Situation Normal. Atmosphere Breathable. Brainstem Injected. Dialogue Engaged.
Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Don't Be Late, She's Decomposing

Well, I'm back.

I wasn't going to write about this experience, but my uncle encouraged me to do so with a choice Shakespeare quote. If I pegged it correctly. I've never been one for the classics. I'm sure this will get me in trouble, but I've always remembered to be honest and write without restraint, so here I go.

The hostess wears a black ribbon in her hair, whispers her words, and cranes her neck in practiced sympathy. All day long she quitely ushers mourning families into silent parlors and stands in the corner as the bereaved fill tissues with snot and tears. She witnesses as callow callous youths scoff at the framed quotes from greats such as Lincoln and Churchill hung in washrooms and grief lounges.

I'd hate working in a funeral home. My humor is disgustingly inappropriate for such a setting, and I'd be helpless before the endless barrage of morbid symbolism. Even the blackness of the courtesy coffee would set me off into aberrant giggling fits.

There's an off chance the decor was intentionally humorous. There was a small basket of books for children. Facing outwards was The Big Book Of Dinosaurs. Dinosaurs are extinct. Death. Clocks hung in every room, some modern, some antique. Time marches on. Death. A trio of old cameras were arranged on a shelf representing frozen moments gone by. Time marches on, again. Plastic flowers leaned from vases. Death? Oh, I get it. Preservation. A little mortuary humor. A pastoral wooden fence by Thomas Kincade hung in the entryway. How cheerful. I hate Kincade.

I can't say much about Grandma. She looked terrible, of course. During my private moment, I studied her. Her fingers were thick and swollen. Her lips were discreetly sewn shut. Her cheeks were sunken. I touched her arm and said goodbye. I'm not sure if there was stuffing in there, but feeling that spongey give underneath my fingers revolted me and I pulled my hand back, appalled.

I regained my composure and chose instead to spend a few moments with the two photographs. I memorized her smile. I walked away.

She was 92. She lived a good life. I was more upset watching my parents cry than I was hearing of her death. Still, I look forward to the funeral on Friday. I'll probably learn more about my grandmother than I have during my entire life.
8:37 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm


June 07, 2005 10:22 PM, Blogger You Can't Afford Me said...

i am sorry for your loss, though you seem to be handling it well.

June 07, 2005 10:59 PM, Blogger Lostinspace said...

Hmmm. Thank you for sharing about it in your very Steve way. I hope Friday goes the way that it should be. In the way that she will be remembered.

June 08, 2005 2:34 AM, Blogger Latigo Flint said...

That was pretty dern moving Sir. I felt for a moment calm when I read of you memorizing her smile.

June 08, 2005 8:05 AM, Blogger Other Brother said...

I'm waiting for the plot twist. Where the mortuary personnel are discovered to be smuggling trichobezoars and hiding them in the dead bodies....

In all seriousness, I'm sorry for your loss. She is in a better place...

June 08, 2005 8:05 AM, Blogger Kerouaced said...

I really liked the way you did that. It was sentimental but not sappy or overdone. You found a nice balance that expressed your feelings well. Sorry about your grandmother...

June 08, 2005 8:16 AM, Blogger Kerouaced said...

Steve, shoot me an E-mail. I want to tell you about two books on plot I read that have helped me when putting my books need to get some of this stuff published.

June 08, 2005 8:29 AM, Blogger Anonysis said...

What was the Shakespeare quote?

The whole death experience makes me sad, its hard when anyone dies. Worse when its someone you knew. Maybe this is just my way of coping, but I keep reminding myself that everyone gets a turn. The day you are born, you are destined to know happiness, sadness, question the world around you and one day you have to die too. I like to remember everyone gets a turn. Then I remember and repect how one person or another spent their turn at life. Thank them for the moments they made another's day or offered help. And I try to worry mostly for those of us who are coming to terms with the life experience.

June 08, 2005 9:46 AM, Blogger Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm said...

Thanks everybody. I appreciate your support.

Steve, I tagged your board.

Sis, I'm not exactly sure. I was a bit overwhelmed and furtive at the moment, since I didn't want to be overheard discussing comedy.

(that's what I told Richard I do here, which is true up to a point. I wanted to keep it simple)

I invited him here, so hopefully he can enlighten us and repeat it.

And thanks for telling me your coping method. You're right, death is a part of life, everybody gets one.

June 08, 2005 11:42 AM, Blogger Imogene_Pix said...


I agree it's hard to deal with the reactions of family members. I deal with my grief privately and cannot deal with public displays. My family on my father's side tends to be a bit maudlin about dealing with their grief in front of others. When my grandfather passed away at 92, they all were wailing and carrying on. It was so overbearingly dark... then my mother nudged me to look forward in the next pew towards the ground. My aunt (known for her thrifiness) still had the Meier and Frank price tag on the bottom of her shoe. My mother and I had to pinch each other to keep from bursting into laughter.

June 08, 2005 2:24 PM, Blogger Mishka said...

When my grandmother died a few years ago I traveled for two days to be at the funeral with my dad and my sister. It was a hard time. We knew it was coming in a while (old age and all) but you still always feel like there was one more thing you could have said.

We stayed in her empty house, which was weird and my aunt had us go through some things to see if we wanted anything. Both my sister and I took a bottle of her perfume (not to wear mind you, but just to smell).

I didn't cry much during the whole thing (my sister did though) and I guess I felt I needed to be strong. When I see something of hers in my house or see a picture of her, that is when I get a bit sad about the amount of time I missed with her (she lived several states away when I was growing up).

I am sorry for your loss but it sounds like she had a good life with lots of family and loved ones. Humor is a great way to deal with grief.

June 09, 2005 9:56 AM, Anonymous jamie said...

sorry for your loss.

my grandma passed two years ago, and that whole weird funeral home vibe is so true. the way you wrote about it was moving though.

June 09, 2005 11:25 AM, Blogger Stace said...

No book. I send my condolences and pray your family is doing well.


Post a Comment

left-arrow Home

Bad News
Lackluster Sanitation Science
I Eat With a Blender And A Funnel
Familus Horribilus
Robots Of Trichobezoar
Squirrels With Attitudes
Chorizo Abortion Spackle
My Worst Summer
Calcium Deposits
One Nun's Frustration
August 2002
September 2002
October 2002
November 2002
December 2002
January 2003
February 2003
March 2003
April 2003
May 2003
September 2003
October 2003
November 2003
December 2003
January 2004
February 2004
August 2004
December 2004
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005
April 2005
May 2005
June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
October 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
February 2008
May 2008
August 2008
March 2009
April 2009
May 2009
December 2009
February 2010
March 2010
April 2010
May 2010
August 2010
August 2011
September 2011
February 2012
June 2012
July 2012
August 2012
October 2012
November 2012
May 2013
August 2013
September 2013
December 2013
May 2014
October 2014
November 2014
December 2016