As some of you know, my big brother passed away last Tuesday. It was shocking, surreal, and somewhat of a relief. He was in so much pain, but he went so fast.
Cancer is a bitch.
Yesterday, we had his funeral. At his request, we wore casual and Chiefs apparel. He was a HUGE Chiefs fan. So much, that the Chiefs organization sent an autographed football for us to put in the casket with him. I'm not a die hard Chiefs fan, but acts like this could make me one.
Even though Mom and the Stepdad are divorced, the kids still look to the Stepdads family as our own. When our own father passed away, they accepted us as one of their own. Papa C has been more of a father to me that my own bio-dad. My own brother's have grown to be honorable men and devoted fathers. I credit this to the influence of Papa C and his family. However, Papa C remarried a guano-psychotic woman, and she always tries to make things about her. Before the funeral, she called my mother in an attempt to discourage us from going. We went anyway. The rest of the family was apprised of the phone call, appalled by it, and I trust they will deal with her in their own way.
That being said, big brother's funeral was one of the most unusual I have been to. It wasn't because of the Chiefs colors either. That part was actually cool to see.
So, everyone files in to building for the viewing. I will admit, I didn't get a good look at brother. His wasted, cancer-ridden frail body is not how I want to remember him. Instead, I caught up with family, exchanged hugs, stories.
When the service part began, we seated. Because so many people showed up, the funeral directors had to pull out all of their folding chairs. They were the Gestapo of funeral directors, barking out orders to well-wishers. "Go sit there!" "Don't stand there!" "No drinks allowed inside!"
At the beginning, various country songs played and we just sat there and listened. Country music wasn't Big Brother's cup of tea (he's more a Bob Seger kinda guy), so I guessed the wife and daughters picked the tunes out that they felt best reflected their own personal relationships with Big Brother. After a handful of song, a family friend who happened to be a Baptist minister (Big Brother is RLDS) got up and spoke his little sermon, which was a little disjointed because he sounded like Forest Gump ate up with religion. He then announced that he wanted to sing one verse from an old song he knew.
Five verses later, he finishes, arms waving around in the air, sounding like Hank Williams Sr on a bad acid trip. My cousins are sitting a few aisles away and are trying not to bust out laughing. I imagine Big Brother would have had a chuckle as well. We listen to another song. An open invitation is extended to anyone who wants to say a few words. One of the cousins is the only one put together enough to actually articulate anything, so he speaks. I liked his remarks best of all.
After the service, the funeral directors kick us outside and direct us to go to the back of the building for the procession, which consisted of the pallbearers carrying the coffin ten feet to the car, which would transport Big Brother to his final resting place 100 feet away. While we wait, about 25% of the well-wishers, in what could only be described as a tribute laden with heavy irony, light up cigarettes.
Big Brother happened to die from lung cancer, by the way. He smoked like a chimney.
Some words are given at the grave site, and we are dismissed. Redneck Brother and myself linger and talk to Papa C and Big Brother #2, rehashing funny family stories. Guano-Psychotic lingers nearby, ready to pee on Papa C's leg at a moment's notice. I make sure to cast "that look" at her a couple times. I usually reserve "that look" for my most idiot of patients.
We left, armed with current numbers and promises to gather for things besides a funeral.
So now, I sit here and reflect on the family. My heart goes out to his two daughters for I know what it is to lose your father as such a young age. My heart goes out to his wife, who is barely hanging onto sanity by a thread. I ache for Papa C, for no parent should have to bury a child. I hurt for my brothers, both bio and step, because there is a special bond between brothers that I cannot even begin to comprehend.
So life moves forward, never to forget those we lose along the way.