Up & Coming Weekly

August 15, 2017

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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AUGUST 16 - 22, 2017 UCW 5 WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM My first clue that Southern funeral customs differ from those elsewhere came years ago when someone near and dear — I no longer remember who — left us. Family and friends gathered. Casseroles, cakes, fried chicken and deviled eggs, all on dishes with the own- ers's names written in Sharpie ink and taped to the bottom, arrived by the dozen, and everyone went for his or her adult beverage of choice. Fred, the then-new hubby of a close cousin and a native Belgian, was scandalized. Why, he wailed, were we all camped out at the home of the deceased and chatting with his family? "ese people need their privacy to grieve!" he cried. Fred's opinion notwithstanding, Tar Heels born and bred and Southerners from elsewhere say farewell to our loved ones and the ones we did not love at all just like Frank Sinatra — we do it our way. We can have as many weddings as we want, but we all get only one funeral and associated gatherings, and some of them are truly memorable. Let's continue with food, which begins arriving the moment word gets out about a family's loss. So important is this custom that I have friends who keep casseroles frozen for this very purpose. My personal favorite in this area is a turkey breast, which can be yanked from the freezer in short order and roasted without many other ingredients. awing takes time, though, so I am rarely the first person at the door. e bible of funeral food is the hilarious "Being Dead is No Excuse: e Official Southern Ladies Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral." is is a laugh- out-loud account by Gayden Metcalfe of our funeral customs complete with analysis of who brings the best funeral food — Baptists, Methodists or Episco- palians. It offers recipes for funeral staples, including tomato aspic, coconut cake and pickled shrimp. e best friends of the lady of the house run the funeral kitchen, keep lists of who brought what on which dish and make sure "the family" is sated not only during their immediate bereavement but for weeks afterward. Once it is clear that no one, not counting the de- ceased, is going to starve, it's time to plan the funeral. Religious traditions vary, but there are a few general rules. In direct contrast to Fred's call for privacy, in the South it is generally OK to attend funerals of people you might have known only slightly. After all, fami- lies appreciate a good crowd and consider it a mark of the dearly departed's standing in the community. Southern decorum seems to demand a euphemism — passed away — for what has occurred, although I prefer the factual "died." oughtful Southerners plan our own funerals, sparing our loved ones the ordeal of figuring out what we would have liked. is includes who might speak, scriptures to be read, hymns to be sung, what flowers in what vases, who sits where, limousines or not and other matters deemed critical to a proper send-off. I have even heard of one woman who froze casseroles for her own funeral, apparently believing that no one could make them better than she could. When it's time for the service, other motorists will pull off the road in deference to the deceased and the grieving family as the funeral cavalcade passes, a custom people from elsewhere consider a traffic haz- ard. Sometimes friends and family members share memories during the service, but this custom makes me nervous because sometimes they share too much — the good, the bad and the truly ugly. In my view, such memories are best talked about at home with a beverage and a plate of fried chicken. A great deal of talking also risks cringe-worthy comments like "Pearl was a real pearl," which I heard at a Charlotte funeral years ago and which convinced me that less is more when it comes to speaking publicly about the deceased. en there are the flowers. Some families like them big and bold, some more restrained, but whatever they are, they should be real, not artificial and cer- tainly not plastic. Also on my no-no list are "theme" funerals, which I learned about from Southern Living magazine. It seems that some families have taken to memorializing the departed by highlighting his or her favorite pastime — camouflage caskets for hunters, fishermen buried in their boats, sports fans memori- alized by team colors. Yikes! Over the nearly half-century of his marriage, Fred has come around to the Southern way of saying good- bye, a sort of "bon voyage for a life well-lived" — or not. I think he agrees that funerals bring out the best in Southerners, our reverence for family and friends and a deeply felt caring for the needs of others. e time for grieving in private will come to all of us, but in the immediate aftermath of a death there is nothing like the distraction of the loving comfort of those who know us well. Coming next week: Southern Obituaries Greatest Hits. The Big Southern Send-Off by MARGARET DICKSON OPINION MARGARET DICKSON, Columnist. COMMENTS? Editor@upandcomin- gweekly.com. (910) 484-6200. 2017 Best of Fayetteville Special Edition • Coming Sept. 20, 2017 ATTENTION LOCAL BUSINESSES...NEED CUSTOMERS? Advertise & promote your business all year long effectively and affordably! UP & COMING WEEKLY'S Advertise, market and promote your business in the most popular, most read edition of the year! RESERVE YOUR SPACE TODAY! For more information, rates and deadlines call (910) 484-6200 SEPTEMBER 16 - 22, 2015 VOLUME 20 ISSUE 37 1 9 9 6 - 2 0 1 5 YEARS 20 .com FAYETTEVILLE'S LOCAL COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER FAYETTEVILLE'S LOCAL COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER UP & COM ING W EEKLY 'S And The Winner Is... The Musings of Pitt Dickey Man of La Mancha at CFRT Givens Performing Arts Center Cirque Montage UP & COM I NG W EEKLY 'S Some families prefer bold f lowers at Southern funerals and some prefer a more restrained approach. A great deal of talking also risks cringe-worthy comments. (Scene from the film "Steel Magnolias" pictured above.)

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