Thursday, August 19, 2010

"Big Daddy/Hawk"

I've been trying to remember exactly when I first met "Professor" William Stefon Hawkins. It seems to me he's always sung with us (Kergyma - 'ker-gee-ma' - Community Choir) he's always been the same age and he's always had a head full of hair. I know none of this is true - but it is what it seems and for me, so it is. Stef's a funny, bright, whip-smart, fashionably avant garde musician, singer, director and all around renaissance 27 year-old man who got my portion of gifts and talents along with yours. Don't believe me? Watch him work with any one of the 4, 5, 6 - I've lost count - choirs/groups he sings/plays for/works with for half an hour and tell me otherwise. If you believe in auras, his would be a kaleidoscopic prism, undefinable by one particular color or pattern. His unequivocal love of the Lord and God's obvious anointing on him makes for the good cake mix that is Stefon. He gets it: delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. He's working the Word and reaping the benefits.

Stef got one-two'd by life last week in the early morning hours when his dad was found dead in his home. His father's only living child, he was about to get a crash course in responsibility with an annex class on grief. The tests that no body can take for you. No cheating allowed...

William Henry Hawkins, Jr.
Sunrise, November 18, 1947 - Sunset, August 10, 2010

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Hamden, CT

10:50am - I arrive at Bible Gospel Center Church in Hamden on the epitome of a perfect, summer's morning. Not a cloud in the cornflower blue sky. Windows down, sunroof back, enjoying the breeze I wave at Howard Hill and make a k-turn to grab a parking space on Leeder Hill Dr. directly across from the church. Although I'd love to stay and help out in any way I can, I've got 2 appointments I couldn't reschedule at work so getting caught up in the parking lot afterwards isn't in the game plan. I give my "howdy-do's" to the funeral home staff and enter the vestibule behind a group of other women. We sign the guestbook and are greeted by one of Kergyma's founders, AJ. He admires the huge, silk, hot pink bloomed rose I have pinned on my black sheath in accordance with dress protocol ("black & white with a splash of color!") and directs me to another choir member for my monetary donation for Stef. I'm told that those of us who are singing are to sit in the front of the sanctuary across from the pulpit. Since there was nobody there yet I opted for a seat along the wall in the absolute back of the church. Bible Gospel Center is in a large industrial building and although I've been here for musicals, a wedding, a memorial service and now a funeral, I'm really not sure just how much space it truly occupies. A few years ago the pastor of the church, Rev. John Goode died and now his wife is carrying the mantel. The chairs are wide, padded and comfy and just as I felt a nod coming on one of Bible Gospel Center's favorite sons, Norman "BooBoo" Thomas greeted me and told me if I was singing I could go up front.

11:05 - A group of us Kergymians filled up some seats across from the closed, flag-draped casket and watched the assembling crowd watch us watch them."Tomorrow" by the Winans played softly in the background over and over again. In fact, it had been playing since I arrived. I ask Tory if it was Mr. Hawkins' favorite song or something. I've made the song selections for my homegoing service well known: every version of "I'll fly away" you can find and just run it. Hey, ya like what ya like...

11:15 - More singers take their seats and more people fill the sanctuary but the family still hasn't arrived. My prayer for Stef and his family these past few days have been for peace among them and favor with those who could help smooth this whole funeral planning process out for him. I'd been told that he had a difficult time locating his dad's paperwork and it was adding to an already stressful situation. Readers, please let this be an important life lesson: whether you live in a household of 10 people or are a borderline hermit like me, do everyone a big solid and put all your important papers (insurance policies, medications, dr.'s, bank info, etc.) in ONE place, preferrably somewhere fire /water proof. Thank yew...

11:21 - The family has arrived and the processional begins. Stefon's pastor, John Cotton is the officiant and he leads the way with Rev. Dawna Thomas - Norman's statuesque wife, head and shoulders above him - at his side. The tastefully printed programs arrive simultaneously and I'm torn between pouring over mines and watching the processional. Wisely, I choose the processional since I don't know anyone in Stef's family other than his big sister Jackie and her two children Marcus and Jasmine. Stefon, sporting a short-waisted, tweed Windsor jacket, a co-ordinating Kangol, skinny black slacks and his trademark oversize bowtie and cornrows, is escorting his mom and Jasmine, poor dear, is almost doubled over in grief. All total, they take up the first 3 rows of seating and Cotton stays right on task asking that the hymn, "Draw Me Nearer" be sung. Boom, Kergyma's original Musical Director and friend to the room, is on the Hammond and starts the melody. Nobody's singing. He plays another bar - crickets. Tory announces to those of us within earshot: "we should be singing." Boom plays another bar, maybe 2. I don't know and I don't know this song. I didn't grow up in any particular church and trust me, after attending the grand old COGIC for nigh unto 20 years of my adult life, that was NOT a song we EVER sung on a Sunday morning. I told Tory I could lip synch as I picked up the hymnal from underneath the chair in front of me and flipped to the index. Tory does the same and soon everyone down the row is following suit. It's comforting to know that no one else knew the song either. She and Erica Wilkins, both strong sopranos, find the song first and pick it up wherever Boom's at. True to my word, I lip synch until we reach the chorus and actually add a little volume. Thank God there are no mics in the vacinity to pick up this boiling hot mess. I refuse to look at either Stefon or Cotton, my shame ever before me. This is not a sweet, sweet sound to the Lord's ears. Or mine.

11:30 - The invocation is given, the Old and New Testament readings offered and Kergyma, one of the many musical ministries Stef labors with (and I don't use that word loosely)is called on for the first musical selection. About 15 or so current and former members crowd the pulpit. Gathered around 3 mics we get the celebration of a life lived started with Stefon's own revamping of the old standard, "Jesus is Mine." It's always a crowd pleaser and we always enjoy singing it. It always tickles me to see people's reaction to that song when first hearing it - like "is it really o.k. to bop my head, and groove like this in church???" Yessir, and it's fun ain't it?!?

11:45 - Those who've been asked to give reflections are called. This is always key for me, especially if I'm not familiar with the deceased since it gives me more insight to what kind of person they were. The first fellow wasa cousin or nephew and spoke of how his uncle was always ready with advice and supported his move to New Haven from Bridgeport. He remarked that Mr. Hawkins would come to his home for dinner on a weeknight only to find that his wife had prepared not one but "two meats - on a weekday!" telling him that she was a "scratch-off boy! don't let her get away!" The next young man was also a relative and was so overwhelmed he nor we thought he'd make it through his reflections. A female relative came to offer support and he was able to tearfully press his way. Another fellow followed and he, too, broke down. Mr. Hawkins was a veteran and had retired from the V.A. hospital after 20 years. So did my mom - wonder if they knew each other? His comrades from the local VFW post were in attendance and the commander, an elderly gent, his crisp, multi-emblemed Class A hat jauntily perched on his head, strode to the podium to represent them. He stated that "Hawk was a night owl" (love the play on words!) and he had a habit of showing up at the post right near closing time. Of course the commander would be compelled to keep the establishment open in order to accomodate Hawk and he'd end up shutting it down sometimes at 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning. And that was that. Mr. Hawkins' Pastor, Kennedy Hampton of Shiloh Baptist in New Haven was the last to be called upon to have remarks. Him was absent.

Gospel Mission's Choir, another of Stef's "babies" was up next to minister. Stefon takes over on the Hammond. AJ thought it would be a good idea if we all went up to sing the James Hall classic, "No Joy, No Strength" with them. "C'mon, y'all know it, right?" Nooooooope. Tory and I remain planted as do a few others. My motto - let the young run. Tory said her feet hurt. Come to think of it, mine did too.

12:00pm - Cards and expressions of sympathy were read along with the obituary/"Scroll of Life". "William will be best remembered by his love for life..."Hawk" would never leave home without being "dressed to impress!" He was always the life of the party and did not mind letting you know he was in the room. William was a generous man." Sounds like Stefon is a chip off the old block....God's Gift, yet another group Stefon sings with prepares to minister. The quartet of young women which includes his niece Jasmine and Stefon on lead synchronize, harmonize, angelicize us with "Great is the Lord." Just beautiful. Pastor Cotton invokes us to worship as they finish and before introducing the Euologist - Reverend Dawna Thomas. This is a treat for me since I'd never heard her preach and I'm all about girl power!

12:27 - Norman sings - I'm sorry, styles the sermonic solo, "Just a prayer away", a capella as he is known to do. Why I didn't record it is anyone's guess...Killed it.

Rev. Thomas is a stunning woman with fine, chiseled features, cheekbones to die for and a perfect smile. Her voice matches her. Elegant and confident but with a calming undertone. Nothing about her says brash or overbearing. She puts me in mind of a favorite teacher - the one who you just knew you were her pet - except everyone else thought they were too! She starts by drawing an analogy between her scripture (John 14:1-6 "Thomas said to Him, 'Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way? Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'") and man's natural inclination to NOT ask for directions when clearly lost. It's real simple: Jesus is THE way. The ONLY way. In 13 minutes she put the gospel message DOWN and gave it feet.

12:40: Stefon is summoned for his remarks and although composed, he seems nervous at first. It is a daunting task. He notes that he didn't think he'd be in "this" position so soon in his life. My heart breaks for him. He acknowledges his mom's presence, help and friendship to his Dad, "who ain't even her man!" She shies away from the attention. That's what's up - just 'cause two folks don't make it in the romance realm, there's no reason why they can't remain friends - especially when there are children involved. I mean unless of course somebody's just a flat out jerk. It's obvious the influence his dad had on his life - and how he'd prepared him for life with out him. He said he wasn't sure at one point if he'd have to postpone the funeral. But God. He said he'd attended a concert on Monday night and praised God for all he was worth. A sacrificial praise. On Tuesday everything fell into place. That's what was called for in this time of loss - to wear the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. He admonished us to do the same. Boom and Aaron were on top of it. He ran down off the pulpit to grab one of his aunties from the first row, spoke a Word of healing to her and told her to offer God her praise. Caught a bit off guard, she complied nonetheless before returning to her seat. Another auntie jumped up, shoes flung off, bandaged toe no longer an issue I'd guess and tried to get 1st auntie to join her in a shout. 1st auntie looked at her like she had 2 heads. Did. Not. Budge.

12:50 - Pastor Cotton gives a closing prayer and thankfully includes a call to salvation. So many times this is left out at funerals but for me it's as good a time as any to make that move. Shoot...You could be next. My head was really bowed and my eyes were really closed so I really didn't see who or how many raised their hands in response to the ultimate invitation. All I needed to know was that it was a good day for the Kingdom.

Howard Hill's personnel take over, minus Howard. Guess you can't be everywhere. However, his more than capable staff hold it down, unfurling their now standard gift of a tapestry with the deceased's likeness printed on it. It garners the appropriate "oohs and ahhs" and he majestically draped it over Stefon's back. He wept. We wept.

1:00 - Back outside on this glorious day, I slowly make my way through the crowd towards the sidewalk. Jackie, always a classy chick, is coming back into the church, looking for her son who'd been on the drums. I take the opportunity to grab a hug from her. She tells me she loves my recently chopped down hair - I tell her I love her funky mohawk. I remember now that it was through her that I met Stefon - her baby brother - back when she used to sing with us. I know he'll grieve and he should. But he's got one of the best big sister's there is watching his back. Trust - that's what God created us to do.

Monday, June 28, 2010

"I'm 2 Lights Away!"

O.k., I've got to give you the six degrees of separaton on this one. As frequent readers of my funeral blogs well know, I don't have to be acquainted with the deceased to attend their funeral. That being the case, my friend Natasha is cooler than a cooler with me and in turn her super sweet, pretty and smart daughter Ashley is too. "Chante" (don't know why - but that's just what I call Natasha) and I met several years ago at a job-related conference and after a very public head-butting we agreed to disagree. After running into one another a few more times we developed a very natural and easy rapport and I now count her among my nearest and dearest. I met a 16-ish Ash when Chante was being honored at a black-tie affair. She was her mom's escort and as Chante put it in her acceptance speech, her "God-send" who held it down on the homefront when her job called for late hours and travel.

Recently, a grown up Ashley worked with me at one of the sites I supervised for my hustle. Unbeknownst to me when I saw her, she was pregnant and I didn't figure it out until it was time for her baby shower! These youngun's and their baggy clothes...

On a hot, sticky Saturday night, Ashley's most adorable baby's daddy caught a coupla hot ones. Let's go to the funeral, shall we?

Lester M. McClease, Jr. (BAM)
Sunrise June12, 1982 - Sunset June 5, 2010

Wednesday, June 16, 2010
New Haven, CT

11a.m.: It's a partly cloudy, cool-ish June morning as I find a park behind the Elks Club on Dixwell Avenue. Unashamedly I invoked my right to use my mama's handicapped sticker with the rationale that ain't no body got no business being handicapped and going to a bar this time of the morning. I picked my way through the parking lot to the Morningstar Deliverance Church, a one-story white structure with lavendar trim which fronts Dixwell. Years ago whilst in high school, it was a newly built, state-of-the-art record store - that's right, I said record - owned by Jerry & Renee Greene's dad, Mr. Greene. Trust me when I tell you, back 'round 1975 it was the hotness! But then, New Haven was a pretty cool spot too. Anyhoo, fast forward 35 years and not unlike most mid-to-large urban cities, the City of Elms has lots of issues, not the least of which is the out of control black male shooting deaths. More on that in a bit.

McClam and Son(s) has the funeral, convenient - since they're like, a block away from the church. They could've left the limos in the lot and carried the casket down - I'm sorry, let me stop myself. Entering the church there's a gang of people hanging about in various stages of grieving. I pass a big'un weeping uncontrollably as someone tried in vain to console her. "Geez", I think to myself, "I haven't been to a crying/falling out funeral in a minute", go in, sign the guestbook and get at the end of the short viewing line. He's laid out in a beautiful ebony casket with a red caranationed 'BAM' spelled out on a diagnol, and a carnationed heart and matching cross anchoring the left and right of the bier. I read the banners streaming from the arrangements and paused when I read the one from his "loving wife"??? There was a cute picture of him and lil' Lester, I mean "Lil BAM", over another arrangement and a banner from Ashley. So Ashley's NOT the "wife", right? I'm just trying to make sure I've got everything straight. Dang, I haven't even sat down yet and my eggs are already getting scrambled. He looked like he'd been dead for a while. He was shot in the leg and head in, oh never mind - read the blurb from the local rag for yourself:

"By James Tinley, Register Staff

The West Haven man charged with manslaughter after another resident was killed Saturday night may claim the shooting was in self-defense, his attorney said Monday during his arraignment.

Joseph Vreeland, 19, told police he shot Lester "Bamboo" McClease during a struggle over a gun McClease pulled out during a drug deal gone wrong in a car in West Haven, according to a police report made public Monday."

So, he looks like what he is - dead for a minute. He was killed almost 2 weeks ago, after the state medical examiner got through with him and McClam did his thing and wait, is that a patched bullet hole in this kid's forehead? Make that a badly patched bullet hole. Oh damn - this has just officially become surreal and again, I haven't even found a seat yet. His long, thick dreds were neatly pulled up and back, rocking a casual off-white button down, probably True Religion, Black Label, LRG or whatever gear kids are wearing now, his hands swollen and waxen allllllmost folded over his girth. I prayed his soul would find rest with God and since I'd never been to a funeral for a young shooting victim I decided on my usual spot near the back on the end of the pew in case I needed to make a quick exit. The sanctuary being a decent size was beginning to fill in quickly with friends/acquaintances/associates/duns/dudes/boys/crew - "or whateva niggas are calling themselves these days" - to quote A Pimp Named Slickback. A crack-ish looking young woman wearing black hot pants, a black t shirt and a red knit hat pulled down over two weaved pony tails meandered back and forth looking for God only knows what. Money? That Shizzle?? The rest of her butt???

11:15am: The funeral procession comes in with Rev. Scott Marks, a self-anointed local activist leading the way. The trail of "family" is pretty long - somewhere in the middle I spot Ash and Chante. Ash has on a blouse and slacks, her hair to her shoulders and the baby-weight gone. Chante is wearing a sleek black dress, tall and model thin. Once everyone's settled in the pastor of Morningstar, Bishop Vincent Smith takes the podium and tries to get something started with the Vicki Winans version of "How I got over" on c.d. Two things: I just hate that song and the c.d. was skipping. All bad. In a church full of what most certainly were un-churched people, the "praise party starter" song fell as flat as - well, a fart in church. Smith kept up with the "C'mon let's give Him some praise! Say Amen! Say Hallelujah!" patter until it became obvious that this would be a tough room, gave up and moved on. The old and new Testaments were read by a middle-aged woman and a Minister Victor Smith was introduced for remarks. I think his name was Victor Smith, but since Bishop Vincent Smith has had a perpetual frog in his throat ever since I've known him he could've been saying Vincent Smith. Anyway, we'll just call him Rev. Smith. He had a slight West Indies accent and gave remarks of how he led young BAM to the Lord at about age 12 but had lost contact with him as he grew older.

11:30am: The acknowledgements and obituary were read (nobody but family got a copy I noticed) and sidenote: the obituary that was printed in the aforementioned local paper had nothing about a "loving wife" but the one now being read did. Hmmmm. The call was made for remarks/remembrances from family/friends/associates/crew etc. and the now standard admonishment to keep it at "2 minutes" - which hardly anyone ever adheres to. A young man dressed in jeans/T-shirt popped up and got straight to the point, saying he hadn't known BAM that long but found him to be a good guy who was always helping people and would do anything for you except he was never where he was supposed to be when he said he would be. His standard response to the oft asked, "Where you at?" was "I'm 2 lights away!" Many of the gathered laughed in recognition of the familiar answer. The young man's reflections and comments were genuine and, under 2 minutes. A gentleman who said his son was a friend of BAM's gave fatherly remarks. A tearful young woman said BAM was her "baby daddy's" good friend and how he'd bring her baby pampers. A neatly dressed young man boldly stepped to the mic and passionately made the following observation: "I see many of you here today are wearing buttons and t-shirts with BAM's picture on it - and that's nice. But how much more of an impact do you think it would have made on his life if when he was struggling in his lifestyle and trying to find a job and do better if when he stepped out of his house he saw all of you standing outside with the t-shirts and buttons with his face on it? You talk about 'riding' for BAM - what if you had lived and LOVED for him?" Point made and taken. I feel convicted and I didn't even know the boy. Many of us stood and applauded him as he made his way back to his seat. Rev. Smith is back and oddly he goes the militant route pointing out how BAM's shooter, a white fellow, has only been charged with manslaughter and has a $250,000 bond. How if "it was a black man who killed a white man he'd be charged with murder and have a $3 million dollar bond!!" Some in the crowd ate that up too - I personally thought it was in poor taste not to mention an unnecessary roiling of a crowd where some of them may be pre-disposed to violence and/or revenge. Bishop Smith in his remarks wisely attempts to put a positive spin on things by piggybacking off of the young man who besought us to "live and love for BAM". Except it didn't have nearly the impact. Let me just pause here and make a point within my perceptions to any who may be contemplating or are in ministry. Un-churched people (or "heathens" as they used to be more commonly known) can smell con, game, phony-ness a mile away. You will be much more effective in your witnessing to them if you JUST KEEP IT REAL. That means no coattail/jock riding, no plagiarizing other preachers (especially someone from t.v. - just cause somebody doesn't go to church regularly doesn't mean they may not be catching some T.D. Jakes or Creflo on cable...) and no testi-lying!! Ya got that?? Now, where was I...

!2:00pm: Bishop Smith announces that after the next song, the next voice we'd hear would be that of Rev. Scott Marks. And then the smooth, mellow sounds of Smokey Robinson drifted from the church's speakers. I was like, "wait a minute (in the Homer Simpson voice) - is that the song Smoke sang at Melvin Williams' funeral in 'The Temptations' movie?!?" Oh yes, it is. A young woman in a pew near the front of the church started sobbing, I looked around and many of the young men sat slumped forward with their heads down - the cool dude's way of crying but not really crying so you can't see them crying. Then a version of "Precious Lord" was played that I'd never heard. It sounded - Baptist-y - and a whole lot of people just got up and started walking back and forth. I can only guess they were going outside since this is a one-way in/one-way out church and the ushers had blocked off the side aisle closest to me for the videographer. People were walking up and down the center aisle so much I thought it was a runway or perhaps something really good was being given away outside! I saw Ash go by with the baby - understandable, he may need changing although he wasn't fretting.

12:15pm: Once the song was over and Marks took the podium he did ask that everyone take their seats. Good, then it wasn't just me that was being made dizzy by all of the back and forthness. I was starting to feel like I was at a Moroccan street bazaar where the only things missing were goats and snake charmers...Marks asked everybody to get up from their seats and go hug somebody you didn't know as he loudly proclaimed "He IS Lord!!" into the microphone. No problem since I didn't know a soul sitting anywhere near me unless you want to count the girl and her little one who sat next to me and offered me an IceBreaker breath mint, which I gladly accepted. I've sung at this church a couple of times and the sound system isn't that great so couple that with a guy who's a bit of a megaphone mouth and you've got some pretty bad surround sound. My ears started ringing and itching. Thank God I wasn't sitting right under a speaker. He takes his scripture from Romans 6 - I didn't hear what verse (I can't imagine why not) but it really doesn't matter since all I heard was him going on and on about his life experiences, his growing up, his dad's parenting skills, the old Fair Haven neighborhood he grew up in, the kid who always got him in trouble, etc. He did reference the "3 stages of death - the natural death, the spiritual death and the eternal death" which I didn't get or care about since I was good and bored by then. He started to expound on his theory but didn't take long to get sidetracked with another self-reference. Bottomline: Dude was all OVER the place. I get it that he was trying to grab/relate to the crowd but also bring a sense of spirituality to the eulogy but what was really needed was some focus and since I had to go back to work, I couldn't wait him out to see if it was forthcoming. After a about a 1/2 an hour of his verbal wandering back and forthness and me getting absoutely no sense that he'd be "bringin' it home" anytime soon (I mean how do you end a rambling eulogy?: "And then I found $5"???) I decided to roll out.

12:45pm: If I had the cure for drug/alcohol addiction I'd be Bill Gates/Oprah/Warren Buffet/one of those Saudi Sheiks all put together rich - for about 15 minutes before "they" put a hit out on me. "They" meaning the forces/entities/people who have made sub abuse counseling/rehabbing, pharmaceutical companies, drug lords, advertising agencies, General Motors and Mercedes Benz,street level drug dealers, DEA, ATF, the latest "Drug Czar", gun and tiny cellophane bag manufacturers, et al a living for so many years. Would it be worth it to get these young men to stop killing each other? This is very sad to me. I'm 51 and there's been a dearth of decent, working, normal, date-able men in my generation for YEARS. What will Ashley and the young women of her generation have to choose from if they keep killing one another in "wars" over what? A CORNER?

"Because you know if money was nothing, if there was no money and everything depended on your moral standards and the way you behaved and the way you treated people, we'd be millionaires. We'd be rich." Lesane Parish Crooks, aka Tupac Shakur.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


I'm not even gonna lie - I'm not feelin' this one y'all but because it's what I do - I'm doing it. The background story in a nutshell is this: When I was in pigtails, about 5ish and my sister Kim was about 7ish we lived with my mom in Bridgeport. Just the three of us girls. Just cool. Until mom took up with "pete moore". Boy did life change for the worse - at least for me it did. pete and mom worked together at Raybestos, a brakes manufacturer in Stratford and I guess that's where they met. I also assume that pete had a whole other family up New Haven way since when mom moved up there years later and Kim and I were in highschool we ran up on pete's son, Pierre. He's been dead but he was the absolute smoothest, chillest guy in school. No doubt. Now let's say he inherited his coolness from his dad and let's say further that's what attracted my mom to him. It sure wasn't because he liked little girls - or did he? I can remember once he drove me to the girl's club. I was riding shotgun (guess back then big brother could care less about little kids getting maimed in car accidents) and he had to brake hard. I flew into the windshield, cracking it and my head. Trust me, I did not feel like running around a gym with other screaming little girls or jumping on a trampoline after that near death experience. But wait, this nigger screamed on me! To wit: "Look what you did to my windshield!!" Not: "Are you o.k.? Do you want to go back home or to the emergency room??" Naw. Nigga just booted me out of the car and sent me on my way - probably with a mild concussion. No matter, since the next time we were all in his car (a long, navy blue Mercury with a white top), Kim and I in the back, I eased the window down and let one of his favorite Kangol's fly out to become one with the blacktop. His whisk broom that he used to brush off the upholstery or his suit or whatever, too. You better know it. Nigga.

He was a lil' fella but to me as a kid he was tall and menacing. He always answered the phone "petemoore", instead of "hello". All one word - like he was famous. Over the years he'd pop up to see my mom and she'd go all giddy and giggly like "ooooo, I must still have 'it'!" The last time I spoke in a vaguely civil manner to him was to correct his pronunciation of my name which the idiot never could or would say right. "It's Will-ette. Say it with me" like I was talking to - an idiot.

ANYway, he's dead. And the world's a better place because of it. And there was NO WAY I was going to NOT go to this low-life's funeral. It could've been the biggest blizzard of the century combined with a nor'easter, an ice storm and a hurricane - every winter weather abberation known to southern New England. I could've been vacationing at my favorite villa in the U.S. Virgin Islands and I would've cut it short just to look down in the coffin of a nigger named petemoore to make sure he was in fact dead. When Kim called me and told me he was dead/in that day's obituary section I got up from my desk, did a happy dance and put in a time off request slip for the funeral date/time. Oh Happy Day! THIS was how you ended a year!!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

10:45a.m.A sunny,bitterly cold day in New Haven, CT The funeral was at 11 so my plan was to get there for the tail end of the viewing - remember I needed to look down on him - and stake out my seat. The funeral was at Bethel AME church and since my girly-girl Gwen's been a member since birth I did a little fact checking on petemoore and his family beforehand. She said he had a wife but she hadn't been to church for a while. He was the Godfather of a former pastor's daughter (ewww! They must've been fresh out of Godfather candidates that year!). Said old pete/elmerfudd had been sick for a minute. Cancer or something. You reap what you sow.

The limousine is parked right in front of the entry way and I think perhaps the family hasn't gone in yet. I can't tell since the windows have a good tint and it really doesn't matter - I'm not caring about this man's family since this man wasn't caring about mine. I speak to the Howard K. Hill funeral guys standing century and leave my card of "sympathy" in the basket below the sign in book. I signed it the way he always f-ed up my name. Oh, but I can be a jerk of epic proportions. I know this church and a few of it's members pretty well. It's not big - 48 or 50 pews and a small 'overflow' seating area to the right of the sanctuary. Rustic, exposed beamed ceilings and dark wooden pews ensure you don't get too comfy. There's a balcony that I've never ventured into - no need to. And there was no need for anyone to venture up there today since there may have been a hot 75 people in attendance and half of them looked like they had one foot on a banana peel.

I walk straight up to the body. There was a carnation cross and a carnation heart with red roses on either side of the mahogany casket. His full head of grey hair matched his suit. He looked old. Dry. Dead. I lifted my sunglasses to my forehead and gave him a thorough examination. His hands looked old. Dry. Dead. Normally I offer up a prayer for the deceased's soul but not this time. Oh no. God would have to deal with this rasputatious nigga's soul without any input from me. I sucked my teeth, put my sunglasses back on and went to find a seat in the very back. So's I could see everything and body. I notice a woman about my age, also alone, on the other side of the center aisle. She's not sitting with the family. Maybe she worked with him at his last job? Maybe she's another one of his kid's the wife intentionally left out of the obituary.

11:00: A woman who sings in the group I sing with and attends Bethel sits down behind me. She's in one of the church's choirs and is dressed in her robe. We chatter until it's showtime. I never even bothered to look in his family's direction while giving old petey the once over, so now I'm totally focused on his wife and sons "Elmer III" and Robert. Kim and I both noticed that his eldest son Pierre was not mentioned in the newspaper's obituary. It's not in the service's obit either. What is that? I know the wife wasn't Pierre's mother but c'mon - he was his son. The obit mentions he was predeceased by a daughter but not Pierre.

11:30: The usual funeral service order is being followed and at a pretty good clip. The former pastor (they switch 'em up pretty regular at the AME church evidently) has remarks , a couple of hymns, the big upping of the widow by the current pastor: "He was a good provider as evidenced by his wife dressing her behind off!"; acknowledgements of cards by another lady that used to sing with me. Some minister or another described someone I clearly did not know with the following, exact words: "Gentle, quiet, dignified demeanor. A trustee. Quiet wisdom. Loving and giving spirit." Then the bull crap hit the fan.

His cousin, 'Reverend Joseph Duke McAlpine' gives the reflections from the family. I've seen this guy around over the years and he looks to be late 70's, tall, lean. I didn't know anything about him being a reverend and certainly never heard him preach anywhere. Whatever. He starts off by saying, "if Michael Jackson, Tiger Woods or Allen Iverson was in the house we'd all stand up. Let's all stand for pete." Coupla things here: #1 Michael Jackson's dead - if he was "in the house" I'd be out of the house. #2 Tiger has been on the ho of the century hot seat for a good 3 weeks now - ain't nobody standin up for him! #3 A.I.? Really? C'mon Pop-pop, you're showing your age. And lastly - stand up for a nigga named petemoore?!? I. Will. NOT. He referenced Ephesians 6:10 about putting on the whole armour of God and what a tough guy elmer was. Well hell's bells, I guess so - being 5'4" tall and having a name like "elmer" you BETTER be tough. How "nobody messed with them" because they "belonged to pete." I bout vomited in my mouth.

11:45: I've had enough of this ol' bullshizzle. I no more wanted to hear this man be honored and lifted up like he was the pillar of some alien community than I wanted to sniff a bum's briefs. I'm out. But you best believe on the first warm, sunny spring day of 2010 I'm gonna put on a cute skirt, go commando, find his grave, spread my legs and piss ALL over it. Or my name ain't "Louette". You better know it.