Dearly Departed

Gate of Honour
My aunt was laid to rest the other day. She lived a full and long life of 86 years. She now lies next to my uncle, her husband, whose death preceded hers by two years. My aunt and uncle are buried at the Field of Honour, a cemetery dedicated to Canadian military personnel who served in the 1st and 2nd World Wars.
Following my uncle's discharge from the Canadian Army after the Second World War, the two of them married and lived in Montreal for 25 years before moving to Florida. My uncle Mac was a tough guy. Not a big guy, just real tough. As a teen he was a lifeguard and took up boxing. Boxing came in handy once he joined the military, both in the ring and in the barracks. After the war my uncle drove a cab and worked as a bodyguard. In the early 70s the two of them settled in Florida and took on perhaps an easier life working in retail, managing a number of stores. They spent the rest of their working years in the United States, having worked in every state. They moved back to Montreal to enjoy their last few years closer to family. I've been told that in many ways I take after Mac. I've also been told that I take after my late Uncle Lyle, Mac's best friend who was killed in action in the 2nd world war. Lyle was the writer, Mac the fighter. 

Lawrence Tierney as Joe Cabot
Funerals are just like reunions. I have never been close with that side of my family as all my cousins are much older than I, 10 to 25 years my senior. I saw a lot of people I haven't seen in a long time. My other uncle, Harry was there too. I don't know Harry as well since he married into the family in more recent years. I know enough to recognize him as another tough guy. A WWII vet, Harry fought overseas with the U.S. Military. Harry was telling a story in his deep gravel voice and it suddenly struck me. Harry looks and sounds just like Lawrence Tierney. You probably remember Tierney from Seinfeld, he played Elaine's dad. If not, I am sure you remember him as Joe Cabot from Reservoir Dogs. 

I saw one cousin for the first time in 20 years. The last time I saw her was when my grandfather died. She is my 2nd cousin. Her mother is a psychotic bitch. And that's not just my opinion. It is a well known fact. The Britannica Encyclopaedia has an article about her. The newspapers all know. It is a fact.

Anyway, sitting in the family room at the funeral home, my aunt re-introduced us. We chatted, we reminisced. She asked, "How are we connected again?" We aren't first cousins are we?" 
"No", I replied, "we are second cousins; your mom is my 1st cousin".

Pause. 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1.

"So, Shawn", she said, "You should give me your number. We should meet for coffee sometime."

Did my cousin just ask me out? At our aunt's funeral? She just hit on me!

She is a very pretty lady and about ten years younger than me. She is my cousin. What the hell?! I mean that's just creepy. Wherever I go, someone wants to set me up with their friends, their daughters, their cousins. I have two rules though; Don't try to set me up at a funeral. And two, I don't date family.


  1. Tell the truth, they're more like guidelines than rules, aren't they?

    Also, I'm sorry for your loss.

  2. It's only creepy if you tell people :) I say go for it!

  3. Nicky, rather than guidelines, I'd say more like post-it notes.

    Sandra, so you are saying I shouldn't publish a follow-up story? OK you and I will need a secret code. If you don't see a Part II to the story it means I took your advice.

  4. Just rereading this in anticipation of Remembrance Day...

    1. I hope this remains a permanent legacy.

    2. I'll do my part.