I’m sorry to report that the old lady upstairs passed away. She was 89. How I found out about this of course, wasn’t from the fact that I no longer heard her drag her daily chair across my forehead each morning at 6:25am sharp. Nor, was it the sudden drop in centimeters of dust and threads that she enjoyed shaking out over my balcony each and every day.
I discovered the event upon coming home to find the front door of our building layered in 29 ft. long grey velvet drapes with gold trim. I naturally figured that either the Pope was coming to visit or that Liberace had just moved into that empty first floor apartment.
Turns out, I was wrong on both accounts.
In Italy, you will not find the traditional funeral parlours as depicted in “Six Feet Under”. The funeral parlour comes to you, so to speak. They decorate the doorways, and for a few days you get to contemplate the sands of time passing; along with the bonus of feeling like you’re going to either meet your maker or the Wizard of Oz each time you bring home your groceries.
Thankfully, people aren’t laid in state in the home anymore. There’s a nice little room right at the hospital for these sorts of activities. Very cold and uninviting, people congregate in the corridors as if waiting to give blood. I almost expected to get some cookies and juice after paying my last respects. Actually, I believe this is either seriously poor marketing, or a strong case for unusual efficiency.
Think about it: “Mamma, look on the bright side! If the operation doesn’t go so well, we’ll all be waiting for you just downstairs near the lobby!”
Funerals themselves are much the same as in the U.S., if they take place in big cities. But in little towns, everyone walks to the cemetery behind the hearse with singing choir people bringing up the tail. It may not be Six Feet Under, but, it sure can feel a lot like the Godfather Part II.