Husband came home last night and once again I tipped the bottle as he walked in the door. Over a glass of wine and my preparing a pot of soup, I told him about a conversation I had with the cemetery representative an hour earlier. He always listens, but this time he said, “I’ll be glad when I can come home and there won’t be any drama.”
What? No drama? How boring. But I understood his sentiments. Since we started dating more than seven years ago there has been continual drama around taking care of mom on one level or another. Now that she has been gone a year, he understandably has expectations that we could live our lives, at least without mom drama.
Sorry, honey. Not yet.
Okay, so we finally set the date to bury mom’s ashes; see Oops, Wrong Month. I emailed the cemetery representative to tell her we had picked a date. Because we will all drive from different places–us from Washington and my brother and nephew from several hours away in San Diego County, my cousin from an hour away, I suggested a specific time to meet, say 11 a.m.
It is costing us $1700 to have the ground opened, the ashes in the box placed into a cement casing and the ground covered. Then they’ll place a tablet we had inscribed on top of the ground next to our dad’s tablet. That’s it.
If we wanted to do it on a Saturday it would have cost another $500. If we had a minister do a small service, it was another $500. We’ve had a memorial and didn’t feel it necessary to have someone we didn’t know say a few words about someone they didn’t know for another $500.
Yesterday afternoon I received this email.
Thank you for the date given! I will now notify Glendale on the details
regarding the placement so they can put it on records.
The place will be at the gravesite between 9-4pm. Since this will be at
Forest Lawn’s convenience, there will be no Funeral Director assigned to
you. You can be at the graveside at the times mentioned.
Please let me know if you have further concern or questions.
(Note: The above is a direct quote.)
I wrote said representative a nice little email and said, “You bet, I have some concerns. We are expected to show up and wait around from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. hoping someone will show up with a shovel to bury our mom’s ashes?” I said.
Then I called her. When she answered she had just read my email and said, “Let me clarify. If we set an exact time, it will cost an additional $500.”
OH, NO, HELL NO, I said. Well, no, I didn’t say, OH, NO, HELL NO, but words to that effect.
What I did say was, “NO, THAT’S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING. YOU NEVER TOLD ME THAT. YOU EXPECT US TO COME ALL THAT WAY AND WAIT SEVEN HOURS OR IT’S AN EXTRA $500? NO. THAT’S WRONG.”
“Martha, I understand. I’m going to do my best. I talked to my supervisor. But now I’m going to talk to the vice president.”
The vice president of a large corporation (this is not one tiny cemetery…Forest Lawn has enormous cemeteries in L.A. County) has to decide whether or not they say, “Of course, we’ll have someone meet you. No problem. What time? How can we serve you?” Really?
I was furious. I was shaking. I couldn’t believe that she hadn’t cleared this up before ever trying to pass it by me with, “You can be at the graveside at the times mentioned.” I could just picture us sitting in lawn chairs in the middle of Forest Lawn having a picnic, although in retrospect that might have provided for some interesting family discussions.
I called my brother. He said, “The left hand never knows what the right hand is doing.” He told me a story about going to pick up their new computer yesterday at the time designated by the tech who was going to transfer information from the old computer to the new computer.
When he got there, the girl at the front desk said, “Oh, no, it’s not ready, they told you wrong. We always need 24 to 48 hours.”
“But I just drove more than an hour from home to pick it up.”
“I’m sorry,” she said.
He argued with her to no avail and drove home. An hour after he arrived home someone called to say the computer was ready.
That got me giggling in sympathy, taking my mind of my irritation.
Then we talked more about mom’s ashes.
“Some people keep them at home for years,” he offered (in jest, I’m sure).
I didn’t say, “Well, I’ll mail them to you,” but said, “I’m not going to do that.”
“What do I say if they can’t meet us at a specific time?” I said.
“Tell them we want our money back and we’ll scatter her ashes in the trees.”
I didn’t say, “Well, we should have gone to the Oregon Coast.”
He said, “I can just hear mom saying, ‘This is ridiculous.'”
I laughed as I pictured her face when she used to say that.
He told me that if necessary he would talk to the vice president.
Most important, for the first time in months my brother and I laughed together. I had tears in my eyes. He’s a funny guy and I was glad I had called.
We hung up and ten minutes later the representative called me back. I immediately said, “I’m sorry I yelled at you.” She laughed and said something kind like, “We meet all kinds.”
Then she said, “I talked to the vice president and he said, ‘In this case, we’ll make an exception.'” Damn straight, you’ll make an exception, I thought. Instead, “I said thank you for advocating for us.” So kind.
After I shared all of this with husband, I said, “We need to decide what to do with our ashes when the time comes.”
“Pour mine on the floor of the Social Security Administration office,” he said. Talk about drama.