I remember the day very clearly, a call came from the funeral home and the warm friendly voice on the other end said “Dee Dee this is Phil at Burnett-Dane. Your Mother needs to be picked up” he went on “I think she is tired of endless games of gin rummy in the back room with the boys”. Please, I thought, she would never want to go if she were playing cards, certainly not if she was winning, and certainly not if she were the center of attention. He continued “She can’t just stay here; really you need to come get her”. I sighed, and agreed to a time to pick her up.
I pulled up and parked in the lot, went inside and met Phil. He said he’d bring her right out, and he would walk her to the car. He came out of his office carrying the white gift bag with the blue fleur-de-lis and cherubs on it, and motioned me ahead, and proceeded to my car, where he carefully placed the bag containing my mom in the passenger seat and buckled her in. I asked “where did you get that bag”? , he said “I looked for a special one for her”. He expressed his condolences once again and waved goodbye to me. So there I was with mom in the passenger seat of my 1998 Gold Altima, hardly the grand white hearse she had probably imagined, and that bag. She would hate that bag and probably the understated urn, but it was temporary, no big deal, and get over the bag.
I’m always relieved when someone is delivering
a eulogy and I realize I’m listening to it.
My mother never talked about death. It wasn’t on her radar and apparently not something that was going to happen to her, so
consequently after death issues were not discussed. So it was left up to me. I decided on cremation because I was worried about her being alone with no visitors in a cemetery; I mean suppose I move? I thought she would be pleased because, you see I had a plan that we (I) would take mom on trips to places she loved, and we would leave a bit of her in each place. The former Croydon Hotel at Rush and Ontario; at 606 S. Wabash (the former home of the 606 Club); her grandmother’s grave in Virginia; Times Square in New York; London’s Palladium and of course Paris, sprinkled ceremoniously in the Seine! A world tour of putting Diane to rest in all her favorite places! How fun and exciting would this be!? What I had not counted on was that she would pass a few weeks after 9/11 and that taking little baggies of Mom in a powdered state on a plane could be problematic, in fact impossible. So 13 years later Mom is still in the blue and white bag, tucked between the book case and the dresser in my guest room, and this poses a problem. What happens if I grab it to move it? Will it rip because of its age? Of course I wonder how long it can just stay there; but where else would I put her? At some point I would like to move and then will be forced to dislodge the bag. What if I can’t remember where I left her? I don’t have a “display” area to mention, not that that appeals to me, because the urn, well, the urn is another story.
Quick to the rescue my childhood friend Paula said “how about I take her to Florida? Didn’t she have family there? Didn’t you live there? Maybe we can spread her! But be sure to get a sturdy bag for the trip”! So the search began for the new bag in order to make the trip, one befitting the remains of Diane Raye, “American Burlesque Girl” a name given her in the London papers early in her career. Because Florida here she comes!
Cremation is a funny thing to those of us left holding the bag..and I mean literally holding the bag.