by Peary Perry
all heard the old saying,”if he didn’t have bad luck, he’d have no luck at all.”
I am living proof that this is true. As you may recall, a few weeks ago,
I wrote an article about the death of my Mother-in Law. She died in her sleep
at the ripe old age of eighty-eight, we should all be so lucky. Anyway, as usual
after she dies, my wife and I get moving on doing the normal funeral stuff. We
held a memorial service for her out in Seattle, where she has lived for the past
eight or nine years then had her shipped back to Texas for the burial.
arrived at the local funeral home five days before the actual burial and both
my brother in law and my wife had been in constant contact with these folks to
make certain everything was taken care of.
As you might be able to discern,
Words cannot describe what all we have gone through to get this
First off, we arrive at the funeral home about two hours
before the viewing. One of the funeral directors insists on asking me a ton of
questions like: what hospital was she in when she died? What funeral home was
she taken to in Seattle? I tried to explain that I live in Austin, Texas not Seattle
and those questions should be addressed to my wife’s brother when he gets here.
arrives, and answers the necessary questions. Then we start to get the charges
for the services. Both of us told the two directors, we wanted one final total
bill for everything so all we had to do was to write one check. We got through
with most of the stuff and wrote a check. He forgets the fee for the minister,
another check. Then he forgets the fee for the carving on the stone, another check.
Then he adds the cost of some flowers my wife had ordered, the last check.
am beginning to get an uneasy feeling.
The viewing is from 1PM until 2PM
and the burial at 2:30. There are four funerals going on at the same time in these
little viewing rooms. No names are on any of the doors, so everyone is wandering
from room to room looking in the coffins for Granny. I go to the front and ask
about the nametags for the doors. They came around and put them in the holders.
isn’t a podium for the guest book. I ask for one and they look at me as if I came
from the moon, but end up getting one to me. When I walk to the office again I
see an old man in there who I have seen there every time my wife’s family has
had a funeral in the past 36 years. I ask him how long has he worked there and
he tells me for ‘fifty four years.’ I’m thinking they must know how to do this
by now; it just must be a bad day for everyone.
Was I wrong.
service is over and we move out to the cemetery across the street, following a
map to the gravesite they have given us. My wife says she doesn’t think this is
where her dad was buried. I’m leading a line of about 40 very old people (remember
she was 88). I stop where the map says, walk to the canopy and look at the tombstone.
Not her family name.
By this time most of the mourners are beginning to
get out of their cars. This is an ordeal in itself. I tell them there is a mistake
and they slowly, retreat back inside of their vehicles.
We see another
canopy a couple of hundred yards away and drive to it. Nope, not that one either.
Then we see the hearse coming, carrying the body and we figure they surely
know where to go.
They get behind a backhoe with two workers. I am really
Yep, you got it, no grave. No chairs, no awning, no concrete
vault, no green carpet stuff…nothing. Just a hearse with a body, us and the old
folks trying to get out of their cars again.
By this time the funeral home
people and the cemetery people are pointing figures at each other trying to place
Me, I’m trying to get everyone out of the sun, before we need to
I see a mausoleum about 100 yards away and suggest we move
the body and the people over there.
We do and have a very nice, if unusual
My brother in law and wife are very upset. I herd everyone out
to his or her cars and drive home.
When I go, you can give whatever parts
anyone can use, then cremate me and throw my ashes out on the highway for all
I care. I refuse to allow any of my relatives suffer through this kind of nonsense.
the money on a good lunch, not on putting me in some expensive metal box that
goes in the ground.
That’s all I have to say about this.
© Peary Perry
- January 18, 2006 column
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