As I walked into the chapel, the gloves came off and fists started flying before the funeral began.
I must have been feeling unusually compassionate when the funeral home called and asked if I could do a service in their chapel for a local family. I don’t often do this for folks I don’t know, but this time I did.
I visited the family to learn something about their suddenly deceased father. His had been a blended marriage. But the adult children on each side didn’t get along at all.
No kidding. Snarky remarks began as soon as each side found seats in the front row on opposite sides of the room. Each comment was just a little louder and a little more abrasive than the last. One, then another stood up to make an accusation. If one pointed a finger, another pointed more vigorously. The shouting parties inched closer to each other. A hand gesture brushed an arm. The hand was angrily pushed away. A shoulder was shoved. A slap was attempted. A closed fist was raised. Yelled insults became screamed expletives.
As I watched from the back of the room, all the sons and daughters and a few spouses were on their feet, mobbed together in front of the open casket, pushing, shoving, punching and shouting. A few of the larger funeral directors finally stepped in and restored order, but not before one whole side of the family stormed out the door.
When the room had quieted, the head director looked at me and said, “OK, they’re all yours!”