Yellow

J. L. Greger

Ed’s favorite color was yellow. Always was, but wow there was a lot of yellow at this funeral for his mother-in-law. Gladioli, lilies, and chrysanthemums. Either everyone had intentionally chosen yellow flowers, or the florists in this community had a limited selection. Probably the latter.

 

He had met his mother-in-law, Margaret, only once about two months before as she, his wife Judith, and Judith’s brother, Jim, had argued about the sale of Margaret’s house. Margaret looked better today. Her hair was combed, and her face wasn’t contorted with rage at her children.

He wished Judith hadn’t insisted on burying her mother in a yellow dress. The yellow seemed to emphasize Margaret’s sallow pallor. But, no one had asked his opinion. He wasn’t a real member of the family. He had married Judith three months earlier, and Judith seldom spoke about her childhood. He understood his role today.

 

Accordingly, he had dutifully stood next to Judith at the side of her mother’s open casket during the viewing. About twenty people shook his hand and sniffed, when Judith introduced him as “Number Three.” The rest of the attendees at the funeral had ignored him and only nodded at Judith as they gossiped with Jim and his wife. He wasn’t surprised because Jim was a city councilman, who was running for re-election. Jim appeared to think his mother’s funeral was a campaign opportunity, and he pumped the hands of everyone present.

 

Now everyone was seated. The minister started the service by saying, “Margaret was a loyal wife.”

 

Judith snorted.

 

“And a loving mother of a son and a daughter.”

 

Judith coughed as if she was choking. He patted her back and shoved his white handkerchief toward her.

 

“Margaret was a friend to many.”

 

Judith’s coughs turned into a caterwaul. People turned and stared. He wanted to appear to be an attentive husband, but he didn’t know what to do. He put his hand on her shoulder.

 

“She was always willing to listen to the problems of others.”

 

Judith was alternately panting and sobbing.

 

The minister continued to eulogize “this genteel woman.”

 

Judith pushed his hand off her shoulder, shoved Jim and his wife aside, and rushed down the aisle.

 

Ed looked around. After offering apologies to her brother, he followed his wife.

 

He squinted as he left the darkened chapel and looked around the scorching asphalt parking lot. Judith was screaming as she kicked the tires of their car. He ran to her and drew her close. She panted and beat his chest with her fist. He swallowed hard. “I’m so sorry about your mother. I didn’t realize the funeral would bring back so many fond memories.”

 

She knocked him away. “What fond memories? I don’t know the woman the minister was eulogizing. I wanted to shout: Lies, lies. The only good thing about this funeral was everything was yellow. She hated yellow, and everyone knew it.”