MILWAUKEE -- Lifelong Packers fans understand.
Nothing much gets in the way of a game, and that includes death, or at least discretionary times for funeral observances.
With the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl, that goes double.
"Once they beat Philadelphia, we didn't know when the games were going to be scheduled," said Brent Perkins, a funeral director at Hartson Funeral Home in Hales Corners. "They were scheduling funerals and then rescheduling once the times were known. This Sunday, it would be highly unlikely anyone would schedule anything during the Super Bowl."
Throughout the season, funeral directors routinely make sure that families are aware of any potential conflict with the Packers. Most decide to schedule visitation and services either before or after a game, sometimes even on another day."This is not unusual for a Packers game," said Joe Becker, of the Becker-Ritter Funeral Home in Brookfield. "We are always looking at the Packers' schedule -- Super Bowl or not.
"People will say, 'Dad wouldn't want to interfere with the Packer game.' Or maybe they don't want to impose on people. Or maybe they may want to see the game, too," he said, with a laugh.
Other funeral directors agree.
"You want to have a funeral and have people show up," said Mark Krause with Krause Funeral Homes.
A bit of very human psychology may also be at work here. Just as families try not to schedule a funeral on an important day -- say, a child's birthday or Christmas -- some may not want Super Bowls to be associated with death, Krause said.
Even a Super Bowl without the Packers can be considered a conflict, said funeral director Greg Dittrich of Schmidt and Bartelt Funeral Homes.
"Generally every year, when the Super Bowl is on, people shy away from it," Dittrich said. "It's kind of like a little holiday. And definitely this year, I'm sure they'll shy away from it.
"Years ago, I did have a funeral on a Super Bowl Sunday," he said. "It was crowded for about two hours before the game and then it wasn't too well attended."
In Green Bay, of course, the answers are much the same.
"We were just talking about that, if we're going to watch the game," said funeral director Charlotte Gillis, answering the phone at the Blaney Funeral Home earlier this week. "There's nothing scheduled yet, but I would highly doubt if there will be. People will completely schedule around the game."
It doesn't have to even be football season for the "avid Packers fan" references to show up in paid death notices, especially in Green Bay. Milwaukee area fans are loyal, too.
"Dick was an avid Packers fan, and was at peace when he knew they'd beaten the Bears and were going to the Super Bowl," read a recent notice for Richard Scarvaci, 68, in the Journal Sentinel.
Some late fans also take it with them when they go, wearing Packers gear or being tucked into a casket with a Packers blanket. Some families opt for funeral flowers in Packers colors, Packers flags and game-day photo displays. Few actually order a casket in Packers green-and-gold, though that is available for the more, er, die-hard fans.
"We've had tailgate visitations already, where we served brats and beer," Krause said. "Families bring in Packers -- or Badgers -- memorabilia, and have the game on the TV during the visitation."
And while funeral directors expect that not much will be scheduled for game time Sunday, all emphasize that they will do whatever families want and remain on call around the clock.
That included arrangements for one Green Bay man, so not a Packers fan.
His family scheduled funeral arrangements to conflict with one of this season's playoff games. Friends showed up for the visitation, disappearing before the service -- and game -- time.
"The gentleman didn't like the Packers," said Gillis of the Blaney Funeral Home in Green Bay. "It made sense to have it this way for their father. Their father might have done it out of spite anyway."
That would be the exception.
"Our fans up here are really true fans, whether the team is winning or losing," she said. "It's a huge part of our culture here. People can't wait for any Packer game. Period."
'Til death do they part
A joke making the rounds on the Internet:
A female Packers fan had 50-yard-line tickets for the Super Bowl. As she sat down, a man came along and asked if anyone was sitting in the seat next to her.
"No," she said, "the seat is empty."
"This is incredible," said the man. "Who in their right mind would have a seat like this for the Super Bowl, the biggest sporting event in the world, and not use it?"
Somberly, the woman said, "Well, the seat actually belongs to me. I was supposed to come here with my husband, but he passed away. This is the first Packers game we have not been to together since we got married in 1967."
"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that, that's terrible," he said. "But couldn't you find someone else -- a friend or relative or even a neighbor to take the seat?"
"No," said the woman, shaking her head. "They're all at the funeral."No conflict here. Most funeral homes and families try not to schedule any funeral arrangements when the Packers play -- let alone when they're in the Super Bowl. Sometimes even the grieving want to see the game, too.