Some Fambly memories

Many people here have lost loved ones in the past few months.
It's made me think again of the series of funerals for parents, assorted aunts, and in-laws over the years.
There are old sadnesses there too, of course, but a few other memories too.

I helped care for my Aunt Margaret in her last years, and I had to arrange for her burial.
She and her husband had bought adjoining plots in a small, lovely cemetery in the Marin county hills, and after several years of increasingly ill-health she joined him there at last.
Tom and I were getting the paperwork done, and the representative of the place was giving us the tour, doing his full line of patter at us, and took us out to see the grave site.
It was a very pretty place, lying in a meadow surrounded by wooded hills.

The whole place was lovely and quiet, and there were hawks floating in the air above us.
The guy was yammering on about their regulations for flowers and all, kind of running on automatic.
The point was, I think, that they only allowed real flowers, not plastic.
But Tom and I had been doing days of arrangements, and were just hearing the quiet around us: the green and the wildlife.
I think he noticed we weren't quite paying attention, and I realized I had to say something back at him.
So I said we were just admiring the hawks, and they were lovely.
And, it turned out, he hadn't really been paying that much attention to us either, because he responded:

Yes, they come down at night to feed.

He hadn't quite heard me, and assumed I was talking about the deer.
They don't allow plastic flowers, because the deer come down at night and browse through the grounds.
It did add a certain macabre air to the whole proceedings.


At Tom's dad's funeral, his mother's sister Anita, was having a grand time.
(Everything was always about her, you know.)
Never mind that Tom had lost his father, her sister had been widowed.
The day is obviously about Anita.

And Tom is already rather miserable about how things are being arranged.
Anita had interred her husband, not in a grave, but in a little file drawer thingy, a crypt.
And she talked her sister into getting them for her and Tom's dad.
So we had just finished watching Tom's dad filed away in the little drawer thing, inside the smelly, creepy dead people's storage with all the fake flowers.
–instead of being buried next to grandmama, and Tom's kid sister who drowned  when she was 18.
But Anita had her way, so Tom's dad and mom are both in here:

After the service, Anita insisted on following the guy with the forklift and standing around while they edged the coffin into the little space.
I really don't think they mean for the public to be standing there watching them bang the thing around and get it in.
But there we are, and it's taking forever, but finally they are done.
So the fun is over, right?

Anita has already paid for her own little file drawer over near her husband's slot.
And she can't remember where it is.
So the nice workmen call in and look up Uncle Walter's location for her,  and walk her over to it.
But she didn't want to visit Walter, she wants to check out her own crypt.
And she can't find it.
She's pitching a serious fit at this point.
So the nice patient workmen call the office, and they find her crypt number for her, and it's right on the top row where she wanted it.
(Closer to heaven? Further away from the devil — more of a concern, I'd think.)
So there it is.

But it doesn't have her name on it yet.

So she's literally screaming at these poor men about how come her name isn't on her gravestone.
I sooooo couldn't even look at Tom, since I knew we were both thinking:

Fine, let's just get your name on that sucker, and shove you in it now.

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15 responses to this post.

  1. Unbelievable.


  2. Oh, man. Families. And doesn't death just bring out the "best" in some people?I had a cousin who climbed into her mother's open casket in church, screaming and waving a whiskey bottle. She hit the minister/priest.whatever in the hand with it when he tried to pull her out – he needed stitches. At graveside she tried to jump in. She hated her mother something fierce and was feeling a little pissy about the will.But those "feeding hawks vs deer" — wowee – talk abour an eerie thing to hear!!! Thanks for posting this – it put a lot of stuff into perspective, you know? I'm glad i read it.


  3. First- Hugz to you and Tom…When we buried my younger brother and grandma, it was pretty out of the ordinary for us. It was the first time we had anyone cremated. We didn't have a choice. No policy on either one. They allowed my sister-in-law and I to lower my brothers urn. The grave was only about 3 ft deep. I've never been to a burial (mausoleum?) I thought those were cremations.
    My SIL and mother haven't been very nice. Instead of understanding each others lose, they seem to be competing for sympathy and throwing blame. I don't like it 😦


  4. Oy. just Oy.
    "Under the wide and starry sky, dig the grave and let me lie…"
    My uncle was interred (somehow "buried" doesn't seem to describe it) in one of those above ground places. I think, in his case, it was called a "columbarium". Not my style.
    When I die, whenever that might be, I will be buried in the country cemetery half a mile from the farm where I grew up.


  5. These are good stories, lauo.A bit o' macabre humor in the first one…..I love that one, actually! And…a "well, families, what can ya do?" shrug for the second one! Man o man, I woulda had a hard time not shoving lovely SIL into her crypt then and there, too. What a BEEyotch!!!


  6. A little giggle for the term "file drawer", too!I want to be cremated and sprinkled EVERywhere! I told my kids, take me everywhere and just let me blow around!


  7. Life has a way of just moving on in unannounced, doesn't it? It's both disconcerting and stabilizing, that when our worlds are shaken up, everything else has its own order to abide. I find that strangely comforting.About the crypt-y thing–they have those especially in areas where the water-table is high because they can't dig holes. My grandma in Louisiana is buried in one.


  8. I'm suddenly hearing the Ramones singing "I Wanna Be Cremated"
    I wanna be recycled. Take all the body parts that can be taken for transplant, then go ahead and feed the rest to the carrion birds. Birds gotta eat.


  9. I'm with Laurie. I'm ALL for cremation.


  10. Funerals omg I have horror tales. I want to burn and blow away. We had bad Mississippi flood several years back. Coffins were floating out to sea.Families go into some kind of grieving process and everyone is different. Wailing is really awful. Too me. Gads and it is Halloween. The Harvest Moon is Friday the 26th.


  11. lauo, what experiences… I'm not sure what to say except "D'OH!" for droning cemetery guy and SMAK! for overly-sensitive Anita.I'm going for cremation for sure. I don't want to take up any more space than necessary. I don't think I want anyone carrying me around in a locket but I guess it won't matter to me, will it?At my grandfather's funeral (such as it was), my aunt made us all line up around the casket for a group photo with Grandpa because "He looks SO good!"Yep. I'm the normal one.


  12. Families! Sheesh…I've told my family that I want to be cremated (and they can toss my cinders in the trash, for all I care), but mother won't hear of it. She seems to think my body has to be there for the funeral. All I have to do is outlive her…which isn't as easy as it sounds. She'll be 76 in December and she has a half sister living who is ten years older and another who is 20 years older. And still going relatively strong.


  13. Hey. Because funerals aren't bad enough–it's always nice when someone can pitch in and make them worse.


  14. I had the same reaction from MY mother at first. Her exact words—"Why can't you just go in the ground like the rest of us?!" Now she wants to be cremated, too.


  15. omg…lol at the last part. ay, yi, yi.
    I would rather be cremated atfter my usable organs are donated if possible. It's better for the environment.


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