A Funny Thing Happened on the Day Before My Grandmother's Funeral

Phyl CampbellStarred Page By Phyl Campbell, 27th Jun 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>True Stories

Funerals can be times of grief. And sometimes bad things happen on top of the obvious. You want to scream. But looking back, and even at odd times in the moment, you can see the humor and know it is OK to laugh, even while you cry.

Long History -- So You Understand the Humor Here...

Now, you have to understand some things about me and my family. My grandmother lived a full, long life. She buried two husbands, and after she buried the second one, she started talking in earnest about joining him. She didn’t want to move into town, but how lonely she was without him. She didn’t want to give up her privacy or change any of our lives – several adult grandkids offered to move in with her, but though she allowed the occasional week-long or the slightly more frequent weekend visits, those of us young enough to be cool also tended to wear her out. At least five Christmases were Grandma’s “last one, you know” – and although it’s plenty morbid to hear one’s grandmother talk about kicking it, after a while we just accepted that she was going to outlive all of us and kind of ignored the signs that she might not live forever.
And my grandmother has a crazy sense of humor. She died the day before her birthday – which we know was because she didn’t want to be another full year older than my grandfather. He was younger than she throughout their married life, and you would think that after 90, you’d just celebrate, but my grandmother was all age-secretive woman, in that fashion. And I learned from her. To this day I can’t correctly tell people how old I am – a woman would rather reveal her weight than her age, and we weren’t about to reveal either one. But I’m getting side-tracked just a bit.

Eternal Patience

I always thought that my grandmother would die while I was living hundreds of mile away in another state. And I guess I can be flattered that instead, she waited not only for me to move back home, but for me to have a few years settled into my new place. She even waited for me to get my bills paid down and my eyes fixed. She got to see my new car, the first I’d had since I was 17. That was an old lady with some patience.
I love my grandmother, as all my siblings and cousins do. But she was through being patient, and was due to have the last laugh on us.
So I mentioned moving back to my hometown, yes? That meant that instead of being 700 miles away, I was only about 100 miles away. So although I’d had dreams of not attending her funeral (see Red Roses Wilted), I was going to be there and make it for this one. But I hadn’t decided how much I was going to expose my young son to. My best friend died last year, and she was a mom to my son’s two friends. But then he hung out with her kids, he didn’t see the body and he didn’t attend the service. I knew with all my family involved, Grandma being THE MATRIARCH OF MATRIARCHS, the only way I was going to shield my son would be in keeping him home. I had decided to attend the funeral, but stay with my son in the back so we could escape if need be, and not to attend the visitation. In my family, this would usually be a social faux pas, but Grandma was looking out for me – in her way, of course.

Family Togetherness

So my mother and dad drove the 100 miles to stay at my grandmother’s, and asked me to stay at their place with my siblings (there were still three living at the house). It wasn’t that they couldn’t take care of themselves, we are all old enough, but the death really hadn’t hit us yet, and Mom knew it would be better if we had support if we needed it. I’m not much good for that, but my son’s a ready-made human-comfort object. So we went and we stayed. I hadn’t yet told Mother I wasn’t going to visitation, and in something lacking the characteristics of my mother, she hadn’t pressed the issue.
Now, being the oldest of those in the house, I wasn’t sleeping much. It wasn’t my home, there’s a rather large dog who thinks he is a lap dog roaming the house freely, and I wanted to be somewhat alert in the event one of my siblings needed me. The day of the visitation, my sisters were going to check my brother out of school and make the trip. They were taking the dog. I was going to be able to spend a night in my own bed. Or so I thought.
But a funny thing happened that night before Grandma’s funeral. When my sisters went to collect our brother from school, he was already in the nurse’s office – violently sick. The only place he was going was home and to bed – well, once he could leave a bathroom for more than five minutes. So my sisters brought him home, picked up the dog, and headed out. Since my brother was contagious, and I did not want my son to catch it, my husband assumed responsibility for our son and I was ready to enjoy a little R&R. I took a short nap, and woke hungry. Sadly, there was nothing in my parent’s house I felt like eating. So I called my husband and asked him to bring me something greasy from a drive-thru. I was ready to be all set. I’d had a short little nap. I was going to see my son briefly. I was going to eat french fries and some form of fried chicken. Maybe I’d even watch a movie on the cable. Since I couldn’t be home, I’d have the next best thing.

But Grandma was thinking faster than I was.

It was a cold night in January , and I didn’t close the door all the way because I couldn’t remember how it locked and whether or not it locked automatically if I’d have shut it behind me. I walked to the cab of my husband’s pick up, accepted the greasy drive-thru bag from my son with a hug and a kiss, and was stopped in my tracks when my son said “Mom, a skunk just went into the house!”
I had no idea my son was such a trickster. That was fast thinking, I told him. Ha Ha. A skunk in the house.
“No, Momma – look!”

A skunk in the house

There it was, tail in the air, walking through my mother’s living room like it owned the place. My husband tried to open the French Doors on the other side – being careful as not to get sprayed – of the house, hoping the skunk would just walk straight through from one side to the other. But the skunk decided it was cold outside in January, and my mother’s house would make the perfect warm cozy den to wait out the rest of winter. I ate my fries in the freezing outside while waiting to see if my husband would be successful. He wasn’t. I was no longer interested in the chicken – to the delight of my growing son. I walked back into my parent’s house to see if I could help –without getting sprayed.
First, I walked to my brother’s room. Waking him was a mistake, but I worried if I didn’t, he would wake up and open his door at the perfect WRONG time. I told him a skunk was in the house, and to keep his door closed until I gave the all-clear. In the time it took me to do that, my husband had opened up two more exit points for our skunk – the french doors immediately in the living room, and the garage door which led to the mudroom which led through the kitchen which led to the living room where the skunk was very cozy. The washer and dryer had been on in the mudroom, so when the french doors were open, the skunk went to the mud room and cuddled up next to the spinning clothes dryer.

Skunk Herding

My husband and I were able to herd the skunk into the mudroom, closing off the door to my parents’ bedroom and office, and the door to the kitchen and living room. At that point, I had my son come inside – it was too cold to stay out, as our smelly friend was proving. And we tried everything to get that skunk to leave the house. We banged on the door. We barked and made howling noises. We tried to look up skunk predators and imitate them. We played obnoxiously loud music. We screamed, and beat on the door with brooms – breaking two in the process (sorry, Mom). I made several calls to animal control/ pest riddance agencies, all of which were closed on a Friday night until Monday, but Monday was a holiday, so Tuesday. At one place, the operator was surprised by my outward calm over the experience of having a skunk in the house. I laughed, somewhat hysterically, and told her she had no idea but basically I didn't have any choice. Since neither she nor anyone else could send anyone out, we tried moth balls – which the skunk slept on; Critter Ridder – same result; and ammonia – which the skunk bathed in and then drank.
After repeated calls to the sheriff’s department, since I called there to ask for information on any animal control people who would work nights and weekends -- I would have paid a growing ridiculous amount -- but none of the numbers I was given worked, the department sent out a deputy, who, while getting no closer to the wild animal than we would, quote "I don't do skunks!" -- gave us the idea to put tuna fish on index cards that would eventually lead it out of the garage.
Then, I went online for help. What follows here is the Facebook account of what happened then (names have been changed). I don't believe the timestamps on the comments do justice to the frustration of the night, but have included them to show my sweet friends who stayed up with me until it was resolved -- even as I stepped away repeatedly in futile attempts to drive the skunk away.

Play by Play

Jan 18 9:17PM Me: OK... In what can only be described as "one for the record books," in the time it took for me to walk from the front door of my parent's house to the patio to get the dinner and meds that Sean brought me, a SKUNK slipped in the door and got in the house. If Josh hadn't seen it, I wouldn't have believed it. Now it is trapped in the laundry room, with openings out the garage and to "freedom," but despite all the noise Josh and I could make, it has curled up on my dad's coveralls and is taking a nap. Sean took pictures, which I will post later. I have had enough of today.
15 people like this.
Jan 18 9:27PM Me: People -- this is NOT a comment to like. Laugh your asses off at me all you want, but "LIKE"? Seriously?
Jan 18 9:29PM Robyn’s Egg: I'm laughing my ass off if that helps you. Honestly, this sounds like just the type of crazy thing that would happen to me!
Jan 18 9:30PM Me: Thanks? I am so pissed right now. So pissed.
Jan 18 9:32PM Nutty Squirrel: Your grandma must be laughing her butt off!!!! What a day.
Jan 18 9:34PM Me: That's what I'm saying, Nutty!!
Jan 18 9:34PM Robyn’s Egg: I don't blame you at all. Hope you can get it out of the house without any stinking issues!
Jan 18 9:35PM Georgia Peach: Wow, just Wow!
Jan 18 9:37PM Me: OK -- pictures (taken by hubby) are posted.
Jan 18 9:40PM Wild Oats: Animal control?
Jan 18 9:43PM Wild Oats: I hope your day doesn't turn out to be a stinker! (Okay, really, I hope you can extract the skunk without further ado.)
Jan 18 9:44PM Wild Oats: Oh, and I learned from Fetch! with Ruff Ruffman (PBS) that they can spray up to 15 feet. Look out!
Jan 18 9:45PM Me: we are...
Jan 18 9:46PM Striped Zebra: Call game and fish or at least Wash. County. Maybe they tranquilize and dispose him somewhere without a fuss.
Jan 18 10:41PM Me: Thanks Striped Zebra. I will try them!
Jan 18 10:42PM Lily of the Valley: Ok, THAT's a new one!
Jan 18 10:46PM Me: OK. No listing for Game and Fish or AR game and fish. County offices are closed. If it HAD sprayed, I might call 911, but I need a non-emergency #, I think.
Jan 18 10:56PM Laughing Brook: On the positive side maybe you could use this material for a book.
Jan 18 11:27PM Me: Someday, Laughing Brook, someday!!
Jan 18 11:54PM Twice Shy: Those pictures are hilarious!!! Unfortunately I can say been there, done that....except we got sprayed too...
Jan 19 12:01AM Me: Oh, Twice Shy -- I am so sorry you got sprayed! I think this one was slow because it was so cold -- you know, like snakes? And I also think someone upstairs knew we just could not handle ONE MORE THING!!
Jan 19 12:01AM Sister Sister: We always thought that if a skunk got in the house, it would be Jack 's fault because he 1) is a herding breed and 2) can open the door and refuses to shut it... However, he is with me and can't be blamed for this one. Kudos to Phyl Campbell and company for this one. ;p Damn skunk!!
Jan 19 12:55AM Beautiful Tiger: crazy skunk!
Jan 19 1:00AM Lily of the Valley: You can't say you didn't try!! Ha!
Jan 19 9:11AM Hidden Dragonness: I hear there are fewer skunks in AZ
Jan 19 11:44AM Warning Omen: I hear there are fewer skunks in AZ
Jan 19 1:45PM Friendly Face: why don't you run it away?
Jan 19 2:33PM Friendly Face: I don't know if I can run the skunk away?
Jan 19 2:40PM Friendly Face: I mean the phresal verb
Jan 19 2:41PM Friendly Face: phrasal
Jan 19 2:44PM Late 2 Party: Is it still there?!?!?!?!?!!!
Jan 19 6:26PM Me: The skunk did finally leave around 1:30AM Saturday. I posted in the other places, but I was so tired I must have forgotten about this one. Friendly Face, we tried to scare it away. If you were offering, thanks, but now it is gone and we are glad. Hidden Dragonness, I'm not sure about numbers, but we smelled skunks in AZ, too. So I think I have to accept them as part of nature. Sadly, Pepe le Peu is my favorite Looney Toon, but that is because he speaks French, is friendly, and I can't smell him.
Jan 20 1:29PM Hidden Dragonness: Pepe! Such a lover~ lol Yeah, I guess there's no getting away from them~ I sure hope you are regaining some sense of sanity~ Hang in there!!!

Your Comments

What’s the weirdest thing that’s ever happened to you before a funeral? Or Concerning a wild animal? Or both? Tell me about it in the comments section below, or write your own article about it!

Do you like funny stories about family life? Check these out:
About Towels
Dishwashing 101
Apple Spice Cake

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Animal Control, Bad Situation, Bereavement, Confusion, Depression, Illness, Laughing, Laughter, Sadness, Skunk

Meet the author

author avatar Phyl Campbell
I am "Author, Mother, Dreamer." I am also teacher, friend, Dr. Pepper addict, night-owl. Visit my website -- phylcampbell.com -- or the "Phyl Campbell Author Page" on Facebook.

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
28th Jun 2013 (#)

We never had one in the house, but have had skunks on the deck and in the barn, my wife has often gone out to chase them away - they spray if they are cornered, so never corner one - always let it "get away".

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author avatar philpalm
28th Jun 2013 (#)

So you posted this on a facebook like media and 15 people liked it? I suppose it is sort of funny in a cold sort of way....

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
28th Jun 2013 (#)

Philpalm -- YES! 15 people "liked" that a skunk got into the house! I couldn't believe it!! (Of course, I recognize that a lot of people click "like" just to say they've seen the message, or because it made them laugh.) Still!! ;)

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
28th Jun 2013 (#)

Mark -- we felt so lucky not to have been sprayed by this one! When our rational minds caught up to us, we wondered if the weather had it in a hibernating state, as -- other than it's quick trick into the door -- it moved very sluggishly and did stupid things like drinking ammonia. It was a crazy night, that much is certain! I hope your wife was never sprayed!!

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
28th Jun 2013 (#)

Funny to read Phyl, but I know when we are caught in the act it would feel there is no end. When it departed, we regain the world. An unforgettable day before the funeral! siva

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author avatar Penny W-T
28th Jun 2013 (#)

This is a really retrospective 'funny' incident Phyl, I sympathise with your problem. We don't have skunks here, but I believe that they are a real problem in some regions. Did you eventually get him out of the house though????

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author avatar Delicia Powers
28th Jun 2013 (#)

Phyl here in Maine we have Animal Control we can call to get a wild animal out of the house or other animal related emergencies...Great story- and somehow yes, life affirming- you can Phyl make us laugh through our tears.....

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
28th Jun 2013 (#)

Penny -- "The skunk did finally leave around 1:30AM Saturday," when it found the peanut butter and tuna fish trail and ate its way outside.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
28th Jun 2013 (#)

Thanks Siva and Delicia!

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author avatar Connie McKinney
28th Jun 2013 (#)

Great story, Phyl. It could always be worse. At least nobody got sprayed.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
28th Jun 2013 (#)

Connie, you are so right!! Thanks for creating the article about the wild animals where you are. I've been sitting on this one since January, but you motivated me to finish and publish it!! Now for the exercise one!! ;)

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