If there was one thing that Mike Patterson really hated to have to write, it was a eulogy. When he subtracted the required sentiments about the departed going to a better place or being at peace or whatever, the equation that presented itself required knowing something about the deceased. It was bad enough when Grandpa Jim passed away seven years ago; the shameful fact that presented itself back then was that he was too busy being a smart-assed kid playing at being The Great Canadian Author to pay the poor old fellow much attention.
That being said, he'd wished that being a woefully inadequate eulogist was the low point of the man's memorial service. Were the damage limited to his spouting airy platitudes in a failed attempt to disguise a discreditable ignorance, the poor man would have had a peaceful send-off. His parents had other plans. To be blunt, the same stubborn, ignorant and ill-used woman who Mom lifted not one finger to help when her father was alive transformed from "secular saint who knew what she was doing" to "incompetent fool who they never should have trusted" as soon as the EMTs loaded the poor old fellow's remains into the ambulance.
The only good thing that came out of their creeping on April because she defended poor old Iris (who passed on not too soon after Jim) was that it helped speed him and Liz towards something resembling actual sanity. Quite simply, they were expected to agree with a proposition whose stupidity should have been so obvious as to make Mom and Dad wake up and smell their own failure.
As bad as that experience was, as revolted with himself as he was, his current predicament was far worse. He knew his parents far too well. Take, as a for instance, the timing of their demise. Logically, his suspicion that they died on purpose so they wouldn't be forced to praise April for getting her dream job at the Stampede was (as Aunt Phyllis would have said) a load of old cobblers. Emotionally, on the other hand, he had a hard time believing that it wasn't deliberate.
Ah, well. Time for the lessons learned phase. This, of course, left Mike with the question of what people could learn from two awful people who thought the world owed'em a living because they never clued in as to how great their lives were.
Since people tend not to want to see someone stomp on the floor and yell "Hot enough for you, Mom and Dad?!" at memorial services, this meant that he'd have to speak in code. Take, for instance, Dad's sullen refusal to admit that he could be wrong about anything. In funeral-speak, "being a stubborn old goat who feared the 'humiliation' of admitting error" became "having firm opinions" and being "a man of conviction". Also, "self-absorbed jackhole who never found a zinger at his family's expense he didn't like" was best stated as "while not a demonstrative man, those he loved knew he loved them."
Similarly, Mom's inability to feel pleasure meant having hidden depths and a wistful comment about finding the peace that eluded her in life. Those who knew her knew that she'd chased away that peace because it wasn't good enough for her also knew enough not to speak ill of the dead. Said tendency to let the dead rest was responsible for making "imbecile who pissed her life away doing what no one actually expected of her" into "woman of tragically unfulfilled promise."
Not, of course, that he really liked the idea of lying. Would that people lived in the world of Orson Scott Card's "Enderverse"; if a Speaker For The Dead could be enlisted, people might actually have learned something from his parents that wasn't "some people miss everything and die angry".