Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Lilith talks funeral planning

"May I take cover from the rain?" I asked the small Hawaiian woman with deep furrows in her forehead. She worked at the entrance to the business building at the cemetery; beside her, a sign announced that it's a cashless business. "Of course," she said, even after I announced the presence of my dog. We talked about the weather, predictably unpredictable, and she wondered if I were a visitor. No, lived here for 25 years, I said. "So you know."
I told her that we received my father-in-law's ashes from here, but that they were scattered in the ocean. She wants to be cremated and scattered, but her kids want her to have a niche so they have a place to visit. Her husband was New York Italian; she has his ashes in an urn that she's surrounded with flowers next to her television, which she hasn't watched in four years. She showed me on her iphone. There's a box on the small table where the grandchildren can leave notes for their grandfather.
Her goal is to die in six years, when she's 80. Her sisters have the same goal. Their parents died in their late 80s, suffered dementia after they turned 80. The first indication, she told me, is that they get belligerent. I told her that my mother got sweet in the end. Yes, but first they're belligerent. And they were a burden on the family. She doesn't want to be.
My mother-in-law is 91, I said, and very sharp. She just had her second new knee. The woman I was talking to said she needed new knees, but couldn't afford to leave her job for that long. The doctor lied and told her six weeks, but a friend took six months to heal. Her job would give her $5,000, but who can live on that for six months? The worst knee is the right one, so she wouldn't be able to drive. No one to take care of her. So, she said, she just walks like a chimpanzee. 
"Don't get wet," she said, "or you might get sick." I took this as notice that Lilith and I should head home. The heavier rain had stopped--paused--so we headed off toward home. I don't like umbrellas.

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