The missive about my father brought back memories to many of my hometown friends. The one that struck me the most was the comment about Dad’s funeral.
“He was so late to his own funeral that it was almost over by the time he arrived.”
Is there a story there, you might ask? Well, as a matter of fact, there is.
You see, Father was late for EVERYTHING except Kiwanis and his tee times. Every one in town (it seemed) knew to expect Giz when he got there. The running joke was that he would be late for his own funeral.
And he was. But it really wasn’t his fault this time.
Father passed away in La Mesa, near San Diego. His burial was to be in our hometown of Lindsay some 300 miles to the north. Arrangements were made. Detailed instructions were given. They were to bring him to the mortuary in Lindsay the day before his services were to be held. They were given detailed directions to the place in question.
Instead of taking the route set forth in those instructions, the hearse drivers decided not to drive through Los Angeles (which is the shortest route). They chose to drive through the Mojave Desert.
(For those of you unfamiliar with California, please scroll to the bottom of the map. You will see San Diego. To the north of LA, find Bakersfield. Just north of that is a little town called Porterville. Lindsay (not on the map) is just north of that.)
The difference in travel time is about 30 minutes. No big deal.
But, it is a rural route. Not a great deal of traffic except for trucks. There are few facilities between small towns. No place for gas. No one to fix a flat tire on a hearse. It is a desert.
Now I may have failed to mention that the drivers didn’t leave La Mesa until the DAY OF THE SERVICES. They apparently saw no reason to come any earlier.
While we all gathered on a warm day, in the sun, in the cemetery in Lindsay, they (with my father) waited for a tow truck to come and fix their flat tire. In the middle of the Mojave Desert.
We all waited for Giz.
The minister, who had not known father for very long, asked people to tell stories about him. We all found them quite funny but the minister was a little uncomfortable. These people had known Father from his Army Air Corps days and the stories were….they were real. And they were funny.
There was the one about Mom and Dad sharing a house in Lancaster with the Millers. It had to do with the hole in the floor. The minister actually tried to stop that story!
We were still waiting for Giz.
Story after story and then, in desperation, the minister started the formal service.
I honestly don’t remember when he did arrive. But he finally did.
I swear he was sitting on the awning laughing with all of us. I am sure he sang along with Virginia Hanigan.
And I don’t every want to know what my older brother said to those drivers. I do know that they were out more than just gas money.
We laugh about it to this day, some 26 years later.
The only man I know who really was late to his own funeral. But he never missed a tee time!