Sunday, September 20, 2009

Drive-by

While I am a fairly sentimental person... wait. Okay, I am a really sentimental person. So sentimental I still have the "four carrot" ring my friend Cedric game me when we got "married" the day before Christmas vacation my Senior, his Junior year. So sentimental I have notes from girlfriends, passed scandalously, even though we knew the penalty would be to read them in front of the class. I take a lot of pictures of seemingly mundane things, but years from now I am fairly certain that I will still want to go back and see the day we put in our storm cellar, the hair bows the girls wore to school on August 25, 2009, and the moldy fiberglass we found behind the bathroom walls. I still have my mother's wedding dress, leftover napkins from our wedding and yes, my report cards from Kindergarten on up. I cry at Kodak commercials, refuse to watch Lifetime for fear of dehydration and have only recently let my daughters wear my Band Queen tiara because OH MY GOSH WHAT IF A RHINESTONE FALLS OUT? I WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO WEAR IT TO TEA WITH THE QUEEN!


Okay, so now that we've established my sentimentality (and borderline psychosis) there are some things I don't do. I didn't save my kids' umbilical stumps because...well. Ew. I don't send birthday cards, nor do I save them. I didn't keep up my kids' baby books. (Okay, so I kept up Abby's for awhile, but she was the first one and I didn't have anything else to do.) And no matter how many of them my mother hands me as I enter the gymnasium, I don't save the programs from the Christmas program. I know. String me up by my toes right this very minute. I am surely unfit.

There is also something else I don't do - I don't visit the cemetery. I never have. I remember as a kid any time I stayed with Nana and we left Picher to go to Miami for any reason (usually to take me to McDonald's) we almost always stopped at the cemetery on the way to or from. She always put a Masonic decoration thing on Pops' grave for Memorial Day and until she wasn't physically able anymore, kept his grave site neat and flowered. I never understood this. Even as a little kid I knew Poppy wasn't there so why were we?

As the years have gone by I've lost more and more family members and I haven't visited the cemetery any more often. My cousin Russ, Memaw, my cousin Jeff, Uncle Homer, Papa....all of them are buried in the same cemetery, Nan and Pop are somewhere else and so is Granny Glenn (I don't even know where Grandpa Glenn is...) and the only time I've been in the vicinity of their graves was at the funeral of someone else. Tater goes every so often and takes her kids, but not me. This last Memorial Day Paul said he wanted to take the kids around to all the cemeteries and I said I would go with him if he insisted, but I had no desire whatsoever to spend a day looking at headstones. He says I'm cold-hearted. He says that for the sake of history and respect I should go. I say bah humbug. And we didn't go.

I asked Jesus into my heart as my personal Savior at the tender age of seven. Even before that I fully understood that when we die our bodies cease serving a purpose and our souls are no longer on Earth. I can remember standing at the cemetery with Nan while she trimmed and pulled and decorated and wondered why would she do such a thing? It seemed so silly to me. It still kind of does today, although as an adult I know that everyone grieves and deals in their own way. If it makes you feel close to someone to visit their gravesite I certainly don't see anything wrong with it. Please do not attack me in the comments section. I honestly and truly believe you have to do what you have to do to heal. My sister visits the cemeteries and her kids can tell you where all of our late relatives are buried. My children cannot. Are either of us right or wrong? No. We are both doing what we feel is right for ourselves and our children. If my kids ever ask to go I will certainly take them, but I don't see me loading them up all by myself. And if Paul ever truly insists I accompany him, as his wife, I will.

I remember after my mother was single a year or so she announced to Sis and I that she wanted to be cremated and we both freaked the heck out. It seemed so barbaric, so viking-ish, so cruel to cremate someone you love and I refused to listen to her speak of it for years. In recent years I have quit freaking out and completely and 100% will follow her wishes. I will even drive to Iowa to the dang covered bridges to sprinkle her if that is still her wish. And I have since come to the decision that I want whatever part of me is useful to be donated wherever it needs to go. I want my organs harvested if they can be and after they take what they need - if they need it - I want the rest of me donated to science. Frankly, I don't know how possible the scientific donation is after organ donation - it may not be - but whatever. I just want the body I no longer need to be of some help to someone who does. When they're done with the fall organ harvest, they can cremate me and send the ashes to my family. Paul has issue with this but says he'll follow my wishes. My kids, even as young as they are, are okay with this as well. I tell them that instead of visiting a grave where I am not, to instead go to Disney World every few years, ride the Tower of Terror and scream "I LOOOOOOOVEEEEEE YOUUUUUUU MOMMMMMMM!" and that'll be enough to honor my existence. I thought of having them release my ashes on the ride, but that might get kind of messy and dusty and then people would be all sneezy and snotty because they'd have inhaled some of me while they were screaming their lungs out on the ride and I don't want to contribute to an allergy or asthma attack, so I'm still trying to decide where I want my remains scattered.

Sam is by far the most sentimental of my children and he and I were discussing my wishes awhile back. He asked why I would want my body to be picked over, poked, prodded and whatever else-d by medical students. I hugged him close to me and said, "Because Sam....what if by me donating my body to science they were able to find the cure for fatness? I mean, wouldn't you just feel ten kinds of awesome knowing that you momma was the woman whose selfless donation cured fatness for millions of people everywhere? I mean, you could have t-shirts printed! 'My Mom cured fatness' - just think of it!" He giggled and so did I. Most of our really serious conversations end in giggling. That's my gift to him. Hopefully that's my gift to everyone here while I'm alive - giggling, snorting, spewing beverages on your computer screens and chuckling about something I wrote as you go about your daily business.

All that being said, I found myself turning into the cemetery drive on Friday. I don't know why. I really don't. Even though I had been at her services less than two weeks before, I wasn't exactly sure where Nana and Pops' graves were. I couldn't see fresh dirt piled on top....I looked for the dang trees Tater told me to use as visual markers and couldn't remember what she'd told me - was it the second one? The short one?....I turned around and drove back....and turned around and drove back again. The little old couple who were visiting someone else probably thought I was some crazy psycho grave robber because they were eyeing me suspiciously with every pass. Yeah, because I always go grave-robbing on a Friday afternoon in broad daylight with a sleeping toddler in the backseat of my van that is easily identified by my vanity plates.

Maybe I couldn't find their graves because I am a negligent granddaughter. Maybe it was because I couldn't see through my tears.

Or maybe it was because a drive-by was enough for me.

4 comments:

MamaKBear said...

Personally, I do visit the cemeteries where my loved ones were buried when I can. I know that they aren't "there", but it is still somehow comforting to sit there at their last resting place and feel close to them while I talk about just everyday things. How big the kids are getting, who lost a tooth, etc.

Unfortunately, my most loved ones, like my GGrandpa and GGrandma and hubby's Dad are all spread out over Oklahoma, and I don't get to visit much.

You go on and grieve for your Nana who is still so fresh on your mind the best way for you. She understands if you don't come stand in front of her headstone. In fact, I bet she knew you well enough that she would be surprised if you did. I also bet that she smiled down at you and waved as you drove by. *Hugs*

Debbie said...

I love this post... I totally understand -- My Grannie took care of Grandpa's grave until she just wasn't able anymore; she died when I was 21. I was there for her services but I didn't go back on my own until one day last fall. I totally agree, she's not there -- In my heart and in my mind, she's in the kitchen cooking some variety of pork that I wouldn't dare eat, or checking the classifieds for another rent house 'cause she loooooved to move.

Mommyfried said...

I can say that I drive by my grandparent's graves at least 2 or 3 times a week. It just so happens that they built a Wal-Mart Super Center across the street. Of course it wasn't there when they were burried. Now the humor in this comes because I know that my grandma would just laugh and think it was funny because she now gets to "see" me more often! Never mind the fact I wouldn't have chosen for the store to be there but the irony of it is priceless.

I agree with you about your final wishes and mine are pretty much the same. My kiddo's (ages 8 & 10 at the time) were able to attend their first funeral this last year and I had the opportunity to have this same discussion with them. I do believe they understand my feelings about this.

Stacie said...

I don't have any reletives that I was ever close enough to that I would ever visit. But I do have my Pastor that I've visited a few times in the 3 years that he's been gone.
Mike's wishes are to be cremated, half of his ashes sprinkled off the back of a bike somewhere in mountains, the other half flushed down the toilet. How Mike is that? I bet his gf doesn't know that about him.
My wishes are to not be emballmed. I want the fall organ harvest, then bury me quickly without emballming me. I don't want my body drained of my blood. Is that weird? Actually, no, it's not, I read about it in a magazine one time and it's, get this, called "Green burial". How awesome is that? I already knew this was what I wanted, and to find that there's a name for it and it's named GREEN burial, that sealed the deal for me.