Friday, April 11, 2008

The Funeral


In Italian families, the theory of relativity can be confusing. People are often referred to as aunt or uncle even though there are no blood ties.

A week ago, a “cousin” called to tell me her mother, my Godmother or Comare as she is known in Italian (though in the dialect my parents speak she is known as Comater. Ma worked with Comater when they were young women, and was a bridesmaid in Comater’s wedding.) was very ill and not expected to live out the week. Comater has been in a nursing home for three years, suffering from dementia. Cousin Cee wasn’t sure how to tell my parents so that became my monkey.

I called hoping to get Dad on the phone. I should have just told Ma I was calling to say hello or to check on them. Instead, I told her about Comater. Ma got very emotional. Went through a litany of how no one does anything for her, takes her any place. She had wanted to visit with Comater, but my father wouldn’t take her.

Hello? How was he going to get you there? Push you on your walker?

I was reminded of the joke where a friend is taking care of another friend’s cat. The cat climbed onto the roof of the house, fell off and died. The cat’s owner was upset his friend didn’t tell him gently and in degrees to prepare him for the news. Sometime later, the friend is taking care of his friend’s mother. The mother’s son called his friend to find out how his mom wasdoing. The friend replied, “Your mother is on the roof.”

I should have been more mindful how emotional Ma would be. She’s only three years younger than Comater, so this must have really hit her hard.

Monday, Ma called to tell me Cousin Cee had called her to say Cumater had passed away.

“Cumater didn’t want a wake so everything will be done all in one day. The funeral will be on Thursday.”

I’ve been down the funeral preparation road before and thoroughly learned my lesson. The following day, I went on line and found Cumater’s obit in the paper along with the funeral arrangements. Calling hours would be from 8:30 to 10:30 am on Thursday morning. There would be a Mass at 11am and internment at the cemetery.

I called Ma to tell her Himself and I would get her to the funeral, but we wouldn’t be able to attend the graveside service as we wouldn’t be back in time to pick The Young One up from school. Ma wasn’t too happy, about not being able to attend the entire funeral, but there wasn’t much I could do about that.

Later, I relayed the arrangements to Himself.

“Who told you the funeral is on Thursday?”

“Ma, but…”

He gave me the look that said he wasn’t going to a funeral just on Ma’s say so. Once bitten , twice shy.

“I have the obit and directions to the funeral parlor and church from the newspaper.

He breathed a sigh of relief.

In another phone call, I had told Ma, we wouldn’t be able to get to the funeral parlor at 8:30 am, but we’d make it for the calling hours and the Mass. I reminded her we wouldn’t be going to the graveside service.

Thursday morning after dropping The Young One off at school, we headed to Ma’s, and arrived at 8:30am.

Dad greeted us at the door dressed in a suit and tie.

“She’s in the shower!” He was upset with the delay because he wanted to get the show on the road.

We hunkered down for a wait.

Ma shuffled out of the bathroom and went to get dressed.

We waited some more.

Dad was fuming.

“She thinks they will wait for her!”

I laughed. “Well, she’ll get a rude awakening.”

Dad went upstairs to his office and we heard shuffling and banging around, and animal noises. A few minutes later, Dad came downstairs.

“What’s the matter?” I asked.

“Nothing.”

“Had to be something. You made the Grrr face. I heard you.”

Dad gave me a sheepish grin. When he gets frustrated or angry, he has the habit of rolling his tongue under and biting it while making grrrr noises.

“I live with a fisherman or rather a fisherwoman.”
“What?”

“Your mother goes fishing through things that she has no business touching. I had some papers I wanted to give you. I put them away, and now I can’t find them.”

It’s true that Ma goes fishing. It’s how The Brother got caught with cigarettes, though I suspected that Dad just couldn’t remember where he had put the papers in safe keeping.

“I’m sure they’ll turn up.” I went into Ma’s bedroom to help her get dressed to hurry her along a little bit. She loved the attention of having me put her socks and shoes on.

Ma shuffled out of her bedroom and went into the kitchen. I helped Ma get settled to have a bowl of cereal and a cup of diesel oil, er, coffee. I don’t drink coffee so I thought black was a figurative expression for how coffee looks when first poured into a cup. When milk is added, the coffee turns a deep, warm shade of brown. I was glad I wasn’t drinking this sludge.

I went back to the living room and sat down.

“Now, what’s she doing?” Dad hissed.

“She’s having breakfast.”

He started to make the grrr face.

“She’s a diabetic. She can’t go without breakfast,” Himself said smoothly.

“She should have been ready.”

Ma had probably spent the morning going over her papers from Auntie Rose. Business comes first.

Finally, after showering, dressing,and breakfast, we got the Weebles loaded and went to the funeral parlor with a half hour to spare. The funeral director and his assistants were very attentive to Ma. They had Himself bring Ma around to the side door where there was a handicap ramp.

Dad was quite pleased that we were positioned behind the family car in the funeral procession.

“Boy, Cee is treating us just like family.”

Himself and I didn’t want to disabuse Dad of the notion. We knew the funeral director was catering to the handicap.

Sadly, I have to report that Ma and Dad were on their best behavior. Disappointing from a blog fodder standpoint. I was very tempted to instigate trouble at the funeral parlor. There were a couple of dozen people in the room. It would have been so very easy to start a riot.

“Too bad, Dad never took you to visit Cumater while she was in the nursing home.”

Ma would have started singing the “He’s Stupid” song, and I would have had a more interesting blog.

2 comments:

Nutterone said...

A sad situation, but sometimes I love your ma... No one tells her what to do, that's for sure! *grin*

Erica Vetsch said...

You slay me...musta killed you not to throw that cat amongst the pigeons. :)