The gentle tones of somber music drew me into the room where the others were gathered. A collection of soft liturgical melodies gently floated on the air.
The man in charge spoke somberly and decisively to the others assisting him for the service. “That goes over here!” He said, pointing to the casket. He directed the other man to lay the cloth over the top of the final resting box for the departed. “No, not like that. Turn it this way!”
He changed his mind several times and the others followed directions, making adjustments at his every whim. For someone who stood less than four feet tall, he certainly knew what he wanted and would settle for nothing less.
“Here lies Rose!” He declared boldly. “She was a good sister!” Someone gave an exaggerated cry. I was beginning to have trouble distinguishing those who worked for the funeral home and those who were in mourning. No other words were spoken about the recently departed Rose. A spontaneous hymn broke out and the Officiant insisted everyone sing along. There was occasional snickering from from the staff/mourners.
The whole affair was run pretty efficiently aside from an occasional moment, here or there, that was as fraught as a parade of clown cars on the Autobahn with Napoleon Bonaparte at the wheel in the lead car.
I had to give them credit, though. The perfectly arranged pile of blankets in our dining room was the exact shape of a coffin. Later I would peek under the colorful ensemble to see how Oliver had done it. It was just a perfect stack of blankets. He had enlisted the help of his brothers to find the perfect music on YouTube to play in the background.
Hearing the noises, I had walked in right as three of them had stood somberly with their hands folded and two more of them stood to the side watching with fascination.
It was, hands down, the best send off to an imaginary friend/sister I had ever witnessed.
After the service for Rose concluded, Oliver continued to practice his craft with a couple more ceremonies for a few deceased stuffed animals. Mortuary sciences ran in the family, after all, and there was a reputation to uphold. His Great-great-grandfather had been in the business back in Montana generations before.
I snuck out the side entrance of the room, chuckling. You just never knew what you might encounter around here.