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June 18, 2012 / janesezso

Hypocrisy in Death


So Rodney King has died over the weekend and the comments I see flying around about his death have been twofold. On the one hand, people are filled with hate and spite calling the recently deceased what they will.  On the other hand, bleeding hearted liberals who cannot stand to call anybody “terrible,”  especially when they can relate to them, put on their holier-than-thou facade and reprimand the former. I know nothing about this man nor could I care less, but seeing comments by so many people about his death just makes me wonder about this phenomenon.

Why is it when people die, we suddenly have to respect them and talk about them as if they were the best thing that ever happened to mankind? Oftentimes, this type of rhetoric come from the very same people who disrespected them when they were alive. I have sat through more funerals and wakes than I care to recall and have listened to people lie in the house of God or listened to people finally “talk well” of the deceased at their wakes, all the while carrying an arrogant countenance of feigned piety. My mother’s funeral and wake was exactly like this. Over the years, I heard about my mother’s relatives mistreating her or talking ill of her, year after year, day after day. The treatment that she received from her own relatives caused her so much sadness and heartache that she frequently shared them with me with endless tears and painfully into the nights. As a result, I hated attending family events. I had no desire to hear these people talk about my mother much less look at them. I would go to family gatherings for my mother’s sake because I loved her, but I certainly hated being there. How could I ignore the sorrow that she felt because of the relentless abuse she received from her own family? These people were her cousins, nieces or sisters or other relatives. I listened to my mother’s stories, watched her wipe away tears and never would I interrupt, but inside I felt the sadness that she felt.

So when I lost my mother to cancer, the effects of the loss remain inexplicable and still very painful. It changed the woman that I was from being one of the masses to becoming one of the “displaced.” Suddenly, I no longer fit into the world. My list of priorities was turned upside-down.  I could no longer relate to the superficial material world that focused on image and wealth. I would spend my birthdays alone because it was then that I missed her the most.  Yet, the world went on:  The sun shone, the rain fell, people laughed and people cried. It was almost as if someone took a pencil and erased her.  The world was still here, it had not changed, but my mother was gone. I had lost my best friend, my mother and my confidante.

So within a week’s time after her death, I had to plan a funeral, a wake and a reception and be surrounded by the very people who in life despised my mother, but now in death, their smug sanctimony and hypocrisy would be on display not only for the world to see, but certainly also very visible to me.

My siblings and I swore not to wear black at her funeral or wake because she had not wanted us to mourn her death, but rather rejoice that she was joining our Father in Heaven. My mother’s wake was in the hot summer month of July. I wore a classic white summer dress, shoulder-less and cut above the knees. Tan from the summer, it would have been a dress that she would have loved on me. I had worn it for her. Within ten minutes, however, we were fiercely reprimanded by my Aunt who along with her family were draped in all black. We were scolded for not “showing respect.” I bit my tongue. This woman was one who always spoke horribly about my mother. What does she know about what my mother wanted or respect towards her for that matter? Silently, I disregarded and ignored her and went about attending to the matters at hand.  All the while, unable to forget or shake off the fact that my mother’s dead body was in an open casket a stone’s throw away.

As I walked around the room, I would catch snippets of conservations people had amongst themselves and later was told about “rumors” (instigated by my very own sisters) that were going around. Words about how great my mother was, how sweet she was, and how horrible her children were to each other (particularly, my little brother and me and the way we were dressed and how we were not fair to our other siblings). Again, I ignored their petty and foolish words and I couldn’t help but think, why couldn’t they have been kind to my mother when she was alive? When it really mattered. And to be at her wake with her body close by while spouting out lies and hypocrisy.  Blood may be thicker than water, but not for me.  The only thing that really matters is truth and there is nothing more true than hypocrisy in death.

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