What I did on my vacation

One of the things hospice and the comfort service impressed upon me during our discussions was the need for funeral arrangements. This did not come as a surprise, but it’s one of those things mom and I never got around to. We did talked about it, but we never actually made the arrangements.

While I was on vacation between Christmas and New Year’s Day, I decided it had to be done ASAP. I went to the same funeral home we used for my dad and Dan.


ales-krivec-623972-unsplashPhoto by Ales Krivec on Unsplash

Mom has a pre-paid plot next to dad, so finding a spot wasn’t an issue. Mom wants to be cremated and have some of Dan’s ashes added to hers. Mom wants to be sprinkled at various places she loved and enjoyed as a teen or we enjoyed as a family. So it’s all pretty straight forward, right? HA!

I sat down with the director who’s been there for years. He very subtlety asked questions about Dan. He thought there was something about Dan dying, but wasn’t certain, so he hedged around it a bit. Sweet man. 

Our conversation ranged from their old building (I worked in an office there when it was bought by the university) to Dan to my dad and then to mom.

There were questions for the obituary (paid directly to the local paper, not the funeral home), a discussion about putting an obit in her hometown paper (also paid directly to that paper, not the funeral home) and a discussion about a graveside service. Did I want a “viewing?”

The final decisions were based on what mom would want and with the understanding that funerals are for the living. 

I made the decisions of no obits. My friends and family will know. Mom’s friends are all gone. A death announcement is sufficient.

There will be no viewing. That is something she does not want. Once again, it would be for my very small family and we can get together in one apartment at any time to remember mom.

The memorial park where mom has a plot charges $900 just to open the grave. If mom and dad were going to be buried in the same space, they would charge another $1400 for second use, plus $900 to open the grave — all paid directly to the memorial park, not to the funeral home. Since mom doesn’t want her ashes buried anyway, no graveside service. Her name will be added to the marker alongside dad’s — another item already paid for when dad died.

So, mom cremated; her ashes mixed with Dan; I sprinkle the ashes — all for the low, low price of $3600. Not so bad when they’ll let me spread payments over six months. Now all I have to do is find another $600/month laying around.

I have no complaints about the funeral home or the charges. No one tried to talk me into anything and they are great at handling families in the position of dealing with the imminent demise of a loved one or whose loved one has passed.

It’s just … well, Yikes! I don’t have much cash in savings. My checking account is for monthly use. To me, this is a fortune.

This, my dears, is the reason to have life insurance that doesn’t drop you at age 85.

There was one humorous note during the meeting. I was telling the director about watching a Ghost Hunters a few years back. A young girl had lost her mother and was now living with her aunt. They had the mother’s cremains set in a little shrine in the girl’s room. Suddenly, they started having paranormal activity. One of the Hunters said that often happens around cremains. I looked to where I have Dan and I said, “Stay!” I could hear Dan in my head, laughing and laughing. The director said, “Just because it happens in your head, doesn’t mean it isn’t real.” I replied, “Thank you, Professor Dumbledore!” Yessir, I got the reference.

And neither he nor Dumbledore is wrong. 

Musical earwigs and my thought process

Musical earwigs — those songs that gets stuck in my head and I can’t get it out.

For the past several months, I’ve been waking up with a song running through my head. The same song will be on an endless loop for several days, then another moves in. Once in a while I get a break and two or three songs will share the rotation, but mostly it’s that one song repeating.

Most recently the playlist has been oldies: “Requiem for the Masses,” “Cherry Hill Park,” MacArthur Park,” and “Happy Together.” I will accept anything by The Beatles or Michael Buble. “Sway” was on a loop there for a while. Michael can lead to Frank or Tony or Mel and they can lead to Edith and Billie.

Sometimes I know why a song gets stuck. Watching the first two Harry Potter movies will immediately lead to “MacArthur Park” sung by Richard Harris. That leads to “Requiem for the Masses” sung by The Association. Why? Because Jimmy Webb’s song was first offered to and turned down by The Association, then offered to and accepted by Richard Harris — before he accepted the role of Dumbledore, of course.

When a band member dies as in the case of Levon Helm of The Band — that can start the process. For the next several days “Virgil Cain is the name” and “I pulled in to Nazareth” loop-de-looped.

The times I find particularly trying are the loops that lead to loops. For instance, “Requiem for the Masses” made me think of El Cordobes and “Or I’ll Dress You In Mourning

… a very hot man in his day …!

Thinking of El Cordobes makes “Requiem for the Masses” hammer through my brain. And I go “up and down and around and ’round” … so now Jim Croce is running through my brain. Ugh!

What you missed by leaving early

Dear Dan,

I’ve been watching movies and thinking about the bits you would have loved. Then I started thinking about other things you missed in other areas.

Here are some tings you missed by leaving early:
I think you would have loved the Obama campaign — primary through election. Some of the things that have happened since — stalling and dragging of feet by the opposing Party —  would have made you as crazy as it’s making me, but I know you would love this man’s grace under pressure.

Monsters vs. Aliens — The president playing “Axel F” from Beverly Hills Cop. Steven Colbert as the president, Link, Dr. Cockroach and B.O.B would have had you rolling on the floor.

Avatar — You would have been in love with the visuals as much as I.

Alice — Another film and 3-D you would have flipped over. The rumor about HP – Deathly Hallows 3-D would have you pondering.

Ahmadinejad’s trip to Columbia and his statement. ‘Nough said.

I think you would be proud of mom and me, dealing with some of the things we’ve dealt with since you’ve been gone. I think you would be happy with how we’ve handled the apartment.

You would be very excited about Mac technology — including the iPad.

And e-books. We would have had some good discussions about the technology.

I think you would be pleased to see the photos of the technique I was talking to you about — the way we can possibly blend our crafts and talents.

You left the party too soon, my brother. Way too soon.

I love you, Danno.

Harry Potter

Dear Dan,

I am waiting for the new Harry Potter movie and of course thinking of you. The very last conversation I had with you was about Order of the Phoenix. As usual we were describing scenes to each other again. You had seen it the weekend before, as had I. We talked about the scene in the Hall of Prophecies. I described it to you as “my IKEA nighmare.” You knew exactly what I was talking about.

That was also the weekend my copy of “Deathly Hallows” arrived. I took that Monday off so I could read the book and work on a shower gift for a woman in the office. We talked about the book a little.

After your death, I received your phone. Brian had shipped it to me along with some other items. I read through your text messages. I’m not sure who you were talking to about “Deathly Hallow” but you asked about the lines at the store and if Harry lived.

He did … you did not. And you knew at the time that you would not.

I love you and miss you more and more every day. This just isn’t getting any easier.

Peace and as always, I love you, bro.

I Can’t Wait!!!

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince   Looks like this is going to be cool but I have to wait until July. Damn WB!

I saw “Australia” last Saturday. It was good. All the aboriginals were magnificent! Very well cast! Hugh Jackman was brilliant AND droolworthy.  I’m not a big Nicole Kidman fan. She’s a very adequate craftsman but not a brilliant actress. However, she kept her British accent amidst the Aussies. That’s very difficult considering she’s originally an Aussie.

Continuity left much to be desired.