When I’m gone (another 30 good years please), I hope my spirit gets to hover about in this world for about a week. Just until after the memorial service is over and the house is cleaned out.
I think I’ll skip the service, although I do want the kids to have one. Not for me obviously, remember I’m going to skip it. But because I believe a funeral is good for those left behind. You need to cry. You need music and words that will drag the tears out of you in what seems like a stream that will never end. It does though – that’s part of what the funeral is good for. Play “Isn’t it Nice to Be Home Again” by James Taylor and have one of the grands or great-grands sing “Here I Am Lord”. Yes I know you’ve just started being able to sing it again after your dad’s death 46 years ago, but you’ll be old by then – you can handle it.
No, I’ll wait here at the house until you come back, shedding your church clothes and taking the foil off the food people have brought in. There will be chicken and jello salads and cookies. Funeral meals should always have cookies. Don’t worry, the church ladies will take care of it.
What I really want to be around for is the dividing of the junk. You know those movies where people are fighting over the treasures and arguing over who mom gave what to? Yeah, that won’t be us. It will be more like this:
The stepdaughter and her husband have gone out to the backyard to look at the boat, four-wheelers and trailer. Since the wooden slats of the boat have sproinged out in every direction and its motor is on the ground, and since the four-wheelers and trailer are full of yellow-jackets nests and snakes there’s probably no hope, but you never know.
The daughter sits behind this very computer monitor wondering how in God’s name it still runs. From time to time she mutters “Mother! ” and “For heavens’ sake”. She turns to ask her husband, who is reading a paperback copy of “Calvin and Hobbes: The Days are Just Packed”, “How in the world can this computer still be running? And how can she have this many icons ON THE DESKTOP?” He smiles at her and points to one that says “Passwords”. They both shake their heads.
From the backyard we hear the grandson ask his dad “Dad how did she keep this stuff so green? Haven’t we been on stage 6 watering for the last 20 years?” and his father tell him about how, even though she was ninety, Grandmother carried her bathwater out a coffee cup at a time to water her beloved sedum and the 100-year-old ponytail plant that she once rescued off a street corner in Waco.
The grands and great grands will wander around the dusty house looking at the memoirs she collected of forgotten women. The four pieces of “good” jewelry will have been given away long before, and what is left is giggled over by the little girls in the family who take some for play. The littlest children will dare each other to go in the closet where the ventriloquist figures are kept. One of the older ones says “They’ve should have buried them with her”, which causes many shocked and terrorized screams.
In the end it will all be divided, given away, thrown away, hauled away. The clocks, the old prints, the cameras. After much arguing it will have been decided who will take which of the dogs because the pound is not an option. No, not at all. Mother would haunt us.
Yes. I want to be around for that.