Early that fall, Amy’s cousin JJ was leaving Bertie’s Hair Salon in Fox Point and decided to try the restroom at Schuyler’s Funeral Home next door. Bertie’s facility was cramped, there was a cat box under the sink, and the loo paper was rough pink squares of construction paper. Well, it felt like construction paper, and it lent a depressingly cheap air to the place. Schuyler’s restrooms were spacious and cheerful, there were clean serviettes on a low ceramic table, and despite the scent of candles and the hushed voices outside, it felt more like a country house than a chapel.
Out in the foyer, there was a pot of fresh coffee and a tray of small, star-shaped cookies. Men in dark suits and women in summer dresses looked at the floor and nodded to themselves. JJ signed the guest book and wrote, “My thoughts are with you,” then drew a small heart next to her name and address. The coffee wasn’t bad, though the cookies were too chewy and left a gummy taste in her mouth that lasted all the way to lunch downtown.
She was unprepared for the check that came in the mail a few days later. The deceased was a Portuguese merchant with three ex-wives and an alarming number of children, none of whom had lived up to his expectations. More to the point, none had been very attentive during his long decline and illness. And so, he had amended his will so that anyone who showed up at his funeral would get a check for ten thousand dollars. And anyone who didn’t could go to hell. Read More