Thursday, November 18, 2010

Planning My Parent's Funeral

Awww don't feel bad. They aren't dead or anything. As a matter of fact, I went with my mom. Something about spending down some extra money and pre-paying her funeral expenses. Would that we all had everything we needed in our life, that we could start buying the things we'll need when we're dead.

Anyway, I recommend this for anyone who wants a real bonding experience with a parent.  I had her in stitches and she me.

Disclaimer: Because I hate to offend anyone, I need to warn you: I am about to make fun of funerals, funeral homes, funeral home workers, and a tiny bit of the rituals that are wrapped around death.

Still with me? Great.

First off, the funeral home is nice. Not in a Good Housekeeping kind of way, more of the Victorian Era meets the 21st Century (sure I noticed the 60" flat screen).  What wake is it that allows you to watch tv?  What are we watching, the game? Or better yet, Millionaire Matchmaker? I'd attend even if I didn't know the deceased.

So, the woman who opened the door, scared me a little and only because my hackles were up and I was a little creeped out at what we were there for. She was short, wearing all black (obvs.) and looked as though she had suffered a stroke (I can make stroke jokes, right? 'Cause my dad's had one. I'm in the club). No, she didn't have a hump  - although I looked. I wished she had answered the door "Goood Eveeening". But it was daytime.

She directed us to a room that was sparse and looked normal except that you noticed one of the walls had a big indent in it. Enough space for a coffin casket and some flowers I'm guessing.  So, this wasn't regular home turned funeral home. Not unless it's so old that it was built in the time that people had wakes in their homes - like my mom did. How convenient to have a built in spot just for Grandma's body.

If it wasn't for that small detail, the room would have looked totally normal. We waited for our funeral worker, I was praying for Michael C. Hall (how awesome would that have been??). No it was a she, and she was pregnant and she was all in black - really? Not one tiny bit of color. Does color offend the dead? When we die are we all like, "NO MORE COLOR! I couldn't stand for you to wear happy clothes." Jokes on them, tho 'cause I look awesome in black. Orange would be so much more depressing.

Where were we - yes, Ms. Goth was explaining the line items as if we were purchasing an automobile and there were features we could get or not, depending on our style and budget. It was going all fine, my mom was awesome and cheaping out and I don't blame her. We don't need a limo.  A hearse, yes! But we can throw my mom in the back of the Hyundai. She agreed, love her! We argued about the open casket vs. closed and she's all old school and wants to see my dad and thinks her siblings will be mad if they don't get to see him "one last time," good grief. I said fine and promised we'd keep hers open, but I had my fingers crossed the whole time.

We laughed when there was an additional $100 extra for her because she'll need to have her hair done. She doesn't spend that kind of money now. She's always complaining about her thinning hair that no one knows what to do with. I told her this hair dresser might be the one!

Then came time for casket shopping. I paused by the urns. Found one that was 50 bucks and said. "This will be fine for me." Goffarina said, "That's for an animal." I said, "So, I wouldn't fit in it?" She was not amused. We went for the cheapest caskets but mom didn't like the look of the light birch. "It looks like it's the cheapest one," she says. Don't want that. So, we got the walnut vaneer stain. Just like their kitchen cabinets. We picked out blue lining for dad, cream for mom - awww....I tried to get her to put an etching on the inside lid of the casket (I guess the departed will want something to look at throughout eternity) that said something about "Going Home", but she wanted the Harley Davidson -  Oh, I wish!! ((Mental note: Tell hubby to put a picture of Sting on the inside of my casket.))

Back in the room.  Gothella asked us to look through prayer cards while she tallied the amount. I asked her to please remember the pre-paid discount. Flipping through all those cards was crazy. Mom was all, "No one cares about these things, they just throw them away." Yes, indeedy they do. But she thought one would be nice to do as a reading. So I copied part of it down the back of one of my check stubs to Google later. I asked her the name of it  and she said "Afterglow." We were both howling with laughter, when our friendly funeral worker arrived and told us the damage. We abruptly stopped laughing. Apparently there is no pre-paid deal. What gives? And certainly no "buy one get one 1/2 off" deal, like Payless Shoes. So, $22,000 later - we can all rest in peace!

Wait 'til I tell dad. It's gonna kill him!


  1. My mother has helpfully already picked out a red cut glass container that is basically a glorified footed lidded candy dish and said that's what she wants her ashes in and that she will spend half the year with my sister and half with me.

  2. What a surreal experience - funny account though!

    Being it was your parents planning their funeral and they're still alive, couldn't Mrs Goth and Gothella bend to a bit of humour or some light hearted banter?