the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

The Funeral

Today was my father’s funeral.  The last two days were very emotional and I still find it too difficult to write about it.

As the limo took us home, I said:

"The rabbi had it easy.  He said such beautiful things about a genuinely beautiful person.  What does the rabbi do if the guy is a real jerk?"

Sophia said this reminded her of a joke:

A  famous Jewish mobster dies, a man well-known as an embezzler, a crook — someone who loved scamming old retired Florida ladies out of their savings. 

The mobster’s brother, himself a mobster, asks the local rabbi to do the service.

"I’ll pay you ten thousand dollars if you say something nice about my brother."

The rabbi is a serious, religious man.

"I really can’t do that.  Your brother was a crook."

"Listen, rabbi.  I’ll give you a hundred thousand if you say something nice about my brother."

"I’m sorry.   A rabbi can’t lie."

"OK, here’s my final deal.  I’ll give you a quarter of a million dollars to say something nice about my brother."

The rabbi thinks about all the repairs that need to be done to the temple roof and the new Sunday school that he’s been dreaming about.   He agrees to the offer.

On the day of the funeral, the rabbi steps up to the podium and says:

"This man was a crook, a liar, a thief and a terrible human being.  But compared to his brother, he was a saint."

We all laughed and felt a little better.  My father would have loved this joke. 


  1. ms. sizzle

    That IS a good joke. 🙂 My familiy found it comical when the limo arrived to take us all to my father’s funeral and it pulled out of our driveway and promptly broke down. We had a laugh thinking that it was my dad pulling one of his jokes on us. And for a moment our laughter softened our sorrow.

    Neil, I am very sorry for your sudden loss. There really aren’t any right words to say what is in my heart. . .But I have been thinking of you and holding good thoughts. And if I could, I would give you a great big hug.

    Please take good care of you,

  2. Anne

    Neil, I’m so very sorry. I hope you’re holding up OK. Look after yourself, OK?

  3. bella

    Humor in hidden places. Cherish those moments, Neil. They are worth it.

  4. E

    I gift you with poetry:

    Do Not Stand At My Grave and Weep

    Do not stand at my grave and weep,
    I am not there, I do not sleep.
    I am a thousand winds that blow,
    I am the softly falling snow.
    I am the gentle showers of rain,
    I am the fields of ripening grain.
    I am in the morning hush,
    I am in the graceful rush
    Of beautiful birds in circling flight.
    I am the starshine of the night.
    I am in the flowers that bloom,
    I am in a quiet room.
    I am in the birds that sing,
    I am in each lovely thing.
    Do not stand at my grave and cry,
    I am not there — I do not die.

    Mary Elizabeth Fyre

    I am so sorry for your loss, but he’s not lost to you. (((hug)))

  5. Brooke

    Neil, I am so sorry for your loss. But how lucky for you to have had such a man in your life. I envy people who have had kind, loving, wonderful fathers. And it’s clear that the apple did not fall far from the tree. I’m sure he was very proud of you.

    You will have memories that will make you smile for the rest of your life. Right now that won’t make you feel better, but someday it will.

    Sophia, you are awesome.

  6. Leesa

    So sorry for your huge loss, Neil. We should all be so lucky to have had a father like yours. And the memories to cherish.

  7. jamy

    Neil–I’m thinking of you and hope your family is doing okay. It’s such a relief to find humor at those sad moments. That’s how we make it. Take good care. And thank you for sharing your memories of your father.

  8. Modigli

    Neil ~ You and your whole family have never been far from my thoughts this whole week. And you continue to be in my thoughts and prayers. Thank you for sharing this personal part of your life on your blog. I hope you know we all love you and your sweet family out here in the blogosphere, and I hope all of our support and thoughts help you to feel like you’re getting a big huge virtual hug!

  9. Bill

    Strangely, one of the best get-togethers I ever attended was my father’s wake. The funeral, not so much, but the wake was so filled with laughing it turned into a wonderful time. I think this was at least in part due to the fact my father had been ill a very long time, and his passing came as a kind of relief.

    It was also because everyone there had a story, usually several, about my father and so the whole thing turned into an impromptu celebration. Oddly, it was a very Irish kind of wake, which is my mother’s side of the family, not my father’s. But the Murphy’s on my mother’s side take over every social gathering.

    Anyway, it’s now one of my best memories. Who’d have thought?

    Please take care. And thanks for the joke (thanks Sophia). My father would have loved it too. (And would have told it to everyone he met, a million times over.)

  10. Jodi

    I just grinned stupidly over that joke. I think that’s the only way I know how to grin.

    Your dad sounds like my kind of guy. I’m sending him huge hug-vibrations to wherever his energy is residing now.

    Enormous hugs to you, too, Neil. And your family and the beautiful and amazing Sophie.

  11. TWM

    My condolences to you and your entire family, Neil. You are, of course, in my thoughts and prayers.

  12. Josia

    Condolences … time to get to work on the next generation you two!

  13. BotanicalGirl

    Neil, I’m so sorry to hear about your father. I’m glad you got to say goodbye and find out how much his co-workers loved him. Don’t try to force yourself, either to grieve or to be strong. Just let yourself feel and remember as the moments pass.

  14. straightlaced

    I’m sort of new to this blog (and all blogs in general), but I just wanted to say how sorry I am to hear of your fathers passing. He sounded like a really fine person, Woody Allen glasses and all. I hope you can take some of his good qualities, and incorporate them into your life, for that is one of the best ways to perpetuate one’s memory of someone. If you don’t sit shiva, please take the time to go through the mourning process, as it is both painful and healing at the same time. May your father’s memory be a blessing for all, and may he watch over you and your family.

  15. M.A.

    Neil, I too am sorry for your loss. I owe you a song, don’t I? Take care.

  16. Edgy Mama

    Thinking of you.

    Humor can be balm.

    Big kisses to you and Sophia.

  17. Atomic Bombshell

    I’m glad you’re making each other laugh and remembering your father’s laughter, too.

  18. Mik


    Just got from the UK and hear your father passed away.

    Sorry to hear that, prayers and condolences to you and your family.


  19. Jay

    I’m sorry for your loss, but if you can find even a tiny bit to smile about right now, it’s because your father is still with you in many ways.

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