Thursday, December 12, 2013

Leave it to the Brit

Bristish PM David Cameron, Danish PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt,
U.S. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama
Spurred on by Michelle Obama's stern visage, the net abounds with extemporizing on the moral impropriety of the Obama, Cameron, Schmidt smiling "selfie" at Nelson's Mandela's memorial service. I am reminded of experiences growing up.

The funniest guy I grew up with was Bill "Mel" Simkins.  His humor was dry and wry. He caddied at Glen View Club where he commonly had all of us at the caddie shack literally doubled over in laughter. Mel lived upstairs at Meyer (now Simkins) Funeral Home in Morton Grove, Illinois, where his dad was owner and undertaker. At the funeral home, Bill Sr. one time took my father aside into the next room when my dad showed up for a viewing. He pulled a tape measure out, and said "George, we need to measure you -- right now, you are not looking too well, very pale." Old man Simkins was looking to get a good fit. It took my dad several minutes to put on a straight face before he could enter the viewing parlor. Bill Jr. is proprietor now, and I bet he's got that tape measure handy.

Another time we were at the viewing of a distant relative, old guy who was pushing 90 when he died and my dad was smiling and joking with one of his pals. My Aunt Margaret rolled up the little memorial program and whacked him from behind. My dad looked back, smiled and kept it up, toning down the volume just a bit.

While Obama and Schmidt have yet to be heard on the topic, Conservative Party British PM David Cameron has spoken out.
David Cameron has joked about posing for a "selfie" photograph at Nelson Mandela's memorial service. 
The prime minister, US president Barack Obama and Danish leader Helle Thorning-Schmidt huddled together for the snap. 
Asked about it at PM's questions, he joked that Mr Mandela had "brought people" together in life. 
"So when a member of the Kinnock family (Denmark's PM is the former UK Labour leader's daughter-in-law) asked me... I thought it only polite to say yes."
Parliament broke out in laughter.

There are always two ways to look at a funeral, one as an opportunity to grieve and show respect (Aunt Margaret's view) or second as a chance to be joyful for a life well lived (my dad's view). Frankly, when I pass on, I hope people have a good laugh or two, and a joke at my expense. It would be a great way to fade into the sunset.


  1. I am surprised you don't know this. It was late February 1999, when George was watching a Bulls game and complaining about how badly the Bulls stunk without Jordan. He collapsed and Evelyn called the Mount Prospect paramedics. When they got there, he demanded to drive himself to the hospital but again lapsed. He was taken to Northwest Community Hospital where he was put in critical (but not intensive care).. There in front of the assemblage of nurses and doctors, he turned to Evelyn and said, "Honey. I am going to die. It is time to get a new boy friend."

  2. The funniest guy I knew growing up was George Foster. He was not only funny, but he had a genius for working with different groups of people and not only getting them to like him but to work together. And yet he still retained his core values. In that sense, he was truly a remarkable man. .