The Pyrex Burial -or- The Bear and The Pudding
A True Pine Arbor Funeral Story

*    A few years back--but not many, a young man decided to get married, the young lady's mother had agreed and a date was chosen; they selected my friend, that ol' Sakim, to officiate over the traditional nuptial rites.
*    The brother of this young man unfortunately died near the wedding date. In order that people wouldn't have to make two long trips-- one for a funeral and one for a wedding --the funeral was moved up a day and the wedding pushed back a day so they could occur at the same time. Naturally, that was Sakim's bright idea.  Both brothers had always been close and were always part of each other's lives.
*    The deceased brother was cremated--a family tradition and requirement because they were of the Bear clan. The ashes were in a sealed a nice brass container that looked suspiciously like a cookie cannister and placed at the opposite far end of the food table for this double wedding-funeral adventure. The container's contents were unknown to the guests at the time.
*    North Florida is home to a very large black bear population and such bears are no stranger to some rural communities. SO! It wasn't surprising nor unexpected that a bear would be in the neighborhood and decide to see what her kinsfolks, members of the Bear clan, were up to.
*    Out of the corner of their eyes, Sakim and the groom both saw the bear come from the woods' edge as the wedding ceremony was proceeding. Sakim, who had actually raised a couple of bears from cubs, chose not to alarm folks and thus continued with the wedding. A few others saw the bear, too and figured if "it was alright with Sakim, it was alright with them, too."  After all, his own father was Bear clan and both were proven "men of Power" in a spiritual sense. Besides, was it not a good omen to have a bear present at this important Bear clan event?
*    It was not a surprising to those learned in bear lore, but the bear went straight to the food table, started eating and generally messing up things. Soon, she gobled her way to the other end of the table and managed to get the lid off the container of ashes which she promptly spilled some onto the nearby banana pudding. Now this little bit of mischief really made Sakim cringe--real homemade banana pudding is his all-time favorite food group. That bear was surely in for a whipping. Some swear they heard Sakim mutter something about getting a willow switch. Anyway, when the little brass cannister was opened, the flying ash must have startled the bear or made her uncomfortable because she sneezed violently, turned and fled back into the woods. Sakim didn't miss a beat according to Mary Johns and the groom, Greg.
*    When the wedding portion was complete, Sakim called everyone to come and eat what was left of the intended feast. He admonished all present not to eat the banana pudding! Next came the funeral portion. In the funereal benedictions, Sakim concluded to the startled congregants, that it was good, and cost effective too, that people could be buried in pyrex or corning ware nowadays. With that remark, he promptly interred the banana pudding with the ash-urn!  After the burial, all purified themselves by washing with "Grave Medicine," making a tobacco offering and going about their business as if nothing unusual had ever happened. Family and friends enjoy repeating this tale. With Sakim in tow, you never know what will happen; you only know something WILL happen...!

illustrated by Tosh Bibb