coffinMy last few weeks have been a whirlwind of preparation for our trip to Jamaica for my grandmother’s funeral.  Getting passports, bracing our kids for their first time flying much less out of the country.  Explaining the rituals of our family.  We missed Aunt Bell’s grave-digging ceremony.  All told, they went through twelve chickens, three goats, and five gallons of rum.  After a shovel full of dirt, the digger asks for some rum.  After the next shovelful, more rum.

It takes a village to bury someone where we come from.

Because she passed a month prior, her nine night was postponed until the night before the funeral and condensed to one night.  A nine night traditionally is held for the nine days after someone’s passing.  Think of it as a 24 hour, 9 day long wake. With food (imagine the grave digging menu doubled).  And music.  And rum.

And a village.

Then came there funeral.  Here’s the re-cap from my tweets:

I’m going to ask your forgiveness in advance. Some friends wanted me to live tweet my grandmother’s funeral. But we were out in the country.

8:40 a.m., passed a group of mourners already walking up to the country for the funeral. For a noon start.

If my wife lost track of what color she was, there were plenty of shocked folks who kept calling out “whitey!”

“Whitey!” is now my new pet name for my wife. #soontobekickedoutofbed

9:30 a.m. the arrival of the first walk-in drunk claiming to be family. We gave him a bottle of rum and sent him on. #nothelpful

Unofficially, I’m standing in as pallbearer for my brother, @BroaddusAnthony

STAND UP, MAN! #AuntBellhasenteredthebuilding #respect

And … a marching band showed up. #notkidding #viewing

At this point I try explaining to my youngest the correlation between spectacle and our family… #funeral #viewing

viewing11:30 a.m. Good luck finding a seat. #standingroomonly

We couldn’t wait til noon. LET THE PRAISE SERVICE BEGIN! #funeral

The only thing missing is some violin accompaniment. (Misses @SheHasNoFilter ) #funeral

The head of the Maroon tribe has come to represent. #chief #funeral

We know our Bible. We will correct you mid-speech if you don’t come correct. #funeral

When my step-dad sang “His Eyes are on the Sparrow” me and my mom lost it. #funeral

My youngest confessed that he’s a sympathy cryer. Or gives in way too easy to peer pressure. #funeral

Entering its second hour… #funeral

THAT’S MY OLDEST WHO GAVE THE SECOND LESSON. CAN I GET A WITNESS? (1 Corinthians 15:50-58) #funeral

Oh Lord…who gave my mother the microphone? #uhoh

So … that just happened. #nevergivemymomthemic #yeahshesaidthat

I love Jesus, too, but I’m gonna need pastor to wrap this up…

…entering its third hour … #funeral

And the whole island joined in the weeping. #Jamaica #thunderstorm #funeral

marching bandThe marching band led the way to the graveside. The coolest musical processional this side of New Orleans. #Jamaica #funeral

And now a mob of bodies, free food, and rum …

 

And when I say mob of bodies, I mean people came in by the busload.  Only family was allowed in the house (but go back over my grandmother’s legacy of children and such and you can figure out how packed that left the house).  And they were all fed.  I lost track of how many goats, hogs, and fish gave of themselves for that send off.  But if there’s one thing my family knows how to do, it’s throw a party.