Mean and Surly

From Kingdom Come (2001)

If you’re easily offended, this will not be the post for you. As I’ve said before, sometimes my family gets accused of having a twisted sense of humor, and this will be one of those times.

My moms favorite movie (well, one of them) was Kingdom Come with Whoopi Goldberg, Loretta Devine, LL Cool J, and Jada Pinkett Smith. It’s an older movie about a family who comes together for the funeral of their father and all the drama that goes with it. I consider myself an expert on funerals at this point, and this movie is about one of the best portrayals of the complicated family dynamics.

My brother, sister, mom, and I have always been good with remembering movie scenes. Verbatim. Sometimes we can have entire conversations using movie quotes. Special points if you stump the other person because they don’t recognize which movie you quoted. It’s an ever-present source of frustration for my sister-in-law who never caught on. We have all watched Kingdom Come, together and separate, more times than I can count. Some of our favorites quotes from the movie are: “And next we’re getting rid of that prostrate, aren’t we Norville?!!” or “My husband done did it with that chiiilld in the Shopwell parking lot! Oh Lawd, take me now!” We use Kingdom Come references on a nearly daily basis.

Anyway, the guy who dies in the movie is described by his wife (played by Whoopi Goldberg) as “mean and surly.” So when there’s an argument about what should go on the headstone, she silences the room and says, “This is what I want on my husband’s headstone.” Then she hands a slip of paper, pictured above, over to her nephew to deliver to the funeral director. Later on, the funeral director tells Ray Bud (LL Cool J) to take a look at what mom has picked for the headstone, and he changes it to “Rest in Peace”, and tells his mom that since it was one letter different “we get a two dollar credit.” It was always one of our favorite parts of the movie. We have joked at almost every funeral we’ve been to since the movie came out that we would put that on the person’s headstone (sorry papaw!)

So today, my dad, siblings and I went to the cemetery to pick out my moms gravestone. The lady helping us says we get six words and my brother says, “mean and surly.” And my sister says, “yeah, we only need 3.” So I say “then we get a two dollar credit.” I’m pretty sure the poor lady had never seen the movie judging by the crickets we heard, but daddy laughed. We deal with horrible things through inappropriate humor and a deep-seated joy in the face of suffering that doesn’t make sense to people with a normal grief response.

Naturally when I got home, I watched the whole movie on my laptop. And then I cried because mom wasn’t here to watch it with me. But that’s ok. Being sad enough to cry about losing someone means you were blessed enough to have someone so precious that it hurts to lose them. I guarantee that as she watched us pick out her stone today, she held her breath to see if we really had the guts to inscribe the words or not. (We didn’t, in case you’re wondering. Even our sick sense of humor only goes so far. We went with “God got the glory from our story.” Our because the stone is also for my dad. And yes, it was uncomfortable planning his funeral while he’s still alive and listening to us make jokes. But that’s a trauma for another day).

If you’re looking for something to do while options are limited, watch mom’s favorite movie. It’s another thing that will bring you joy. At least watch this trailer. It has a lot of the best parts. Mom says you’re welcome.

3 thoughts on “Mean and Surly

  1. I miss her every day of my life, and still cry when I think of her. We lost someone too precious way too soon. I miss this humor with her. She was always the one person in my life who understood how twisted I can be, but I was blessed to have her. God is getting the glory for YOUR story too! I love you with all that is in me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So I’m reading part of your post to Natalie about the words on her marker and Natalie instantly starts quoting the movie Verbatim to what you had written. I’m not a movie guy at all so I didn’t catch the humor. Natalie just smacked me and said “Lord help me” as she walked away. I guess we’re watching a movie later. We are praying for you and your family.


    • Me and Nat watched that movie sooo many times! It was free on
      HBO for most of our adolescent years. She’s probably the only other person in the world who knows the movie as well as me, Tyler and Anna. 😂


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