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Best funerals have fried chicken, a few surprises
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I go to my fair share of funerals. Some of them are related to my work, others are folks I have known and cared for.

I like a good funeral, where someone has lived a long life and is remembered for their faith, love of country and community and love of family.

I enjoy funerals that have that "wow" moment, when you learn something about the departed that gives you a warm and joyous feeling.

I don't know what was said, but at a funeral in Phoenix recently, a fight broke out. Not just involving a couple of people, but according to reports, was a brawl of 30 people. The police were called and no one had to be hauled off to jail.

My friend, Bruce Goddard, a guy who is both a humorist and a funeral director, tells the story of when a man died in the town where Bruce operated a funeral home. Two different women showed up claiming to be Mrs. John Doe (whatever his name was).

After the death of Charles Kuralt, the legendary CBS News correspondent, it was discovered that he had a second family in the Midwest, unknown to his original family.

I only have one family and I hope they will show up when I go. A good number of my extended family has passed away. If there is a crowd, you can tell them you're my long-lost cousin and get a better seat. It might also benefit you if you're looking for a certain piece of fried chicken.

Incidentally, the fried chicken will be served afterward. Our church frowns on eating in the sanctuary.

A few years ago, I came across a funny book, "Being Dead Is No Excuse: The Official Southern Ladies Guide To Hosting the Perfect Funeral." As the author points out, the two big events in a Southern woman's life are a wedding and a funeral. You can take a year or more to plan one, but the other has to come together in two or three days.

I am totally old school when it comes to funerals.

I think you ought to get out the good china in the hopes that neighbors will bring some of their Southern best. The trouble is there aren't as many cooks who can fry a whole chicken with a biscuit accompaniment.

I've been to some homes where folks have brought store-bought chicken in the take-out carton. Oh heck, put it on your own platter and cover it in aluminum foil. If you're not dressed up when you drop it by the house, dust a little flour on your forehead to give the impression that you just walked out of a hot kitchen.

My friend, Mark Green, who is about the best thing to come out of Alabama since Interstate 20, has promised to lead the singing at my service. I've also promised to speak at the end of his service. So, whoever goes first gets the better end of this deal.

I've told Mark that I want to sing about two dozen first verses of old hymns. You'll enjoy favorites like "Victory in Jesus," "The Old Rugged Cross," "When We All Get To Heaven," "At Calvary," "Amazing Grace" and many more.

I'm hoping it occurs sometime around 2066. I'll be a ripe old 106 and I sure hope folks are punching themselves about my being shot by a 26-year-old jealous husband.

By then, my friends will be too old for a fight to break out.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on

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