Yesterday was my aunt Theresa's funeral in California. Aside from me, the whole family made it out to support my uncle (my dad's brother). I was going to try to make it out, but I would've had to take a redeye, drop in, take a redeye back. I opted to instead go out for a weekend when I could actually spend some time with my uncle Ken and the family. This isn't a sob story though.*
I called my dad's cellphone yesterday hoping I could talk to my uncle. My stepmom, Carla, picked it up and was quite cheerful. Hearing her you would've thought she just got out of a bumper car rather than having just left a funeral. It was odd. Especially since I had just talked to my sister who told me the funeral was a "real tearjerker."
Now, Carla is one of those people who lives for tragedy. She'll never bring up a current event unless it's tragedy related (she's got plenty to work with).
"Did you hear about the baby stuck in the well for 8 years without food or water or air?"
"Oh my God - a trashcan blew up in England. People in London can never throw away their garbage again!"
"GiGi, do you live by the tram that got stuck over Roosevelt Island? Imagine how those people must have felt! Suspended 10 whole feet in the air!"
All of these sentiments, of course, are spoken with underlying fear. Yesterday's conversation with her, however, was sprinkled with humor.
So, I asked Carla about the funeral and she reported the names of the sobbers and noted the fact that Theresa's weird mom brought two guests who Theresa didn't even know during life (this inevitably brought up the question: "Who the hell goes to a funeral of someone they didn't even know? I don't even like to go to the funerals of people I did know."). Then she told me that my uncle, Ken, went up and had to scoop up some of Theresa's ashes from a gold container and put them into another container. She called it the "passing of the ashes" or something. This is where it started getting weird....
My immediate reaction was to think about how painful it would be to see the remains of my spouse in a small box in front of me. Even more so, to scoop it up and move it around. I couldn't deal. I told Carla as much and she broke into song about how she told my dad she wanted to be cremated as well. She then started giggling and told me that my dad wanted her to instead be buried next to him.
"I told him that the only way I'm going to be buried next to him is if they dig me up after he dies and then put me next to his body in the same casket. I want us to be spooning. I have a certain way I like to put my arm around him so I would have to make sure that was right too." She laughed.
Did I say this conversation was outlined by humor? I meant alcohol.
*Here's the sob story: Theresa died way too young of brain cancer, but lived far beyond the expectations of her doctors. I spoke to my uncle the day she died. I had never seen even a speck of emotion from him. He cried as he told me that he held her hand as she died. He said her sisters and her daughter were there as well. They could all tell it was coming. He said that when Theresa was passing she smiled. He said, "It was the cutest little smile I've ever seen in my life. I'll always have that smile."
Theresa and Ken met years ago when Theresa called his house and got the wrong number. Minutes later she called him back, told him she liked his voice and well...