Greg, Alan, and a can of
Clamato and Budweiser
Could catharsis be any weirder?
Our post-funeral family gathering is known as the "Real Fun". There is more laughter than tears throughout the evening. The requisite beverage is a can of Clamato and Budweiser.
So many people turned out to recognize Mom and to support her survivors. At least 50 people must have come through Jen's family home at some point last night to attend the Real Fun. There were familiar faces I hadn't seen in years, faces of all the family I grew up with, and faces I was introduced to for the first time.
It wasn't our typical family gathering over word games. There was a long, sober period when the floor was opened up, allowing anybody who wished to share memories of Mom. At one point, Dad requested that everybody sing together. Off to the side, photographs placed next to burning candles transformed an old wooden table into an altar. Despite the stark differences, it was our first gathering since Mom's death in which we carried on in the normal way my siblings and I might any other evening: lots of snacks, mostly non-alcoholic drinks, and plentiful games and silliness.
In an ominous turn, the "Drink of Death" (the can of Clamato/Bud) was already on hand at Jen's home. Mom happened to die the day Robin was to host her birthday party. Apropos of nothing, Robin had chosen a theme of "clams" for the celebration. There was to be a clam quiz, the children were to be fed clam snacks. In preparation for her daughter's birthday, Jen (recollecting Grampa's Real Fun) had bought the can of the Clamato/Bud combo as a prop for its humor value.
For those who might not have kept up with this weblog for long, the explanation of why we call the final gathering after a family member's funeral the "Real Fun" can be found here. It's where I chronicle Grampa's Real Fun--the first Real Fun. That entry also provides an explanation of how our tradition of strange beverage selection originated.