My father died on September 9th and we buried him a week later. September 16th, for the slow among you. That's very nearly three months, which amazes the hell out of me (although I'm not sure how long I feel like it's been. Days and years, I suppose, depending on my mood).
My mother is a world-champion procrastinator, particularly if the task at hand is unpleasant. Unpleasant tasks, for her, include washing dishes, clearing off the kitchen table, finishing her school work, and ordering a marker for my father's grave.
I can't say that I blame her for putting off the latter. I don't think that's anyone's idea of fun. Also, when we made arrangements for my dad, we set it up so that when Mum kicks it, she'll be buried in the same plot. So the stone is going to have her name on it too. Which I can't imagine. It's hard enough coming to terms with your own mortality in the face of a loved one's death. It must be even harder to order a grave stone with your name on it.
But yesterday - or rather, Thursday, as it's after midnight as I write this - I nagged just long and hard enough that my mother drove us down to Mountain View Memorial Gardens and we picked something out. It'll be very ... well, not pretty, but nice. Granite base and everything. I had to sort of hold her hand through the whole thing (figuratively, although once she started crying I did put an arm around her).
After we got it ordered, we went for a little walk to the grave site. We could have driven but a Mr. Frankenstein (seriously) was being buried a little ways off and I didn't want to disturb the solemnity of the occasion. Beside which it was a lovely day for a walk.
I remembered exactly where to go. Mum didn't, which I thought was kind of funny. If my grave was picked out already, I think I'd know EXACTLY where to find it. But I digress again. When we got there, we found a temporary marker (which I sort of expected, and appreciate - it's important to keep track of the dead in a place like that).
They remembered the "D" in Rodger; that pleased me immensely. I'd held up remarkably well, I must say, until I got a good look at the marker. Nothing about the marker specifically set me off so much as the cold realization that my father's body was about eight feet below my shoes. I lost it then. Mum did too, and we cried for a bit.
Then we went on our way.
The good news is that in six to eight weeks we'll be the proud owners of a gravestone. I think Mum's lucky in that respect. How many people get to see their gravestones before they die? Now she knows she won't (many many many years from now mind you) be buried beneath the inscription, "I'm sorry, what did you say?" or perhaps something more creative like, "Here lies Peggy, 'cause she's dead/never was right in the head."
Instead, it says BARBER in capital letters in the middle, with my dad's name on the left, hers on the right, dates below names, Mesa temple in the left corner, and "Together Forever/10-9-1976" in the right. Although I think that might be a little confusing because my parents were sealed in the St. George temple, not the one in Mesa. But Mum wanted the Mesa temple and in any case St. George wasn't in the book.
Did you know you can get a Salvation Army logo on your grave stone? Also a Boy Scout Beaver. Or a Bingo card. Or any number of tasteless emblems that reminded me more of tattoos than anything else. I suggested the hunting rifle to Mum but she refused.
Maybe I'll pre-arrange my own funeral and grave. Order a stone with a hunting rifle and the phrase, "I told you I was sick." Add a sportscar and call myself "Jill the Great."
On the walk back to the car I saw a stone that had a picture of a Ferrari and "Mr. D" and that was it. I'm not sure if Mr. D was a Ferrari. Heaven only knows what's buried there, or who.
And now, if you'll excuse me, it's my bedtime and I'm looking forward to a number of unsettling dreams.