“The Reluctant Eulogist,” by Alexei Kalinchuk

Aug 31st, 2011 | By | Category: Fake Nonfiction, Prose

At the funeral, few spoke in honor of my uncle.  The shame!  After all the man had done for everyone present!  When all those tender spoken anecdotes added up to so little, such a mite in a man’s eye, I decided to liven up things in the dead man’s name.  Having died almost childless, half-friendless, a loner in a small town far from the bustling metropolis he’d been born into, the thought of him going into oblivion without a proper sendoff, haunted me.  So I stood up unsteadily.

“I have something to say.”

Others reacted to this to hide their own shame.

“No, you don’t.”

“Sit down.” 

“Not again.”

“No.” I insisted, pounding a fist into my palm, showing them that I would not yield the floor. “I really do.”

Relatives are blessings for their memories, or curses for the same reason.  But here their collective recall failed my uncle even as it slandered me.  I would remedy this. 

I wouldn’t let my slurred voice fail me in my eulogizing.  I started a story of my uncle, but two sentences in, I decided on another story, but I forgot that one and couldn’t remember the original tale I was going to tell, so I settled for mimicking him as a form of tribute.  It would have to do. 

I imitated his beak-forward walk, his pinched nose voice, his habit of smacking his lips in between words, and then I noted how he shopped End of the Season sales for his wardrobe.

After being shouted down by his ungrateful daughter and her family and all of my uncle’s friends, I sat back down.  Fine.  They won this time.  But I swore to pay homage to the man’s life in whatever bar we ended up at after the funeral.  They didn’t even have to join me if they didn’t want. 

Honor, after all, was the matter at stake.


Alexei Kalinchuk says, “I’ve been published in Amoskeag Journal and The Bitter Oleander, and am a well-regarded Master in the art of Ukrainian Massage.  I also have artwork online at dimezzoilmare.com.  Also, I’m a former Mouseketeer-one of the ones they arrested for wire fraud.”

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