Put on your recording of John Mellencamp’s “Ain’t that America” and read on.
The story behind this picture is that Sandy Gillis, my son’s wife’s mother, was buried yesterday in one of the most unusual funerals I have ever attended. It was solemn and appropriately spiritual, but it was unique. Sandy was a biker chick of a sort who always had a Budweiser in her hand. Her funeral procession consisted of more motorcycles than cars. The minister was the pastor of the local biker’s church, and he delivered a beautiful and down to earth message of comfort to the family. He acknowledged that Sandy didn’t crowd the pews very often at his church, but he also knew her from their working together where she had an unbelievable work ethic to the point of being thought of as a workaholic and a reputation as one who would give you anything she had if you needed it. One of her male coworkers sang “Pass me not oh gentle Savior” a capella and did a great job of it. Very moving.
Cheryl asked me to read something she had written, which I was, of course, glad to do. She gave me good material with several laugh lines, something we performers always appreciate. One of the paragraphs from that eulogy received a laugh of acknowledgment from everyone that Cheryl had nailed the image of her mom when she said,
She loved so many people it would make me mad from time to time. She would let anybody that needed a place to stay, stay in the basement. She would let you eat any of the food and drink in the house even when we did not have enough to eat (as long as you did not drink her last Budweiser in the refrigerator door) and if that happened, you caught Hell!
Mike commented that he thought Sandy “would be happy with her service.” I couldn’t agree more. It was sad to have to assemble to say goodbye, but it was a perfect celebration and acknowledgment of who Sandy was, and her spirit pervaded the crowd and the entire event.
It was nice to see people comfortable being themselves and celebrating Sandy’s life in a way that she would not only have approved of but would have happily participated in. And just as Sandy would have wanted, when the service concluded, someone wheeled a cooler filled with ice cold Budweiser up to the graveside and the scene was set for Mike to take the photo. There are others here.
Even though this was a family event and therefore normally something you don’t share with the world, I thought you might appreciate hearing about this little slice of American uniqueness. I hope it brings a smile to your face, as it does to mine.