The Latest in Funeral Fashion


December 14, 2011 by Marj Hatzell

Dad was in the Air Force. Me? Afraid to fly and get sick on planes. IRONY!

It’s amazing how your life can change in an instant. In a blink of an eye, even.

I know life changes every single day. That’s life, right? It just kind of happens. It’s like a box of chocolates (you never know what you’re going to get). I’m not beneath quoting Forrest Gump, you know.

What I didn’t count on? My father’s death. He was the leader in our family. The glue that held us together. The one with the answers, the supportive hug, the pat on the back. His family was more important to him that ANYTHING on this earth. When we asked him what he wanted for birthday or Christmas? His standard answer: Time with my family.

My father “got it” see. He knew that our time on earth here is short, relatively speaking. I mean, he got 72 awesome years. And then f*cking cancer destroyed his bowel and we had four short months. Four wonderful months, until his body just couldn’t do it anymore. But in the end we were all there with him. We all held his hand as he slipped away and told him how much we loved him. And then we planned his funeral. CHA CHING!

Boy, is that expensive. Oy.

We had a week after he passed until the memorial service (my dad donated his body to a medical school. Even in death he was kind and giving). Which should have been plenty of time to find something to wear, right?


See, my Dad was all about enjoying life. He wasn’t into being melancholy or drab. He was about being happy. Black was NOT ACCEPTABLE to him. Colors were. He wore colors. HOOOOBOY, he wore colors. Sometimes they were hard to look at. AHEM. As in, flourescent aqua blue tee-shirt under his white dress shirt for church. And denim overalls. It was a quite a sight to behold. Or his Hawaiian shirts. Fancy schmancy. He was quite the snazzy dresser. And by snazzy, I mean he certainly drew attention but my Dad was the kind of guy that was all I REALLY DO NOT CARE WHAT YOU THINK so as far as he was concerned, he looked pretty dapper.

Anyways, shopping. I dragged my three sisters out one by one. I took my niece. My neighbor’s girls. I spent every day, several hours a day, looking in every single clothing store in the tristate area (Delaware, PA and New Jersey, because that’s where I live. No, not New Jersey. PA. Oh, nevermind). As in, one day I hit eleven stores. One by one, my sisters and niece and sisters-in-law would find something to wear. One by one they vowed never to shop with Picky McPickyton again (and they mean it this time). Because I’m picky and I wanted to find something colorful. Something sky blue (his favorite color). Something cheerful and comfortable, because stockings and high heels just ain’t my bag, yo. Actually, yoga pants and sneakers are. Not exactly funeral attire. Unless you are my Dad. Maybe I shoulda just worn pajamas. Anyways.

Wanna know what’s in stores in December?  NOT BLUE.

My choices were black velvet, black polyester, red and purple. But no blue. Oh, there was some grey. How could i forget? But nothing blue.  I looked and looked and looked some more. I mean, it’s not like there’s a section at the big department stores called Funeral attire. Even if there was a section exclusively for funerals, I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t have found anything anyway. Mostly because woman’s clothing is too mature for me and I haven’t quite gotten the fact in my head that I shouldn’t wear juniors, see. This may be why it was difficult to find something to wear. I shop in the pajama section.

My sisters avoided me like the plague. They were right to do so.

The night before, with minutes to spare, I settled for a blue cashmere sweater that was on sale, wore it with a cream-colored tank, with a black skirt with black leggings (almost yoga pants. Almost.) under it and a pretty silk scarf around my neck. I thought I looked like a circus clown.

But at least I was comfy, right?

I walked into the church that morning and received a few dozen compliments so unless folks are really into circus clown attire, I am thinking I pulled it off. Not that my dad would care (this is a man who wore overalls to church, y’all) but I did. And it occurred to me that the reason I couldn’t find the PERFECT thing to wear was because I didn’t want to wear something to do my Dad’s funeral. I didn’t want to be at my Dad’s funeral. Because I wasn’t ready for my Dad’s funeral. I mean, who is really ready for that sort of thing?

But hey, in the end, he got his wish. Our whole family was there and the church was packed. We thought of him fondly and shared memories. We used several boxes of tissues and we smiled, hugged, shook hands and thanked people for coming. You know, standard funeral stuff. And true to form, Bug Boy pouted the entire time because I wouldn’t let him play with his iPod during the service. MEANEST MOMMY IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD. I mean, THE NERVE. Sheesh!

Now we’re back to reality. Finding the new normal. Trying to catch up with two weeks worth of laundry and housekeeping. Attempting to get decorations up so my kids don’t stage a mutiny and fire me from Christmas. I might even get cards out this year. Or not. That requires organization. One thing I ain’t? Organized. (Shhhh…that’s a secret. I don’t want tens of people on the Internet reading it or anything.)

And I have a nice cashmere sweater hanging in my closet.

28 thoughts on “The Latest in Funeral Fashion

  1. Stephanie says:

    Marj, I thought you looked great that day. Lol. And I’m glad I was able to be there to listen to the wonderful stories about your dad. I only wish I had the pleasure of really knowing such an amazing man.. 🙂

  2. Grace says:

    A friend’s father passed away last year. At his memorial service, guests were asked (required) to wear flannel shirts, because the guest of honor was an extremely unpretentious man and basically lived in them. I did not get that memo and was duly chastised for my choice of jeans and a sweater. It was kind of strange looking at a crowd gathered in a funeral home wearing nothing but plaid flannel, but I’m sure it made the man of the hour happy.

    My condolences on the loss of your father.

  3. Dawn says:

    transitions in life are never easy. But you’re right. Now you start on a new journey, and you have to give yourself time to figure out how.

    cashmere, eh? fancy SCHMANCY. 😉

    and btw–overalls ROCK.

  4. The new normal. Always kind of a b**ch to get used to.

  5. Dude. I am so sorry to hear about your loss. I am not sure if it is the fact that I am a daddy now or what, but this post made me cry…hard. Hang in there!

    Now, I have to go and try and be a better dad.

  6. Nysa says:

    I am sorry about your father, Marj 😦 I had the opposite problem with attire when my grandmother died last year. It was summertime. Do you know how hard it is to find a dark dress for a toddler in the summer? It was a big catholic mass, so she really needed it. I ended up settling for a brown dress with big white flowers all over it. Definitely not funeral attire, but you do what you have to.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I never knew your Dad but I love him … for giving the world YOU. Marj, you are a light — I love you muchly. I cannot wait to hug you next week.

  8. By the way, anonymous up there is me!

  9. Janet says:

    Your outfit sounds delightful! Glad you didn’t go traditional.

    When my mom died, I wore an eggplant dress that I had. It felt like the right thing to do. Though when my dad remarried the following year my sister told me I couldn’t wear it as my step-mom’s attendent so I found a different purple outfit. For my dad, I wore slacks and some sort of jacket (not black) because I have an ASD kiddo to keep track of. This past June, for my step-mom I got a fake linen suit — black slacks and bright pink jacket. But that was right for her.

    Hugs to you and your family. I know this holiday season is going to be different without your dad – some tears, but hopefully lots of laughter and great memories.

  10. Crissie says:

    Thanks a lot. Now I am crying at work.

  11. joeinvegas says:

    Air Force – flying? I joined the Navy and can’t swim and get seasick.

    Love the colors, nice of you to make the effort.

  12. Sandy Shoes says:

    So sorry to hear of your loss. I’ve been following for awhile but never commented. I lost my dad a few years ago and occassionally there are tears, still. You never get over losing a parent but it does get a little easier over time. It’s especially hard on Christmas as that was his and Mom’s wedding anniversary, too.

    Sandy Shoes.

  13. Jim Griffith says:

    I think your Dad would be very happy,just for the notion of trying to find something more upbeat. He always made an impression of being the very kind and understanding type. So sorry for your loss; for me my mind kept going to my own kids during the service. How supportive as a father have I always been? Can I do better? It was truly a testament to your father how you all celebrated and remembered him, and it was an honor to be a part.

  14. Janet says:

    My Dad worked for Hostess for 30+ years and when he died we had Twinkies and Cupcakes for dessert after his service. No one was on a diet that day. My sympathies to you and your family.

  15. Sue Warren says:

    Lovely tribute–it IS a tribute, you know. Funerals are no longer the staid affairs of fifty years ago.
    Enjoyed your perspective and I’m glad I met your dad on many occasions. Stay strong.

  16. […] Skip to content HomeAutism/Special Needs Resource StuffPeople I Stalk and Stuff (Blog Links)Stuff About The Domestic GoddessReviews, Media, Contact and Stuff ← The Latest in Funeral Fashion […]

  17. Sugel says:

    Yes. But not to the extent that I’m going to think that people who dress differently, or with brighter colors, or extremely formally or relatively informally, are doing some drastically offensive. I haven’t seen a strapless dress at a funeral yet — that would raise my eyebrows. (I do sometimes see them at weddings, and they raise my eyebrows there.) Informal beach-like attire (short shorts, flip-flops) would raise my eyebrows also, probably more. Since the strapless dress to me at least expresses “I must do something special” whereas the extremely informal attire to me suggests self-centeredness.However one of the reasons I left the Episcopal church for several years is that I felt completely inadequate in my clothes, so I would not want to put that burden on someone else. Also such judgmentalness on my part would not be fair to other people, and would be particularly ironic given this story:When my grandfather died, the most black-like clothes I owned was a charcoal plaid skirt, with a red stripe. I wore that, with some trepidation (I regretted the red stripe), but it was the best I could do from my wardrobe. (I barely could find bus money to get to the funeral, and wasn’t in a position to buy something else. If that had even occurred to me, in my preoccupation with “must pack and get down there.”) I hope people at the funeral were not thinking too much “she must not be sad or love or respect him at all to be wearing that outrageous skirt.” When in fact it was the best I could do.I’d rather have people at the funeral than not, regardless of what they’re wearing.

  18. […] part of him. And seeing Cujo move on, well, made me emotional yesterday. Especially since it was a month yesterday that he was gone. Sigh. It does get a little easier, […]

  19. […] And I don’t want to lie, because I’m a painfully truthful person. You can blame Big Harve. […]

  20. Your outfit sounds delightful! Glad you didn’t go traditional..

  21. […] left reeling, our house was in chaos, I was often in tears. I was dealing with my father’s death, my medical issues and the boys’ were barely staying glued […]

  22. […] well. And on top of it all, Christmas. Not busy enough yet?? There’s the little matter of the anniversary of my Dad’s passing last year. I still don’t feel I’ve mourned properly. But I’m ready to move on and stop […]

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