My father died on a Thursday; we had the funeral on a Sunday, and he was buried on a Monday. My mother died on a Tuesday, and our first inclination was to have the funeral on the following Saturday. But, instead of working on the obituary or the program on that day, we sat around telling Trudy stories. I think, in some way, we died my father’s death the way he would have wanted his death to be handled, quickly and efficiently; it also helped that we knew my father wad going to die at least the day beforehand. Whereas mom’s death took us, and indeeed her long-time doctor, by surprise; her heart was still strong, even after the stroke, and we were having conversations about placing her in some medical facility after she got out of the hospital the very morning she died.
Once Saturday was off the table, we considered Sunday, but it was Super Bowl Sunday, on which my mother’s mother died; I remember getting the call during the 3rd quarter of the game in 1983. Besides, it was just different. My dad was the hare, my mother, the tortoise, and we all know that slow and steady win the race.
So, it was a Tuesday funeral, which had an enormous number of people outside of the family wanting to speak, and a Wednesday burial at the Salisbury National Cemetery in Salisbury, NC, about 40 miles from Charlotte, Section 8, Plot 358, next to my father. I read a few passages from the Proverbs reading my eldest niece read the day before, then sang a little, then I, then my sisters in turn, shoveled some dirt on her cremains, then we sang some more. Then we went to Waffle House, which was one of my father’s favorite places. I believe I had only been to that grave site once since his burial there.
One of the traditions in the South, at least in my parents’ circle, is for people to come over, often bringing various food items, usually homemade. And by “come over”, I don’t mean that they call and ask, “Would this be a good time to come over?” I mean that they just show up. I became aware of this tradition ten and a half years ago; can’t say that I’ve gotten USED to it. But it was (mostly) nice.
The week before my mother died, I had nothing on any credit cards, save for any recurring expenditures, such as the newspaper. Can’t say THAT right now. The next bill will be a whopper; it will include:
*The funeral parlor. When my father died, the same funeral parlor accepted the promise of payment from his insurance; not so this time. So it went on my credit card. I’ll get reimbursed eventually. But it was the least amount of money we could spend, which would have pleased my mother, $840.
*The obit. I totally miscalculated how much it was going to cost: $472.75. I’ll probably eat half of that.
*The niece’s last-minute plane ride from California. Somewhere north of $600, which I hope to get back eventually.
*The hotel. Once my wife and daughter arrived, the house would have been too crowded with my sisters, my nieces and a family friend. Five nights, $330; not bad actually.
*Miscellaneous stuff, including a meal after our bizarre visit with the funeral home – was she high, merely incompetent, or uncaring because we weren’t spending enough? She couldn’t even spell Charlotte, and at one point, my sister threw her out of our meeting.
This doesn’t even count the train tickets or the rental car, which are on my WIFE’S credit card. BTW, 3 days out on Amtrak is a better rate than 2 days out, which is WAY better than one day out.
I had access to the home computer, but I didn’t have one of my own. My wife actually brought the daughter’s laptop, but it was uncharged, and she forgot the plug, so it didn’t work.
Of course, I had to focus on the funeral stuff, and managed to write four blog posts in the 12 days I was down there. Viva the blogger’s reserve, which I was trying to create for our vacation this fall. C’est la vie.
The hotel had one (count’em, ONE) computer in the “business center”, which was often occupied. Once I was on it – at 2:48 a.m. – and some young woman came down and said, “This is the ONLY computer here? I have to do my homework!” I ceded it to her at 3 a.m. after I’d spent an hour on it. BTW, it needs a new keyboard; the a, c, e, m, and n were unreadable.
The house printer didn’t work. The hotel printer was quirky, at best.
I used my cellphone more in that two week period than I had in all the previous two years.
One Twitter tweet, one Facebook post. Just no time for it.
The train ride back from Charlotte to Albany last Friday.