On Nov 8, 2005 my mother died from complications due to cancer, chemo, dialysis, and whatever other witchcraft the hospital claims happened that day. I had spoken to her the day before on my way to the Bahamas and she was fine but Tuesday night I got the call.
I couldn’t get a flight out ‘til that Friday so my Aunt Jackie did all the funeral stuff. What follows is the true account of my mother’s funeral and the priest who fucked it all up.
Father Clique Clique
I flew back on Friday and my comedy brother Spanky Brown picked me up from the airport. He asked me if I wanted to head home first or do whatever I needed. I needed a drink and some friends. That night was full of laughter, tears, drinks, sushi, and me hanging out with my very recent ex – Marcie. She was there for me and I will always love her for that.
I survived both the Friday and Saturday and even the visitations Sunday night. What I almost didn’t survive was the funeral.
Monday morning came around and there were people at my house I hadn’t seen since I was a child. Many of them were my mom’s friends and relatives I barely knew.
Let’s fast forward to the church.
Eric, my brotha and best friend since age 5 worked at the church at that time and helped my aunt with some of the arrangements. Spanky was there and many more of my friends were there so I knew I could be strong that day. My aunt needed me to be. And so it began. The family pew from left to right was my Uncle Joe, my Uncle Kevin, my Great Aunt Barbara Joe, my Aunt Jackie, and me. Spanky took to the pew directly across from me because I think it might have been his first time in a Catholic Church.
Did I mention technically I’m Catholic? Yes folks, there are black Catholics and even though I went to Catholic schools for 13 years and had 2 different bishops try to get me to into the priesthood, I’d never do such a thing. You silly little bastards are my flock.
While the pomp and circumstance of the funeral was starting my great aunt – who wasn’t Catholic – began her freak out moment. The music started and a very tall, very skinny, very black man in priest robes appeared. I didn’t know this man at all and I thought I knew all the priests in Memphis. Who was this guy and where was Father Carroll? My aunt leaned in and said “I asked for an African American priest.” What the hell. Why would it matter I thought. I gave her the look.
The look – later to be defined as the “Nigga please look” – consists of cocking your head lazily to one side while either saying or mouthing, or in my case that day thinking the words “really bitch, really”. Yeah, she got that look.
The priest I don’t know began to speak. “We are gathered here clique clique to pray for clique sister Jerri Clique Clique Edwards and help guide her clique into her final cliquing place.”
What’s happening I thought? Had the pressure been too much for me? I can’t have a stroke at mom’s funeral! I don’t think I taste pennies… How rude that would be?
He continues, “Holy, Holy Lord be clique with us clique….” I stopped listening and turned to look at Spanky Brown who in turn was already looking at me with his eyes wide open almost saying “nigga what have you gotten me into?” Then I heard another “clique” from the altar.
My great aunt starts crying and mumbling “I haven’t been to Catholic Mass in 40 years and I don’t know Latin “. Tears were streaming from her eyes when I said softly “Barbara Joe, that’s not Latin that nigga is clicking.”
I think that was the first time I ever heard laughter from a pew during a funeral. She smiled and whispered “thank you but…” I stopped her. “No – for real – he’s clicking”, I said.
Ok people, my Aunt Jackie did make all the arrangements for this and we already know for some ungodly reason she wanted an African American priest. Well guess what people? They were fresh out. What we did have in front of us was an African priest – or as I like to call him – Kenya’s slowest runner. I’m sure somewhere out there he was told “You aren’t clique fast enough to be a runner, go clique put on some shoes and become a priest.” Mean I know, but I have proof.
The rest of the hour long Mass was taken up by Father Clique Clique and a mixture of laughter and tears from people trying to translate what this man was saying.
Pall bearers included my friend Greg, Eric, my Uncle Joe, Spanky Brown, and me. As we slid the casket into the hearse and closed the door, Spanky and I looked directly at each other. The first words out of his mouth were “I got about 15 minutes of material from that”. “20 for me,” I said.
Yes, as a comedian I find funny everywhere but you must understand I was angry. My mother and I never got along but I didn’t want her funeral done wrong and I thought it had been.
I was pissed and I was going to let everyone in that family car know as soon as we got out of range of the mourners. I said a few words to some people who couldn’t attend the burial and got ready to let my aunt and everyone else know how pissed I was.
The limo’s back seats were taken by Jackie, Barbara Joe, and Uncle Joe. My Uncle Kevin was in the front seat and I was in the middle door. I jumped in and turned my head to start in on everyone.
“I’m very clique sorry for your clique loss clique…” And sitting next to me is Father Clique Clique, smiling his big white clicking teeth at me. I just stared at him for a minute then turned my head to the front as we drove off. The rocking began.
The drive to the burial took about 20 minutes, which was good, because any longer and I think I would have killed the now humming priest who was sitting next to me.
He was humming.
He was fucking humming ‘Don’t Worry Be Happy’ by Bobby McFerrin.
Really, bitch, really?
We are on the way to bury my mom and you think this is the song to hum.
I hope lions eat your family while hyenas shit in you father’s bed, I thought and smiled.
We got to the cemetery and I jumped out cause I needed a few minutes away from these people. Someone else took my place as a pallbearer while I walked with Eric and my friends Aimie and Matt. I took a seat towards the foot of the casket.
As Father Clique Clique began to speak, his cell phone rang.
He answered it.
That’s right people he answered his fucking cell phone in the middle of burying my mom.
I have to give him credit. He did try to get off, but this is what we heard. “Clique clique I cannot clique right now I’m in the middle of clique, seriously clique I have to clique you back. What? Nigga clique you tell her clique I’ll call you in a few cliques…”
This conversation went on for 5 fucking minutes. I was already way passed annoyed and I had to find the words I needed to say to show him how displeased I was.
In the most polite voice I could muster I said, “Unless that’s Jesus calling you to teach you to speak English properly, get the fuck off the damn phone.”
A small roar of laughter was heard from the crowd. Apparently it was not quite enough, but he heard me. He looked at me and finally ended his conversation with “I really have to clique call you clique a few, clique.” I’m still not sure if the last click was him or the flip phone closing.
If you’re Catholic or have been to a Catholic funeral you know burials are pretty easy. We say a few words, sprinkle some holy water on the casket, and we out.
Remember I said I had proof of him being a failed runner?
Well most priests carry a small glass vial of holy water for blessings. This mothafucka reached into his bag and brought out a 32 oz. green Gatorade squirt bottle that had the Gatorade logo scratched off.
And then he squirted it in the direction of the casket and hit me in the face.
I’ve survived 13 years of Catholic schools and never once had a priest blow one in my face. I wasn’t about to start then.
Eric put his hand on my shoulder – not to comfort me – but to keep me from tackling this clicking Kenyan. I didn’t do it. I wanted to. But I didn’t.
I remained calm.
We went back to my house where everyone planned to meet. I hung out on my front porch greeting friends and family while my uncles were around on the side of the house pouring out shots of Crown Royal. That’s where I found Spanky. I took a triple shot and went back inside to finally deal with my issues of the clicking priest.
The masses had been foolish enough to believe I was making a joke about him clicking, and many thought that it was a beautiful ceremony in both English and Latin. Eric walked in – and in front of everyone I yelled – “Eric these people think I’m trying to be funny and cute. Will you please tell them that he was not speaking Latin”? Eric laughed slightly thinking that I couldn’t be serious. When he realized I was he put his plate of food down and said in his serious work tone “I work at the church people. Let me tell you with 100 percent knowledge, that nigga was clickin’”.
None of the men in this photo are the actual father clique but I’m sure they know him.