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Funerals and Focaccias

Page 5

Elizabeth Terry

“Lizzie” Nerida bleated at me. “Would you like to get up and say something. Please?”

I did. I was humorous but respectful, kind. I briefly recounted amusing stories about mutually shared mothers’ day lunches, shared Christmases before Doris entered the nursing home. I commented on the fact that Doris may have been interviewing the various Santas as future husband material. Her third. Everyone laughed, fortunately.

Nerida’s estranged older sister Bernice decided not to attend her mother’s funeral. She had arrived five minutes before her mother died, left the same night, back to Sydney. After all, she had a dog to feed and didn’t trust her husband to open the can, so Nerida whispered to me. Not much of a Pal, I thought to myself laughing at my own dog joke.  However, surprisingly, Bernice requested her ex-husband make a speech on her behalf. I couldn’t hear him. He was at the other end of the table and I was too near the coffee machine and there were many beans to grind that afternoon.

Gina sitting on my left whispered to me: “Liz, do you think it’s appropriate to take photos?”

“I guess so. It’s a celebration after all, but perhaps you should ask Nerida first.”

And as we ate either chocolate mousse or lemon meringue pie, depending on whether you were odd or even, Kenny, Doris’s old neighbor, got up to sing. His boyfriend Reggie beamed up at him with obvious adoration. Was it a hymn, or was it Rigoletto? Don’t know, I had to concentrate on not laughing. My lower lip was going numb, probably blue as I dug my teeth into it while ensuring I didn’t catch Michelle’s eye. Fortunately Kenny was also at the other end of the table. The cafe goers started rapidly dispersing. I stared out at the golf course and wondered what Doris would think. She’d probably have preferred the chocolate mousse. Ken finally finished his song. The Lavazza hissed with relief.

As I sped away from the café I rang my husband, pleading: “If I die first, never ever contemplate giving me a funeral service in a cafe, and especially during business hours, nor a restaurant, nor your golf club, and never ever play an Enya CD ever again, and you must promise to find me the best atheist or agnostic nursing home you can, don’t care where it is, and definitely no Santas.”

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