“Funeral Fresh Flowers” read the sign on the plate glass window of a florist shop, and I did a doubletake. Funeral fresh? What on earth does “funeral fresh” mean?
I saw that sign in 1994 when we moved to Florence, Alabama, and have wondered about it ever since. I can stretch and twist the words, but I never get a sense of what meaning was intended. Fresh flowers for funerals? Flowers that will be fresh only through the funeral—so maybe sold at a discount? Funerals signify an ending, a closing, and fresh means new, alive, young. A contradiction? or a statement? One story closes but the flowers look to a new beginning? Where? For the deceased? And who gets so philosophical when they buy flowers for a graveside?
The phrase remains a mystery, but it is one that has stayed in my head all these years.
I think of it now as I write this blog about southern funerals, of the little quirks, the mysteries, the words or food or people who don’t fit into what is expected, and thus the story is born. So until I figure out “funeral fresh,” or a reader offers an explanation that fits, “funeral fresh” will be the theme of the blog. That which raises questions, plays with one’s mind, and hangs around to reappear from time to time.
I’ll choose some flowers to illustrate today. May be others or something else entirely different next time. I invite your thoughts as to what suits “funeral fresh.”