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Fireball Nana and her Last Heavy Lesson

My mother is a keen expert in  Catholic Guilt. She has learned the art with gusto and can summon a yes out of me with ease of a sniff or hint of illness. It’s no surprise that she learned it  from the best – her mother.

Pallbearers at the Ready - Ginger Lovellette

My Nana was a fireball of words and was an extremely sore loser at cards. It’s not that she didn’t love us but she liked to test us. Perhaps, it was by calling our husband by our ex-boyfriends names, or point out without exception when we gained weight. But she loved us in her odd way  always disappointed that we never fulfilled any of her dreams of becoming nuns, saints, or priests.

It was when she died it was unbeknownst to me that the family had decided a grandchild from each family would be a pallbearer. My Mom went to my sister and she wisely declined. As I sipped my wine our mother glanced my way ‘You can be the pallbearer. We need one from each family.”

“I don’t want to do it.”

“You have to your sister won’t! So that means you!”

“Do I have too?”

“Yes! You do!”


“We have to have someone represent us. I can’t do it! I just can’t” she sniffed and then peered up to see if I would take the bait.

“Isn’t the casket heavy to lift?”

“Don’t worry about there will be a trolley. You won’t have to lift. You just have to walk beside and help wheel it down.”

The morning of the funeral was cold with a light snow as we arrived at the church.  We walked in I waited back with a motley crew of cousins two already had a nip at the bottle, one was recovering from heart surgery, another that weighed less than a hundred pounds, one cranky as me for having to participate in the service.

We were ushered outside to the front of the church. The gentleman from the funeral home informed us that we would have to assist with removing the coffin from the hearse. It was there we all looked for the trolley to wheel her up the stairs.

We looked and then we  looked at each other – we were all to carry the coffin up the mountain of icy stairs and down the long church aisle. How could this happen? In the madness of it all I and my other cousin were placed in the front to bare the heaviest of the casket. My shoes slipped, my cousin who had a nip, “Hold on! Does everyone got her?”

I suspected he mumbled the words old trout under his breath.

We slowly walked up the icy steps, our faces beat red, puffing and panting.  Nana and the coffin were much heavier than expected, it was at that moment,  I cursed my Mom, I cursed my heels, and the coffin  began to tilt someone screamed, “Hold on! We`re losing her! Don’t drop Nana!”

It was with panic we all held on for dear life and knew if we dropped Nana it would be the end to us all. The Aunts would never forgive us and we would be thrown into our own private hell.  We all caught balanced and managed walking the coffin down the aisle. After we returned to the pews, my one cousin was having chest pains, the other was looking for his flask, and my other cousin turned to me and replied, “Nana was heavy! But I didn’t think she was that heavy.”

It’s with that is the memory of my grandmother’s funeral all six of us guilted into carrying the casket up the aisle and almost dropping Nana. I could almost hear her in heaven as she nipped her gin, “I wouldn’t be surprised if they did drop me! One of them at least could have been a nun or a priest!”

It was after the funeral I returned home that I vowed to learn to use the word No with gusto! It was that evening I toasted Nana with a glass of lime pop and gin thanking her for her last heavy lesson. If I could return to that day I would have much prefered to be in the pew mustering a tear or two  instead of dealing with the fear of Nana’s holy  ghost.

Is there a day you would like to return to and just say no?

Categories: catholic guilt fun funerals funny guilt how to say no Humor Life my life NaBloPoMo pall bearer return using the word no

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Darcie Cameron is a RYT 200 who believes Yoga is a gift that is accessible to everyone with proper modifications, a patient smile and just taking the time to breathe. One of the greatest presents you will ever unwrap is when you connect your mind, body and spirit in perfect sync with your own breath. Connect with Darcie on Facebook

46 replies

  1. Hilarious! I am having a lil snack now, just getting home from work and am about to go walk my dog. You have given me something to think about- something I would say NO to if I could have??? I must admit I have only ever thought about things (luckily not too many) that I wish I had said YES to.

  2. Har… thank goodness you didn’t drop her. Sheesh, I’m picturing the casket bounding down the stairs, inverting, the latch popping, and out comes…

    best it didn’t happen.

  3. OH how I delighted in your story from moment one. I am Catholic yet guilty? Yeah i’ve past that stage… Back to you and some vivid thoughts… hanging on with dear life, i imagine you, ever thinking of the doom and gloom you would face from being scorned for dropping this dearly departed soul…and on sacred ground nonetheless….

    Thank you for a smile and a giggle after a long trying day…. after reading your blags name, heaven or hell couldn’t keep me from reading a bit about you….now for the rest of the words that make you up…. I’m going to dig my teeth into them while I prepare to hit the sack….


  4. Love this…I can so relate with “the Aunts”. My Mom and all four of her sisters are affectionately referred to as the Aunts. My mother-in-law loves to play guilt games to get people to do things for her. I say there isn’t much pleasure in doing something for someone out of guilt.

    I have a sister who is a nun and a brother who went to seminary for a year and then quit and is married with eight children. I wonder which one your Nana would have been proudest of???

    1. God Bless! My grandmother would have saw that as a pass into heaven! Her worst fear was death and purgatory. Every Sunday we would go to her house for supper and as we left she would sprinkle us with holy water from the gin bottle. My mother also has four sisters we refer to as “the aunts” and they are a force you never want to reckon with…

  5. How did your sister get out of this so easy? Is she older? I am sorry, but I couldn’t help but chuckle at the “site” of you guys struggling not to drop nana! Isn’t it amazing what a mother’s guilt can make us do? Lord knows my mom has me whipped with her guilt trips. I can’t think of a day I wish I said “no” but in general, I am OK with saying “no” to things I am not comfortable with, but have an issue saying no to things that need to be done. I constantly take on more roles and responsibilities, even though I know I can’t handle them, and then I just end up feeling frustrated and overwhelmed….

    1. My sister is older and she has away of saying No that lets my Mom know she can’t lay a good guilt trip on her. I on the other hand am the youngest and much more easily guilted into such things. It’s scary feeling when you get to the point of frustration! Thank God for wine! And lots of it!

  6. I love how you say she “was a fireball of words”. As to the guilt trips. Who needs them but they are ofte used on children by their parents, one the children grow beyong the age of simple ordering. The funeral sounds hilarious if it hadn’t been so scary. I’m realy glad you didn’t drop her too

    1. My family is a hilarity! It’s just another day in all of our dysfunction…It would have been awful if we dropped her – I don’t even want to think about it! The good thing about catholic is I had a good stiff drink after the funeral to recover…

      1. I hope you got extra benefits like enjoying a nip of the red wine 😉 I remember being really mad as a child because they wouldn’t let me be an alter boy. I would have been terrible at it! I didn’t realize I was already a heathen in training…

  7. To my mum? Oh, yes. Ohymygod, yes. There are so many…. She’s not Catholic, but she gets that look, you know? And then we just know that any negative utterance will be the end of us. Most notable, though, was the time she trimmed her hair down to about 1/2″ except for a few long tendrils at the back. Mum: “Isn’t it GREAT?” Oh. My. God.

      1. I had a sudden “coughing fit” and she rushed off to get me a glass of water. It’s horribly deceptive, I know, but I had no choice but to play the Ailing Daughter card in that situation!

  8. Belle,my Mom is visiting me right now; she is Catholic and I was raised Catholic (now Baptist). I read this post out loud to her and we both were laughing so hard by the second paragraph that I almost couldn’t finish. Thank you for writing this!


  9. Thank you for the giggle. I was married to a Catholic Guilt!! I think he’s now managed to turn it into an art form!

    I have a wonderful image of the funeral. in your shoes I’d have probably dropped her then collapsed into a fit of the giggles – which wouldn’t have helped really!!

  10. I’m really happy you said yes – it will be a memory I will bring along to funerals with me from now on – a little reminder that we are but dust and that we all have to struggle along, supporting ourselves and each other as best we can. Thanks for sharing this! 🙂

  11. Hi Belle!

    I am awarding you the Versatile Blogger Award. My award is a little different from the others floating around; you don’t have to do anything to accept this award. Period.

    If you have not won the award before, you might consider doing one or all of the following three things: 1) Link back in your blog to my blog; 2) Nominate other blogs, as many or as few as you like, for the award and let them know about it, or 3) in a post of your choosing, list seven interesting facts about yourself. If you are winning this award from me, but don’t recall checking out my blog, please feel free to do so.

    If you don’t feel like doing any of this, that’s okay too; you still deserve the award.

    Here is what I wrote about your blog in the post that is going out tomorrow:

    Belle’s blog (and Belle may not be her real name but is short than continually writing “Belle of the Carnival” over and over) is about different things that happen to her throughout her life. Her recent post, about an important lesson her grandmother taught her, was so funny that I couldn’t read it out loud to my Mom through the second paragraph without both of us laughing so hard I almost didn’t finish. You may find it interesting to know that she is a “domesticated clown.”

    Congratulations! You deserve it!


  12. Hmm…maybe the day my ex-wife asked me out?

    (Yes, she asked me…though in my defense, I was going to ask her that very same night. She just beat me to the punch. And considering my take on Fate and Destiny and how “everything happens for a reason” I don’t really mean that…besides, if I had said no, I wouldn’t have my kids now).

    1. Mark, I’ve been married 47 years – my husband still tolerates me, because I gave birth to two kids he loves dearly. Destiny is inevitable; reason demands purpose; and purpose is to be successful. You did good!

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