Saturday, April 12, 2008
I woke up this morning hung over and sunburned. Usually it would be the morning after a good day at JazzFest but this time I got sunburned at a funeral. But not just any funeral. G and I attended the send off for Dr. Ashley Morris. It was spectacular. I wasn’t a close personal friend of the Dr. but I got to know him well this week though all the heart felt remembrances on everyone’s blogs. His friends tucked things into his casket for the journey to the other side: a bottle of Jameson, a muffalata, Mardi Gras beads among other things. Ashley looked peaceful in his Saints jersey. The visitation was more a cocktail party, without the cocktails. In the chapel, it was quiet and somber as the casket was brought it. The laugher started soon enough as the minister discovered his notes missing. The tributes were full of love and laughter. Ray was the only one who went by his notes, but he is forgiven for writing such a marvelous tribute and has posted it on his blog.
Everyone proceeded to St. Louis #3. The Hot 8 Brass Band headed up the second line, playing dirges, leading us from the front of the cemetery back to the mausoleum. The BERG strapped on their skates for the procession - it couldn’t have been easy for them to roll that slowly. Thunderstorms had been predicted for the afternoon, but it was clear, sunny and breezy. I brought my umbrella for the potential rain, but ended up using it anyway for shade and to twirl during the upbeat second line from the mausoleum, back to the front gates. The Hot 8 played about 5-6 songs and everyone danced and visited. Someone broke out Abitas and people started donning the commemorative 00 t-shirts. I looked over at one point, and Hana was holding someone’s T-P comics umbrella, sipping on an Abita. My heart goes out to her and her kids, losing their husband and father so young and suddenly. A group of stunned tourist looked on, mouths open. I was hanging back and a tour guide walked up me to tentatively and asked if he could ask me a question. He of course was curious about the funeral. I told him what I knew about Ashley and how he was a big Saints fan, which was why a lot of us were wearing Saints shirts. He commented “I see roller derby girls and guys in Chalmette Reeboks?!” He said he brings tours to the cemetery all the time but that his group today was being treated to something extra special. Indeed.
Afterwards, many people headed over to the Bulldog, which is where the hangover started. God I love New Orleans. And I love all the crazy people who live here. I’m so grateful that I could be a part of such a wonderful celebration.
Oyster has a list of remembrances and there are some wonderful photos here and even video of the Hot 8. If you haven’t already, please donate to help Ashley’s family with expenses.