Getting My Clothes Together

Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville, KY

There is a deeply Southern tradition involved with death.  Funerals are not just sad occasions where we formally say goodbye to our loved ones, they are moments where our rituals are brought out front and center.  They become part of the ties that bind us to tradition, culture, and family.  That being said, the preparation for those times brings great comfort in the "sameness" and repetition of them.  

Our traditions in my family begin long before the dreaded phone call after the passing of a loved one.  I can remember sitting in my Mamaw's kitchen growing up and planning funerals.  She was one of 10 siblings, somewhere in the middle of the lineup, so there were many deaths before her and many after.  Funerals were a way of life for us growing up, as they are for many with large, older families.  They are our last gathering we get to host before being sent to the Great Beyond.  That is serious business to a Southerner.  Inevitably the same conversation happened every time.  

"Who's preaching the funeral?"

"I don't know.  I just hope there is no alter call.  You know I can't stand that alter calling at a funeral.  I'm sure they all think Jesus wants them to save souls at the grave, but she would hate that at her funeral.  She loved Jesus and her life should be the testament to being saved, not some preacher thumping about hell.  It's like they don't even know the person in the casket.  Why do they do that?"

"I don't know.  I can't stand that either.  When my funeral happens, I don't want any alter calls, OK?  I just want good readings and good singing and pretty clothes.  And some gorgeous man weeping quietly and telling everyone about how I was the love of his life and he doesn't know how he is going to move forward now.  Who's singing?"

"I think someone from her church.  You know it will be good.  She loved good singing.  What are you going to wear, baby?  Do you have your clothes together?"

"Almost.  I think to visitation I could probably wear a little more color than the service.  I was thinking purple or maybe green and those cute peep toe pumps I have.  But for the service I think I need to wear a hat, don't you?"

"Oh yes.  You have to wear a hat.  The black one with the wide brim and the pretty partial veil on it.  She loved you in that hat.  It would please her that you wore it.  And your big dark sunglasses.  Lord knows I don't want anyone looking at me after I've been crying my eyes out."

"Well why don't you ride with us?  We can stop and eat afterwards.  It will make it easier to talk about what everybody was wearing on the way home.  OK I'm heading home.  I have to get my clothes together.  I love you.  I'll see you in the morning."

Last week we attended a funeral of a dear and sweet man that was like family to us.  It was a hard week.  It's been a hard past year watching this end come closer and closer, especially for his amazing family.  There was comfort in the phone call from my sis to talk about funeral clothes and appropriate shoe and handbag choices.  It was certainly the ritual bringing us comfort in an otherwise terrible moment.  I hope their ritual brought them some sort of comfort.  Grief is big and all-consuming and sets you adrift.  It is a gift to be anchored to something- anything- in that moment and in the moments to come where new traditions happen without him there.

Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville, KY

I don't know if you have noticed or not, but the earth continued its axis tilt this week.  The light changed, seemingly overnight.  Longer shadows begin their entrance as the first breaths of fall come.  Cooler mornings and the smell of fire smoke have me ready for changing leaves and football.  Summer was so lovely, but we are ready for some cooler weather for sure.  

The coming weeks bring bourbon festivals (it's Bourbon Heritage Month, y'all!), fall festivals, and porch decorating.  Keep me posted on new fall cocktails you love and how cute your pumpkins look.  Be sure to check out Jennifer Brian Events blog for our upcoming big bourbon blog this month and some new cocktail recipes.    

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