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FUNERALS AND WAKES, PART 1

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In stories about death, funerals and wakes have a special place. Georges Newberry of Calumet Island heard this story from his old parents:

One day, people went to bury and old man, really old. There were two teams of horses which pulled as hard as they could just to get the hearse to the church. At the church, the six men who were to be the coffin-bearers could not lift the coffin from the hearse. It was too heavy. When the cure saw this, he went out to the hearse to sprinkle it with holy water. After a while, the bearers could lift the corpse, but only while the cure continued to sprinkle the coffin with holy water, walking backwards to the door of the church. Once at the door, the weight of the coffin returned to normal.

In the region of Fort Coulonge an old lady died and the carriage that carried her coffin to the cemetery got stuck in the mud. People were very surprised that the two big black horses that pulled the vehicle could not get it out of the mud. Someone suggested lifting the coffin out of the carriage, though that might not have helped much, since the old lady was quite frail and small. In any case, the men could not lift the coffin. It was too heavy. They had to get a man who had a large truck to pull the carriage out of the mire, but with great difficulty. As soon as the vehicle had arrived at the cemetery, however, the coffin assumed its normal weight.