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William C. Altreuter
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Monday, October 06, 2014

I just got back from the funeral of a total stranger.

I was reading the paper Sunday when I saw an obit for Pamela X. There was no information about a wake, and the funeral was today. I glanced at the survivors, saw the name by which Captain X is more widely known, and made a note of the time and church where the funeral was to be. I hadn't heard from Captain X in a few weeks, and reckoned that this must be why.

When I got to the church it was packed to the walls. I slipped into a pew towards the back and started to look around, but I saw nobody that I knew or recognized.

The pallbearers and coffin entered. Oddly, I recognized none of them. They were all terribly broken up. The Mass commenced. We'd gotten past the opening prayers, and were into the  first reading, which was being given by someone I'd never seen before. I snuck a look at the Order of Service, and realized that none of the people named had names that matched known X siblings. I slipped out through a side door, and called Captain X's office. "He is out of the office at a meeting," the receptionist said. "At a meeting or at a funeral?" I asked. "He said it was a meeting..." she said. "Well, look, if he was at his mother's funeral would he have told you that?" I... think so," she said.

This was getting me nowhere, so I decided to call Mrs. X-X.  I suppose I should work on my telephone manners, which I grieve over during the long nights. "Hello?"
"Did I get you in church?"
"No, why?"
 "How's Captain X's mom?"
"Who is this!".
" Hi X, it's Bill Altreuter. How's Captain X's mom?"
"She's fine. They were just over for dinner last night. Why?
"Well, I'm glad to hear it, because the lady whose funeral I just left wasn't doin' so good."

Another morning shot to hell. I considered sticking around for the breakfast, but decided against it. It's not that often you can walk away from a funeral serene in the knowledge that whoever it is that is grieving, everyone you know is okay.


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