Things that are apparently needed for a man over 60 to attend an Italian wake (in no particular order):
- black shoes and white socks.
- Light blue or tan polyester suit.
- Striped tie at least 5 inches wide at the bottom.
- Pants that are pulled up to somewhere around your armpits.
- A plaid cabbie hat, or a tan and brown Stetson.
- A crushing handshake that says, "I still got it," and a desire to advertise this fact.
- 5-10 interesting and/or mind-numbingly boring anecdotes about "the old days."
- A tan wool coat with flap pockets and a fur collar.
- Varying amounts of body odor.
- Garlic. As much as you can get.
- Old Spice. As much as you can get.
Things that are apparently needed for a woman over 60 to attend an Italian wake (in no particular order):
- Enough perfume to consume all the available oxygen within a twenty-foot radius.
- Said perfume must smell like decaying flowers, or a mixture of Glade and Raid.
- Bright red lipstick specifically designed to come off on the cheeks of others.
- The genetic predisposition to slobber-kiss complete strangers.
- The ability to touch and kiss deceased people with no qualms whatsoever.
- 5-10 interesting and/or mind-numbingly boring anecdotes about "just last week."
- More fake fur than Chewbacca and the hairclub for men president combined.
The night was incredibly sad, and many tears were shed, but it wasn't without its laughs. For instance, before the wake when we were all at my wife's grandfather's house, I realized that I forgot my black wool coat that I normally wear with my suit. Her grandfather, in an attempt to be helpful, went into his closet and brought out a full-length tan overcoat with a white fur collar and said, "Here, wear this." I laughed and said, "I can't wear that. I'll look like a pimp." He said, "What do you mean? It's the coat I'm wearing tomorrow!" Then I asked him where his bitches be at. No, actually I'm lying about that part, but the rest is true.
Later on, after most of the crowd had gone, we got to reminiscing a little. Somehow or other the conversation came around to M____'s last words. I'm pretty sure her last words to my wife were "I love you so much."
Her last words to me were:
"They stuck it in my rectum."
Apparently, she was talking about her recently received dose of Tylenol, but she didn't initially clarify that fact. I didn't find that out until a bit later. It did clear up a few things in my mind, as you can imagine.
The previous day, before I had reluctantly learned how they give Tylenol to patients who can't swallow, she felt she needed to share another important fact with me. Obviously, since she had a stroke her voice wasn't always very intelligible and she had to work at it quite a bit. Sometimes, when she concentrated really hard on what she wanted to say and took her time, it came out right.
On this particular day, she made a little "come closer" motion with the finger on her good hand, and so I did. I held her hand and leaned in close to her face so I could pick up her whisper. She paused for a second, took a deep breath, and then said:
"Papa....is a fantastic lover."
I burst out laughing, and blinked away the tears that were starting to form. Why she couldn't just tell me "I love you so much" and leave it at that, I'll never know. I dutifully passed the proclamation on to my wife's grandfather, and it made him blush and laugh a lot, so... there's that.
She was a special lady.