Somehow, I felt like I needed to pay my last respects, so I went to Bob’s funeral last Wednesday in Price Hill.
I can’t exactly remember how we met, probably through a friend of a friend, but it was in the early 1990s. Throughout the years, we always stayed in touch, but I would often ask myself why.
The casket looked expensive. That surprised me. Bob had plenty of money, but he was never one to spend it. He told me once that he had his funeral already planned. I guess he wanted a fancy box to be buried in.
There were flowers at the funeral, too. When my mother died he sent me a sympathy card — an e-mail sympathy card — and that was it. Bob would never fork over money for flowers at anyone’s passing. In his words, “The dead were dead.” They wouldn’t know anything about a kind gesture, so what would be the point?
Bob was always looking for bargains. Only a couple weeks before he died, he called me excited about finding milk on sale at Kroger. Five gallons of milk were approaching expiration date. According to Bob, milk stays good long after the date stated on the plastic container and he bought all those gallons of 2 percent milk at a “steal.”
Looking around at the funeral, there weren’t many people there. I was a bit shocked to see Bob’s brother Joe, who lives in Westwood like me. Bob hadn’t talked to his brother in years because Joe never paid back the 20 bucks he had borrowed some decades earlier. Probably realizing the error of his ways, Joe made up for this mistake by buying some flowers for the funeral.
While waiting for the service to begin, “Bob memories” filled my head. I remembered he once came to visit and noticed some very ripe bananas in the fruit bowl in my kitchen.
They were starting to turn black.
Bob asked if he could have the almost rotten bananas, said he would go home and make some banana nut bread. Feeling a bit bewildered by this request, I said the bananas were his. He seemed thrilled.
As the organ music started to play, I remembered how proud Bob was about a joke he pulled on a butcher years ago at the Kroger in Price Hill.
In the meat department, Bob had his eye on a pot roast but thought the price on it was too expensive. The butcher saw him looking at the roast, approached Bob and asked him if he needed help.
Bob told the butcher he wanted to buy the pot roast, but with having four small children to care for he simply couldn’t afford it. The butcher, feeling sorry for him, gave him the pot roast.
Of course, Bob wasn’t married and had no kids, but he got a kick out of fooling that kind-hearted Kroger butcher and getting that hunk of meat for free.
The preacher got up to read a few words from the Bible, but I wasn’t listening. My mind was on the last phone conversation I had with Bob. It was only last week.
Bob was busy. The milk he had purchased at Kroger was going to turn bad soon, but he had a solution on how to use it up.
Bob told me months ago that he found a bargain on some Jell-O chocolate pudding mix. The price was so low that he bought an entire case. The plan was to use up that milk going bad by making batches and batches of chocolate pudding. Waste not, want not.
After the reading from the Bible, some more organ music was played. Looking around me, I couldn’t help but notice that there wasn’t a lot of emotion in the room. I saw Bob’s brother looking at his watch.
When the music was finished, the preacher had a few nice things to say about Bob. The preacher even talked about Bob’s thriftiness and what a good thing it was. I almost found myself wanting to laugh but managed not to.
When the preacher was done praising Bob to high heaven, he asked those of us in attendance if we had any kind things to share about the dearly departed.
None of us spoke, but I did have a question. I wanted to know if the rumor was true that Bob was found dead with his head facedown in a massive bowl of chocolate pudding, but I figured asking this at his funeral service wasn’t the time or the place.
More organ music played, then the preacher asked us to lower our heads in prayer. As the preacher got all holy again, I thought if Bob would have just spent some of his damn money to go see a doctor, he would have found out he was diabetic. He shouldn’t have been eating all that damn chocolate pudding. Because of it, he went into a diabetic coma and died.
When the service was over, I shook a few hands and left.
Waiting at the bus stop, I started to wonder if an autopsy was done on Bob. I wondered how much chocolate pudding was found in his stomach.
Poor old Bob. The official cause of death was complications from diabetes. I think the real cause of death was complications from being too freakin’ cheap.
CONTACT LARRY GROSS: firstname.lastname@example.org