When I was a kid, I was fortunate enough to get to go to the funeral of my Uncle Ben. I had very little interest in and had wasted no affection on him, but did appreciate getting the honor of being a “member of the family” at the funeral. I was knowledgeable now about the ways of the world and looked forward to the ride to the graveside service. At the time, it was the custom for the mourners to follow the hearse holding the guest of honor in a very, very slow procession from the church to the gravesite. As we proceeded, oncoming traffic pulled over as a gesture of respect to the deceased. I tried to put on a tragic face as I proudly looked out the windows at all those unfortunate enough not to be in mourning.
Green carpeting draped the mounds of dirt surrounding the grave. A few chairs were reserved for chief mourners. As we all gathered respectfully around the coffin, Brother Bond read a few bible verses, and spoke glowingly of the deceased. It was clear, he didn’t know Uncle Ben like we did, but nobody corrected him. At the close of the brief service, my six uncles serving as pall-bearers prepared the coffin for its descent into the grave, never suspecting the gravediggers had overestimated the size of the grave needed and draped carpeting over their miscalculation. As they somberly approached the coffin, three of the six pall-bearers stepped on the carpet-draped hole and tumbled into the grave along with the open coffin. Uncle Ben joined them as they rolled around in the red clay at the bottom of the grave, but only the pall-bearers clambered out. I was fascinated to learn that bodies are buried with their suits split up the back. All in all it was great afternoon. I’ve always thought more warmly of Uncle Ben since then.