Gut Rumbles
 

July 26, 2003

Test yourself

Stay awake for 36 hours and watch your father die. Then, have your mama say, "Handle the arrangements, Rob." Go do it.

Have some used-car salesman at a funeral home try to convince you that you need to bury your father in a casket that costs twice as much as the truck he drove when he was alive. Tell that man to kiss your ass and pick out something just above a pine box. See to the plot and the vault and walk out of there feeling as if YOU died. But get it done.

Then go home and cry like a baby for for an hour. Do that while you are alone. Nobody else needs to see that. Take a short nap. Then go stay with Mom the rest of the day while people from the church drop by to bring food and sympathy.

That evening, put on the suit you were going to get married in and go stand at the funeral home for three hours and shake hands with everybody who comes by to pay their respects to your father. Mom, my brother and I all agreed that the lid would be closed on my dad's coffin. We didn't want to hear anybody say how "good" he looked in there.

He didn't look good the last time I saw him. He looked dead.

Put up with the assholes who ask you why the coffin is closed. Don't punch anybody. Don't cry. Be dignified. Keep your shit in one sock.

I did all of that. I went home after the reception at the funeral home and took off that suit. It's been hanging in a dry-cleaner bag ever since. I got married in a different suit.

I fixed myself a Jim Beam and water and sat on the couch. I listened to some music and felt the most complete exhaustion I have ever known. I still had the graveside service and the planting to look forward to the next day. I wondered how my mom would cope. I wondered how I would cope. I felt a tremendous sense of loss that I was too busy to think about until then.

I finished my drink and went to bed. I slept like... a dead man.

I still dream about my father. I miss him a lot. I believed that I would never experience a worse time in my life than those two terrible days. But I was wrong.

A woman later treated me worse than the Reaper ever did. That one damn near killed me.

Comments

Death always brings out the worst in people. And funeral directors are vultures in homo-sapiens suits!

Try hearing this in the funeral car on the way to your mother's funeral:

"So, Joni Marie, when did you find out you were adopted?"

(Uh, right now, I guess!)

Posted by: Joni on July 26, 2003 08:37 AM

I'm sorry for you, Rob. BUT life is full of death, taxes and heartbreak. It happens to EVERYONE, which is what makes us human. It is what connects us to each other. I love to share birth stories and death stories. I usually keep the heartbreak stories to myself.

Posted by: Susan on July 26, 2003 09:23 AM

I'm glad you wrote this. I wrote about the death of my own father here and there and lately was thinking whether I wanted to be that personal "in a blog". You reminded me that this is powerful stuff to write about.

Posted by: Biroco on July 26, 2003 09:25 AM

My condolences for your loss. I lost my father when I was a teenager and I was struck by the way you described the day's events. Your words rang truer than you can imagine.

Posted by: A.J. on July 26, 2003 10:05 AM

They say divorce is like a death,
but I think death is natural and divorce is like a foreign object inserted deep under your skin. Please don't worry it's been too long to still feel so strong on this, people who love deeply, feel pain deeply too...it'll take as long as it takes but I pray someday it's replaced with someone/something *new* under your skin..

Posted by: Trease on July 26, 2003 01:27 PM

Understand your sentiments exactly. I just buried my father in January and my uncle in March. I'm 34 damn year old and buried my Dad. He would have been 55 this past April. 4 hours at the funeral home. Church service. Graveside. And now I am in a court battle with the woman he lived with for the last 6 months of his life. She is trying to claim "common-law" status and recieve 1/3 of Dad's measly estate. He was a maintenance man for Allied Signal. He doesn't have a damned estate. He had a house and a 93 Chevy pick-up. 55 years old. He stopped smoking 10 years ago but the Marlboros still caught up to him. I understand what you are going through.

Posted by: Barry on July 26, 2003 11:12 PM

Hey dude, Go with your soul mate, pick out the coffin with her, she is so thoughtful of expense and realistic, she picks out a pine box, no shit. Buried her in my plot at the VA cemetary in Chatanooga. Man we all have tales of sorrow, and it all hurts. It's the human condition. Love and death, what we need most and what we get. Aint life a bitch!

Posted by: ken on July 27, 2003 08:41 PM
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