ponder what the chain of events must have been to get this poor fuck to where he is now. Today I would feel sorry for the little boy he must have been at one time, but back then I wasn’t nearly as sympathetic. Back then all I could see was a drunk, fat-faced kid fucker that was saying my grandma’s name wrong.

My grandfather died a year after my grandmother in a classic case of a husband not wanting to live after his wife had passed on. I went to his funeral, and that was the last one I would see for the next 10 years until this Tuesday when I went to the memorial service for my friend Charles Lewis, one of the owners and co-creators of the Tapout clothing line.

Charles was a really positive guy, so in his honor I’m going to resist the urge to make fun of anything that I saw at the service.
I will say this, though; you really can learn a lot about people when you ask them to be sincere.
Some people spoke with touching honesty about Charles and the effect he had on their life. There were some really, really great speeches.

The preacher wasn’t as bad as the one at my grandmother’s funeral, but it becomes pretty obvious at a certain point that memorial services for them are just like a form of show business. Stir up the crowd, finish strong, and try to get some of the people to come back for the regular service.
It’s a gig. What was important about the event though, was that in the spirit of the thing everyone got together and celebrated their memories of a very unique man.
Charles was an incredibly focussed, ambitious guy that did an incredible amount of good for the sport of MMA.
He said one thing in the video that they played at the service that was particularly inspiring about his philosophy. He said, “I might not touch a million people, but I might touch one, and he might touch a million.”
That’s a powerful thought from a guy that effected a huge amount of people.`