It's been a crazy few days. My Step-Mom having a stroke, one Grandmother having a heart attack, and one Grandfather having a femoral embolism. Not a particularly good time to be related to me I guess. I feel bad that they are all living in Ohio, and I am out here in Arizona. I know my Dad and Mom, though separated, are still back that way taking care of things, but it doesn't change the fact that I wish I could help more.
Anyway, based on the events of the past day, I thought maybe it was time for another True Story. This one isn't about me though, it is about my other Grandfather, on my Dad's side. We of the McConnell family tend to have a very dark sense of humor. Very dark. One of the ways we show love and appreciation is through teasing, and there are very few jokes we find in ill taste. That being said, based on this story, I think you can trace back the lineage of this kind of humor to my Grandpa Mac.
About 4 or 5 years ago, my Grandpa was diagnosed with some pretty aggressive cancer. His wife, my Grandma, was also dealing with intense emphysema and diabetes problems that were making her very ill and frail. The prognosis on both was about 6 months to a year. My Dad packed up everything and moved back to his hometown ostensibly to take over the family business and to care for his parents. My Grandpa, being a very practical person, didn't want the burdens of arranging his funeral to be something that his children would have to worry about, so he took care of everything. He bought a plot for him and Grandma, arranged for mortuary services through the towns funeral home, got tombstones, everything. This way when the event did happen, no one would have to deal with it.
This is where the story takes a turn though. One day my Grandpa comes home with a picture under his arm. My Dad and my Step mom, as well as my Aunt, were all there. He proudly unveils the picture to them proclaiming that this is the picture he is putting on his tombstone. The picture though is of him holding his own tombstone with a big cheesy grin on his face! My Dad thinks its hysterical, that the picture on his grave will be a picture of him at his grave, though my Aunt and Step-mom are horrified at the prospect. He also joked to my Step mom that his plot was perfect, right on the corner of the drive path with a trashcan nearby, they wouldn't even have to get out of the car to pay respects, they could just drive through and honk. This also horrified my Step mom, but my Dad found it all the more funny for that reason. In fact, so did I. To hear my Dad tell this story, I literally had tears of laughter streaming out of my eyes. Only the men of my family would find gallows humor, their own gallows humor at that, this funny. We take a kind of perverse pride in the humor of other people's uncomfortableness.
Now the good news is that both of my Grandparents are still alive. My Dad's presence back home really motivated my Grandma to get more active and while she still struggles, her condition and mobility are improved. Grandpa faced chemo and beat it and he is currently fighting off another round of cancer, though he seems to be doing OK.
That isn't quite the end of the story though. A few years have passed since that story and Grandpa is still up to his old tricks. He lives in a very small town in Ohio, the kind where everybody knows everybody and there really isn't such a thing as a secret. He is friends with the undertaker in town, having known them nearly his whole life. He slipped the undertaker a bribe to tell the town gossips, of which his wife is friends with, that he had the biggest penis he had seen in his 40 years working in the business. This sis a story that would spread like wildfire and my Grandpa loves a prank and this may be the ultimate one. My Dad and him are laughing so hard that his business partner comes out and is worried about them. They tell this story, along with plans to record my Grandpa's voice so that each time someone comes up to the funeral viewing, there is a programmed phrase or joke that he tells from beyond the grave.
This caused such a stink that the business partner called my Grandma and my Aunt, relating this story and ultimately the made them swear not to do it, calling it sick and perverted. Somehow though, the three of us saw it as a perfectly reasonable plan of action for a funeral. I still hope he does it anyway though, at least with the bribe. Oh and he also re-took his picture for his tombstone, as that last one just wasn't right. This time, he's standing next to his headstone at his own plot with a shovel in his hand, that same cheesy grin on his face.
It sort of puts the day into perspective reminiscing about this story. That even in tragedy and hard times, there can still be humor and warmth. Hopefully all of my relatives will be able to get through these trails and find health and happiness. At any rate I hope that I have the same sense of humor when my times comes. Until then, I shall try to keep the smile on my families face, or at least in their hearts. Thanks for listening to me today.
End of Line.