Big Mama was something else. I tooled up to arrest her one time for smacking one of her offspring in the snout with a steam iron. That woman proceeded to whip my butt with a fly-swatter, a plastic Jesus, and a diaper bag.
Big Mama was the matriarch of what passed for a crime family in our neck of the woods. She was responsible for most of our crime, until she got too big, then she left it up to her family.
Anyhoo, I was on duty one day when the word came in: Big Mama had Passed On. We were in the middle of a Moment of Silence ("Thank God", murmured the Sheriff) when the ambulance crew requested help.
We had a problem. Hoo boy, did we have a problem. When I say Big Mama was big, I mean she overloaded the 300 pound weight limit on the stretcher by a good bit. We couldn't even get her off the bed. After a couple of hours, we worked out a plan: someone scooted over to the local monument company and borrowed their forklift and a spare pallet, the volunteer fire department got out the Jaws of Life and popped the exterior wall off of Big Mama's bedroom. Six of us rolled her onto the pallet, then we raised the pallet and put it (and Big Mama) onto the hosebed of a firetruck. Voila!
Off we go to the funeral home, where the Director (Bless his heart), had dug out a portable embalming outfit (I didn't even realize there was such a thing) and did the deed on Big Mama in the garage.
Which, in retrospect, was probably responsible for what happened later.
The day of the funeral arrived. I had to be there, because--true to form--four of Big Mama's nephews, cousins and grandkids were in jail on various charges. My handcuffed, shackled and leg-ironed charges and I showed up early, and let me tell you--I was impressed. Someone, somewhere had found a casket big enough, and Big Mama was laid out in her Sunday Finest with a peaceful smile on her face.
Which in and of itself was shocking. I had only ever seen Big Mama when she was fighting and cussing fit to make a sailor blush. Never saw her smile until she was gone. Looked downright odd.
Anyhoo, we're there early, and I'm listening to the gossip, which was all based on whether Big Mama's youngest daughter would show her face. Big Mama had, years earlier, attempted to rearrange her daughters' giblets with a set of pinking shears, and daughter had run off to California, vowing Never to Return.
Well, she came back. And that performance should have gotten her an Oscar, I'm here to tell you. But I'm ahead of myself.
Four, count 'em, four Baptist preachers got up behind the pulpit and lied their butts off about the Deceased. Three different people got up to sing muzak versions of pop songs. The Eulogy was a masterpiece--bore no more resemblance to the Dearly Departed than a toady-frog resembles a polecat--but it sounded nice.
Then, finally, it was almost over. The family rose up and walked past the casket in saying their Final Farewells (and stealing any jewelry left on the body), with the entire congregation looking on and sniffling. And last in line was Baby Daughter.
Like I said--a masterpiece. Baby Daughter had to be supported by two cousins in her time of grief. She was bravely fighting back tears, as she tenderly touched the frozen features of Big mama, then she'd turn to leave, and then wail: "Oh, Big Mama, why'd you leave us!?" And the two cousins would gently lead her away, but she'd turn back to the casket, and blubber, "But I can't leave her!"
Someone get that girl an Emmy Award.
Anyhoo, This went on for about five minutes, until finally, Baby Daughter flings herself across Big Mama and wails, "Come back, Big Mama, come back!"
And Big Mama did. Sort of. Well, actually, she kinda flopped a bit and made a 'song of the humpback whales' kind of noise, as a glowing green ball appeared over the casket.
I remember thinking: "Aha! So that's what an air bubble in a corpse looks like. I always thought that was an Urban Myth. Fascinating."
And then I noticed that I was the only person left in the church. Everyone else was sprinting down the hill.
With the Head Preacher and my four leg-ironed prisoners leading the pack, I might add. And the glowing green ball was the tritium insert in my front sight.
I also noticed, about that time, that I was in a Weaver stance that was so solid that it took me about five minutes to bust my knees loose enough to sneak down the aisle to make sure Big Mama was well-and-truly deceased.
(There are rumours floating about that I actually poked the Departed with stick during my examination. I deny these allegations. I couldn't find a stick. So I stood at the Amen Pew and tossed flower arrangements instead.)