Monday, August 01, 2005

8/1/05

6:08 a.m. I am in Minnesota again. Home sweet home. Today I was supposed to restart a case I'd already worked a few weeks back. Unfortunately, a good family friend died unexpectedly and instead I will be going to a funeral.

I have somehow managed to avoid funerals ever since my grandfather passed away when I was 8-years-old. I remember Cuz and I playing outside of the funeral home under the umbrella of a huge pine tree. Cuz was the most adorable little blond cherub that ever there was. And she was the little sister I never had. My partner in crime. (And still is.)

It was shady and hot outside and the ground under the tree was blanketed with needles. We pretended we were forest rangers. We ended up covered in sap, having climbed the sticky branches in our best Sunday dresses. I remember trying in vain to get the bits of bark and dirt off my hands by rubbing them on my dress... in the grass. That didn't help. Now I just added grass to the mix.

When we went inside, Cuz and I stood before grandpa's casket, considering him. He looked like he was sleeping. His hair was combed over on his forehead all neat and silvery. I reached out to touch him and my father barked from across the room, "Polly!" I pulled my hand away and high-tailed it outside again with Cuz not far behind me.

I remember my brother, who was in the Army, flying in for the funeral. He was so handsome in his uniform. I remember my mother with tears in her eyes kissing grandpa's forehead before they closed the casket.

But that was a long time ago and attending the wake last night was definitely a foreign thing to me. Family and friends gathered. Chatting. Crying. The body of the deceased laid out in a far corner where people would occasionally approach, grim-faced. "He looks good." They would say. I don't think so, though I keep my opinion to myself. He looks dead. He looks caked in garish make-up meant to hide his pale, pale skin.

I watch as my neices and nephews run around irreverently. It makes me smile and remember Cuz and I back 20 years ago.

On the way home my parents and I discuss how we want our remains dealt with. Mom and dad are considering cremation. I tell them that's the cleanest, most efficient way to go. We all end up dust in the end, after all. I do not tell them that bone does not ever fully burn and that there is usually quite a bit that needs to be pulverized in a contraption that resembles a grist mill. I do not tell them that fillings, steel plates, screws from surgeries...all have to be sifted through and removed after the initial burn. I do not tell them that the cardboard casket that accompanied the body into the furnace constitutes a fair portion of the cremains.

Still, decomposition is a messy process and I would like to avoid it. I tell my parents I want to be mummified. My mother rolls her eyes.

Later this evening I will write about a mummy that we affectionately called, "Circus Boy" at the MEO.

34 comments:

Punky Brewster said...

Polly ... sorry to hear about your friend. ((HUG))

As for being back home ... Didn't a woman just get mauled by a bear in Minnesota? Near a beaver pond.

Guard your beaver, Polly. Oh and one last bit of advice ...
Walk lightly ... and carry a BIG stick.

Slyeyes said...

When my Grandpa died (the day the Challenger exploded, btw), it was discovered that he and Grandma "had" to get married. The real wedding date had been a secret for over 70 years. He kept it a secret even after Grandma had died 20 years before. We were going through papers before the funeral and found a marriage license that was dated six months before my oldest uncle's birthday.

I stood around the casket with the other 8 grandkids, thinking what life was going to be like without this man. Then my cousin Steve leaned over, punched him in the shoulder and exclaimed "You old coot!" That got the rest of us giggling; which was not appreciated by the older relatives.

Dave said...

Sorry to hear about your friend Polly.

Polly P.I. said...

As you may or may not be aware, Canada's national animal is the beaver, Punky.

They appreciate beavers up there.

That is why I like Canadians.

Brat said...

Polly .... {{Hug}}

Wake ... never been to one, but the idea of celebrating the life of the one you've lost always sounded good to me.

Arrangements ... My sweet wife has decided we should use the Will Maker software that came with our last 'puter purchase. So what does she want played as the last song at her funeral, when people are leaving? "You Can't Always Get What You Want" by the Rolling Stones. Snork. The look on people's faces would be priceless. She is so surprisingly funny sometimes.

Mummified - I was in Guanajuato, Mexico a few years ago, there is a combination of soil conditions, and the dry climate of the mountainous area that causes some bodies to dry out naturally before they can decompose. But getting shipped there and you family having to go all that way. Guess that's out.

Or maybe you could make a deal with a commercial dehydration company. Naw, C-Bol would start making dried fruit jokes.

Or just do it the old fashioned way, with all the wrappings and canopic chests and jars. That way you could have your crook and flail, all your jewelry and your not-a-crap-cam with you in the sarcophagus.

And, and, and, you could add a modern touch for your "visitors"...
As they approach, there could be a sensor that triggers a video on a wall screen ...
The sounds of a tomb door creaking open .....
music swells ....
Steve Martin appears singing "King Tut". Or should it be "Queen Polly"?

kitty said...

Here's a story of another funeral.
(Sorry. Couldn't resist.)

Leetie said...

I really don't like the whole open casket thing. I certainly don't want to be put on display in a crowded room when I'm dead. Sheesh.

My mom's casket was closed at her wake, but we had a fun collection of pictures of her scattered about the room... from pretty posed shots to her holding one of the large-mouthed bass that she caught at our lake house. The room was alive with chatter and laughter at fun memories. That's the was I want it for me.

Two of her dopey neighbors came up to me asking why the casket was closed... "is she deformed?" After staring at them with my mouth open for a moment, I just said "no, we just didn't think she'd appreciate people gawking at her, and we want people to remember her as she was alive." They looked disappointed.

Leetie said...

and -
My condolences, Polly.

Punky Brewster said...

*seriously contemplates moving herself and her beaver to Canada*

Now where shall I stay?

Ah! Anyone have Peri's address? :)

Tamara said...

Punky, shouldn't you first investigate the beaver population of Atlanta, before committing yourself to the beavers of the arctic tundra?

Brrr! Canada! Colllld!

Oooh! But, Atlaaanta! Warrrm, wettt, & stiiicky!

Thor said...

just to break the mood a little bit:
my mom always says she wants "ding, dong, the witch is dead" played at her funeral. either that or the hallelujah chorus.

insomniac said...

there's a company in Sweden that will compost your corpse...

here

Higgy said...

Punky - do you really want to move to the land of cold, chilly beavers? Because for 8 months of the year, that's what they're like up there...

Polly - ditto on the condolences for your friend. TCMH's mom wants to be cremated and a portion of her shot off in a firework - apparantly there's a company in CA that will do that for you. Thought that was a cool idea.

Myself? They can cut me up and plow me back in for all I care. I'll be dead. Funerals are for the living, not the dead. I want mine to be a big party. Booze, dancing and telling of dirty jokes.

Slyeyes said...

I like the way the do funerals in New Orleans, with a jazz band following the casket down the street to the cemetary.

A new mausoleum was built in our town. Two Sundays each month they have an open house.

That's just wrong.

cuz said...

2 funerals in 20+ years is pretty dang good.

I'm amazed at how much I remember from Grandpa's funeral. We have very similar memories, the tree, and the family kissing him good-bye. Do you remember the hymn we sang? Every time I hear it, it reminds me of Grandpa. It's weird how I was really sad that he was gone, but I was also really excited that you were there to play with. Kids. ;-)

Sorry to hear about your family friend.

Punky Brewster said...

*hops back onto Travelocity and changes airline tickets from Canada to Hotlanta*

Warm beavers are happy beavers.

Just sayin'

mad Scientist said...

Polly - sorry for the loss.

Both of my grandfathers had an open casket I was in third grade when the first one died and the open casket didn't really affect me. I was 17 when the second one went. I couldn't go watch them lower the casket into the ground after the viewing at the church. I agree open casket is just creepy. When my mom died I was 24 and she was cremated. As hard as it was to have that wake there was no way I would have been able to do it if she had been in a casket. Pictures of the living person you knew is so much better. Anyhow we put her ashes in a rosegarden at the church and it was nice because it was just my dad, sister and I. That was are final goodbye to her and it was better not being surrounded by so many others.

Oh and so as to not bring this place down

Booger!

Polly P.I. said...

Mad ((hugs))

I used to think it would be great to have my ashes spread around a sapling tree so that my family could come and visit me over the years and see how the tree had grown.

Then somebody mentioned that it might be traumatizing if the tree should DIE.

Olga said...

I'm sorry, Polly. You and your family are in my thoughts.

My favorite grandma (I know, it's bad to have faves) died on January 1, 2000. How's that for the start of a new millennium?
I was living in Montana at the time and had to fly to the Cities for her funeral. Unfortunately for me, I had to sing at her funeral, as were her wishes. It was impossible to sing and not cry. To this day, it's still hard for me to sing, "How Great Thou Art," her favorite song.

Tamara said...

"Bad to have faves"?! No way! Everybody's got their favorites!!

{{HUGS}} to everyone who's thinking about loved ones who have passed on.

I've never been to a funeral. Couldn't make it to my VERY VERY FAVORITE great-grandma's funeral about five years ago, and no one else in the family has died since/yet. But I think the memories are what matter, not the memorial. I have terrific memories of my great-grandma, living and being happy and wise and fun. *teary-eyed*

And now for something completely different...

P-dawg! You MAKE UP YOUR MIND!! ;)

punky "drama queen" brewster said...

My darling T$,

What more can I do? I switched my tickets ... gave up Canada - the land of beaver lovers - and even sold my best pair of Jimmy Choo's to fund the trip. Isn't that enough for you? Will anything I do EVER be enough for you! ( :-D )

P-dawg

punky "drama queen" brewster said...

My darling T$,

What more can I do? I switched my tickets ... gave up Canada - the land of beaver lovers - and even sold my best pair of Jimmy Choo's to fund the trip. Isn't that enough for you? Will anything I do EVER be enough for you! ( :-D )

P-dawg

punky "drama queen" brewster said...

My darling T$,

What more can I do? I switched my tickets ... gave up Canada - the land of beaver lovers - and even sold my best pair of Jimmy Choo's to fund the trip. Isn't that enough for you? Will anything I do EVER be enough for you! ( :-D )

P-dawg

punky "drama queen" brewster said...

My darling T$,

What more can I do? I switched my tickets ... gave up Canada - the land of beaver lovers - and even sold my best pair of Jimmy Choo's to fund the trip. Isn't that enough for you? Will anything I do EVER be enough for you! ( :-D )

P-dawg

punky "double click" brewster said...

he he ... oops.

sorry.

Punky "tequila" Brewster said...

er ... I think I meant "hee hee"

JD Rhoades said...

Sorry about your friend, Polly...

As for what happens to my mortal remains after I have rung down the curtain and joined the Choir Invisible, I have decided I want to be blown up. Donate any usable organs to science (and if my liver is still viable it will be a freakin' miracle), pack the space left with C4 and pull the lanyard.

Marvin | Paranoid Android said...

I also think you meant "quad click", too, punky.

Tamara said...

ROFL, Punky!!

Polly P.I. said...

Dusty,

Just make sure mourners are provided with umbrellas to deflect the "debris".

Also suggest that you have "It's Rainin' Men" playing in the background.

Now THAT'S a funeral that I'd pay money to attend...

mad Scientist said...

LMSO too funny polly

mike weasel said...

My condolences, Polly.

I like JD's idea. Maybe you could just lay my body across an Oregon highway, and let the Highway Department figure out what to do...

Jeff Meyerson said...

Sorry, Polly.

Jews don't have open caskets. I like that. Then again, they don't have cremations either and I am definitely going that way. If the family or whoever doesn't like it, call the complaint department.

Blogchik said...

My condolences, Polly.

When I die, I want to be buried, in the ground, in a cemetary with real upright stones and not those silly little placards that get covered over with grass easily.

Jeff, my religion doesn't hold with cremations either. Technically we're not supposed to embalm, either (which would call for earlier funerals), but realistically in America this doesn't happen. Just no cremations- not if you want a church funeral.