23 December 2013

Dad gets his final wish...

A small note: If you haven’t lost someone close to you, this story may strike you as tasteless. If so, I apologize. For those of you who have been through it, I hope you can appreciate the morbid humor of the situation... Melinda

My mom passed away on Christmas Eve, 2007. 

On Dec. 26, 2007, my father, sister and I went to the cremation society to deal with my mother’s remains. The funeral director was straight out of central casting: dishwater-colored hair, pasty skin, wire-rim glasses, weak handshake, ill-fitting suit. He was trying to up-sell us on a fancy urn and my father piped up that a cardboard box would be just be fine. 

Absolutely appalled, my sister and I interrupted that our mother would most definitely not have her ashes placed in a cardboard box. We didn't need the deluxe urn, but we would be picking out a nice, pretty urn for her.

Our dad acceded to our wishes (and I really have to believe it was his grief talking), but added that when his time came he would be perfectly happy to have his ashes in a cardboard box....so maybe it wasn't the grief.

My sister and I looked at each other, then looked at dad and Carl and said, “Can we please deal with one dead parent at a time?” 

Flash forward to today, 12 days after my father’s death. In the intervening years, Dad and my sister had talked and instead of a cardboard box, he had decided that his ashes would go into an ice bucket that his groomsmen gave him when he married mom. It’s a beautiful silver bucket with the date of their wedding and the names of all the groomsmen inscribed on it. 

Today, I go to the Cremation Society to drop off the bucket so that Dad’s ashes can be put in it. The ice bucket will be inurned in a niche in a mausoleum beside mom’s urn. Jeannie and I had also picked out two small “memory urns” earlier, so we will have some of Dad’s ashes for us to scatter where we choose.

Ada, who has replaced Carl, takes the ice bucket but returns a few minutes later to tell me that there is too much of Dad to fit into the ice bucket and into the two urns.  I knew he was larger than life, but I guess he’s larger than death too. Perhaps not thinking it through, I ask if we have to take all of him, and she says that it’s the law and that we must. 

She then brings me the ice bucket, the two memory urns, and the rest of dad, evenly divided for my sister and me, in— wait for it— two cardboard boxes.

Somehow, even in death, he got his wish. My sister and I have been shaking our heads, laughing about it all day. You go, Dad. 

Today’s $10 goes to the Salvation Army. For several years, instead of buying each other Christmas presents, my parents would take the money they would have spent on each other and would make a donation to the Salvation Army. 

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