Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Putting the Fun in Funeral?


First off let me say thank you to the countless people who have commented both here and Facebook to give their condolences.  It really has meant so much to the both of us.  

The Mr and I were in shock after the previous days.  We drove down the street to her favorite donut shop and got chocolate cream sticks in her honor and to eat our feelings.  We began the 'must do' lists of who to notify including social security, her retirement, etc.  At the beginning of the month, I had already put a freeze on her credit through all three credit agencies so we wouldn't have that to deal with as well since people are scum balls.  Just when I was starting to come down a little, I got a call from an agency about her organs.  Shit.  I forgot she was an organ donor.  I am telling you this because you need to know that in the hours after your loved ones' passing, you will be getting a phone call(s) from places wanting to harvest what they can and let me tell you, that sucks.  I'm not poo pooing the gifts of life or any of that...we have a family member saved by someone else's gift.  But you need to steady yourself for that call because they have a very small window in which to do that and you'll have to deal with it whether you want to or not.  Definitely not what I was prepared to be talking to some rando about who told me he needed to speed it up because 'he had a busy day ahead of him.'  You know what?  No then.  How's that free up your day, mofo?

Then we had a decision to make.  Sit and stare at each other ugly crying all day or get lunch.  There was a festival going on that we had tickets to from June.  I thought it felt tacky or disrespectful to go but there was nothing but down time ahead of us so we went with the permission to leave if it felt wrong once we got there.  It was surreal.  Here we were, surrounded by people yucking it up, stuffing themselves silly with carnival eats, screaming and enjoying life while we were in the 'post death bubble.'  We'd been there before with the Mr's dad and grandma.  That zombie like state where you want to scream at the top of your lungs "why are you having fun and living your lives??!?!  Don't you know what we're going through!?!"  We walked around aimlessly, wondering if we'd ever find anything that would be appealing and settled on brats.  As we sat at a picnic table, a woman who had the same leg issues mom had with the same walker started making a beeline for us.  I will never forget the look in her eyes like she had to get to me; like she knew me.  I scooted over and said "do you need to sit?" even though she had the other side of the table she could've sat at.  She sat next to me and over the loud speaker that was previously playing classic rock, on came Doris Day singing Que Sera Sera and that woman started belting it.  Did I mention mom sang that to me all the time as a kid/teenager?  When it was over, the lady stood up and left and I burst into tears.  Mom was with us.  She approved that we were at the festival enjoying life on such a sad day.

The next day we went to the funeral home and with mom passing, so went the POA authority so all of the funeral arrangements were up to me.   A place that I didn't have a great feeling on was chosen prior to her death because it was a little less expensive and the POA's in-laws had been there.  Don't make that mistake when your gut is telling you something.  I wish I had not been so worried about ruffling feathers.  The guy basically chucked some price lists at us, asked us a bunch of questions that I felt were irrelevant, didn't explain much of anything about anything from the service to urn options.  He wrote us up for the wrong type of service and had to redo paperwork.  Then had to redo it again when the Mr spotted we could view the cremation for a fee and there was no way in hell I was sending her from this Earth without me there.  It was 90 minutes that should've been 30 tops for what we got.  I had zero faith these people were going to do a good job on her to the point I told the Mr I would need him to look at her before seeing her because I was not going to traumatize myself.  It felt like two dudes got left their uncle's funeral home and quit their jobs in accounting and running the Home Depot tool rental counter to see if they could give funeral directing a go.  The date thrown out by her sib for the service was essentially 3 days later with no option to extend an extra day.  That meant the slide show (which was thankfully mostly built) and music, memory boards, eulogy and obituary all fell on me to get done in two full days.  Sure, no problem.  😳

It was a LOT of work.  Writing the perfect obituary that sums up someone's life that gave just enough detail but not so long people would zone out took way longer than I thought it would.  Once you see that obituary published- shit gets real and your heart is ripped to shreds.  But time for that!  Then there's a lot of getting people to upload pictures I wanted used for both the slideshow and memory boards that you have no control over them getting with it or getting the ones you want.  Then trying to guesstimate timelines for slideshows and memory boards based on weight and hair hoping that you put things in the right order.  Staying up until 2-3am every night working on memory boards and making sure enough people are hopefully included that no one goes home all butt hurt over it.  Throw in the funeral home having a dipshit snafu that we had to run on the other side of town to rectify and then it's time for the visitation and service.  That should go smoothly, right?  Sorry.  Nothing about this has been smooth or easy.  We arrive early, no one is ready and we're greeted with Mom's earring has broken so she'll just have one.  I made it clear I knew they had special glue they could use and FIX IT.  These schmucks certainly were not putting the fun in funeral.  The Mr knew from the trauma of seeing my grandpa look so horrible just over 20 years ago that if she looked bad, I wouldn't really look at her so he agreed to look at her first.  Remember, we'd both seen her looking quite peaceful and beautiful at the hospital so we had that image in our heads.  He came over and even with a mask on, his eyes told the tale.  I asked what and should I not look.  He said she didn't look like she did in the hospital, overly made up so use my judgment.  I took pics of the flowers and when I made my way to her, I glanced a bit, looked away and patted her shoulder and said I loved her.  I would not really be looking at her again after that.  They did a terrible job.  They filled in all of her weight loss in her neck and I said "oh, she's pissed."  So they over filled her neck and underfilled her hands.  They claimed the overuse from makeup was due to skin darkening but research has shown given our time frame with her to the time she was moved, that should not have occurred.  The Mr said her earring was fixed but I never checked because I had no interest in looking at that side.  I didn't need the open casket.  I only agreed to it for those who saw her over the last two weeks of her life and needed closure.  I regret it but it's done.  We sat with her slideshows playing so we could harden ourselves to the soundtrack which included Kenny Rogers, John Denver's version of Let It Be and a lighter one that included Isn't She Lovely and We Are Family by Sister Sledge.  After 45 minutes on loop, I was impenetrable.

Then you have to go into "emcee mode" and host this big shindig where you're required to hold it together and comfort others when I always thought that was supposed to be their job for you.  Most people try to be comforting and share memories that warm your heart and that does help.  Then you have people say some stupid things that make you want to rip your hair out but you have to grit your teeth and act like you don't want to smack them upside their big, fat heads.  I'll post about that next week.  I did a little memory book I put together along with a tea box full of her favorite tea for others to enjoy in a moment of reflection of her.  Beside that was Grandma's Butter Ball recipe if people wanted to enjoy the two together.  I saw my dad's mom for likely the last time whom I had to console.  Her high school friends, old co-workers, friends old and new and all saying about the same thing.  How they would miss her big smile and kind heart.  Us too as we were always a recipient of that kind heart.  While the first half dragged, the second half, with the Mr and I's peeps, went by quickly.  Then it was time for her sibling's eulogy followed by mine.  I'd practiced it several times and found myself crying at different points so who knew how it would go.  I pulled off the four page eulogy without a hitch.  I had disconnected from everything around me.  My only focus was inflection and making sure I made eye contact with different areas of the room like I remembered from AP English junior year.  So many people said I reminded them so much of her as I delivered it.  A wonderful compliment, indeed.  Then people filed out and it was time to divvy up the flowers.  I purposely didn't put 'in lieu of flowers' because Mom deserved all of the flowers.  I took the ones from my two besties, a rando pink rose bouquet I liked and a wind chime from my old kindergarten bus driver that will be an interim marker at her grave until her stone comes in.  

I was asked what the heck was going to happen to the casket spray and I said I would take them to Grandma's grave where she will be interred and they liked the idea.  As we all went our separate ways after loading our cars, I began a slow decompression.  I asked the Mr how he thought it went as it began to barely drizzle enough to call it rain because I was having an out of body experience and can't recall much of it.  He said he thought it went great, he was proud of me and that all of my work over the previous few days really brought everything together.  I said I wondered how mom felt.  If I was able to honor her and do her proud.  Just then, I spotted something out of the corner of my eye and got my answer:

I'd like to think Mom was shining her approval with Grandma giving a nod right behind her.  There was zero reason for me to be looking that direction and after I saw it, the drizzle stopped like it had never happened.  We dropped off the flowers at the cemetery and within 5 minutes, Grandma gave one of her usual signs so she was pleased with her new pretties.

I would love to say it's all over but it wasn't.  It was a long, stressful, bittersweet stretch of time where I didn't know if I was coming or going in addition to the loss and how fast it all happened.  I hope at minimum Mom thought I did right by her in the things I had control over.  

Every last bit of it seems not remotely real that she has been gone for just over a week and yet here we are...with more ahead of us.

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1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful sign from above ❤. I'm sure you did her proud
    Big hugs to you two as you navigate the new reality.
    Finally the images of my Mumsie are not filled with flashbacks of the sick Mama, only the healthy beautiful one.
    Sending you a messenger message


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