This morning, right after the kids were all out the door, I was perched on the kitchen counter eating Greek yogurt when MOTH said, "What do you have going today?"
"I have to go pick up my dad," I said.
And he busted out laughing in gales of gut-wrenching giggles. He said it was the "thought" and they "way I had phrased it." This is what he usually says when he is laughing at unintended humor. Still, I ate my yogurt and continued thinking, "It's not that funny."
I've been trying to steer clear of the post-death posts. I've been trying to save those emotional pieces for private writings . . . . but I can't keep still about this one. Remember, I tend to medicate my hurt with humor.
So, here's somethin' that nobody tells you . . .
IT doesn't stop with physical death. Even as I'm writing this, I'm not certain what IT is. I just know that death of a body brought some relief, but not the 'end.' And IT also doesn't stop with a funeral. Or a memorial. By the way, I'm postponing Pop's memorial until July . . . . not to drag things out but because. Just because. I have lots of reasons. IT doesn't stop with anniversaries or memories or cards that come in the mail. IT goes on and on and on.
Today, I had a 10 o'clock meeting with my funeral director to pick up Pop's cremains. Okay. So, I went to the parlor. (Is it still a funeral parlor?) I checked in with a receptionist. I sat by the fire for a minute. I pocketed a mint for Middle. And I got called into my 'viewing room' where I signed paperwork and they had Pop, in his urn, or course waiting for me in a dimly lit room with flowers on a table and comfortable couches (I guess for large families who have more emotional outburst.) At any rate, I signed for Pop and the helper (See, what IS that title . . . a secretary? An assistant mortician? A mortuary aide?) I dont' know . . point is, he explained some things to me about paperwork and tags. Keep that. Keep this. Inside the box with be a magical ID tag; make sure you hang onto that, even if you scatter ashes. It should be kept with this magical identification number and certificate. Okay. He packaged Pop up into the mack-daddy of all green-bags and handed him to me. With the setting and the package, I kinda felt like I had won something. They "presented him to me" . . . much more than they "released his cremains." I took him to the car.
And I stood there looking at all the doors wondering . . . where do I put him?
The back? It felt kind of wrong and hearse-like and sort of disrespectful. So I put him in the front seat with me. But that felt kind of funny, too, like I might be distracted and be an unsafe driver. I bet folks that work inside the parlor watch people picking up cremains and trying to get them in the car and chuckle inside. It might be kind of like trying to watch people pick up a quarter that is super glued to the sidewalk. In the end, I tried a couple combinations before I ended up with this:
All through this thing, I've keep hearing my mom's voice in my head saying, "do what feels right". So, yes, I buckled him in. I didn't want him to spill . . . or for the fancy upgraded engraved urn to topple over and crack. I snapped a picture mostly to make my husband chuckle. And it worked. He captioned it and called me back to make sure I was okay.
And another funny thing . . . . after I picked him up and buckled him in, I went to Costco and I carried on quite a conversation with a box of ashes. All the way there. In living form, I would not have hesitated to say, "Hey, Pop, I'm gonna run in quick . . you wanna wait in the car?" So you know it . . . . I said to the mack-daddy green bag, "I'll be back, you can wait here." And as I was tromping across the parking lot, it occurred to me how silly that must have sounded. Of course you will wait here. Cause I can't take you with me shopping for toilet paper and a new vacuum. Imagine, what a sight if someone happened to think, "Hey, I've been contemplating buying a suburban . . wonder what they look like inside . . . hey, here's a silver one . . let's look in the window . . oh . . . my . . . God."
Anyway . . .
. . . . that's my story today, and I'm stickin' to it.