Thursday, June 11, 2009
My father's body was cremated. My mother was annoyed by the call she received to bring his perfectly good suit that someone else might be able to wear to the funeral parlor for the cremation. She resented that it would go to waste. But they insisted that he had to be cremated in a suit.
So that was the end of the old wool suit and the body it had housed for years and years.
The ashes were placed in an urn, which had somehow arrived at the cemetery. A tiny hole had been dug and we stood around the urn and the hole and shared a few thoughts. Then in the sterile way of modern burials we left. Later the urn with its spent ashes magically found its way into the hole and was covered, but we were saved having all that disturbing sort of memory.
As if we could think of anything else.
Later that day we had the memorial service. My brother had come, and his wife, and my sister was there still. And the five of us were there. We shook hands with old friends and acquaintances after a routine service in the bright sanctuary of the Presbyterian church I had grown up in. And later that my parents had joined and served in.
And then we went to the home of the friends who had picked me up at the train the week before. Everyone sat around talking about my father, and how alcohol had killed him. Their grieving was made tolerable by a round or two of drinks...
I didn't drink. I had, until I had wised up, but that was well in the past. So I was jarred and unsettled, and was glad when we had to leave for the three-hour drive home.
The goats needed to be milked, and we needed to regroup as a family in our own way, with soberness and also sobriety.