Renard Matthews, 18, of New Orleans, La., was robbed and shot to death on the evening of June 25 while walking his dog. Matthews, whom a neighbor described as “a nice young man,” loved football and basketball; his favorite athlete was Celtics guard Kyrie Irving, his mother, Temeka, told a local news station, WGNO. On Sunday, his wake presented a faithful reflection of his low-key lifestyle. The family had Matthews embalmed and placed in a stance that was typical for him. He was seated in a chair, wearing an Irving jersey and sunglasses, with a PlayStation controller in his hand, facing a television playing the Celtics. He was flanked by Doritos and soda.
The funeral home where the wake was held is accustomed to unique requests. “One time, we stood a deceased drummer from a grassroots band at a drum set,” a representative from the Charbonnet Labat Glapion Funeral Home in Tremé, tells Yahoo Lifestyle, adding that it recruits specialists to prepare bodies at varying costs, which differ depending on the details of the service.
The funeral home also hosted the 2014 wake of Miriam “Mae Mae” Burbank, 53, who was posed with a beer, a menthol cigarette, and an ashtray at a table. Burbank, a fan of the New Orleans Saints football team, had her fingernails painted in the team colors of black and gold.
Burbank was described by her loved ones as a “party girl” who loved beer and scotch. “When I walked in, I feel like I was in her house and I didn’t hurt so much,” her sister Sherline Burbank told WGNO. “Because it’s more of her, and it’s like she’s not dead. It’s not like a funeral home. It’s like she’s just in the room with us.”