Wednesday, January 2, 2008

To Bury a Parent

I don’t recall if I’ve written about this previously or not. I just reviewed my archive titles, and I don’t believe so.

A few months from now will be the thirty-first anniversary of my mother’s untimely death. I was twenty at the time. She was forty-three. A school bus rear ended her car and she burned to death. She had just dropped off one of my brothers at school. He was fifteen at the time, and the last person to see her alive.

At the time, it was decided that we would not have a traditional graveyard burial and memorial. I say “it was decided,” because I don’t remember being part of the discussion at the time. I don’t know if I would have agreed or not, but that’s neither here nor there.

She was cremated (obviously), and we planted her ashes under the roots of a sapling on a small pastoral piece of property my mother and father owned. They had planned on building a house on this land. My dad subsequently remarried less than a year after my mom’s death, and the land was sold. The rancher who purchased the land had a bull who destroyed the sapling; thus obliterating my mother’s “grave.”

Several years later my dad buried his second wife to breast cancer. This is a terrible thing to die from, but we celebrated as she was the quintessential evil stepmother. I only encountered her evil peripherally, but my younger siblings suffered under her. And my spineless father allowed it, and helped her coddle her own sons. So the celebration at her death was well deserved. I don’t remember where she was buried, and I don’t care.

My dad went on to wed again, and he showed equally, if not worse, judgment this time around. We were all grown and out from under parental thumbs by this time, but this woman ended up being a drug-addicted money pit. All of my dad’s current and future worth went into her money pit of a B&B, though he was not afforded any portion of ownership thereto. When my grandparents’ estate was eventually liquidated, that very considerable wealth was similarly subsumed. It went up her nose as had his career when he took the very public fall for her addiction – her career to protect.

He died a little over a year ago (three days before Thanksgiving, 2006), for all practical purposes, without a penny to his name. He was still married to the money pitted old tart. She was delighted to see him gone; he had dementia his last two years and that lessened the fun she had at his expense.

His children, my siblings and I, will be gathering in Hawaii this spring. Our mother was born and raised there, as were we all (except my older sister – born in Munich). Our father and mother met there somewhere on the order of fifty-five years ago. They met while working on a set for a college theater production. They made a very good looking couple. They have been apart nearly thirty years.

So we will meet this spring to reunite them. We have a smidgeon of his ashes; his drug-addled ex managed to scrape some off the kitchen counter before snorting them or mixing them in with the kitty litter. And my sister and brother rescued these dried old flakes of bone in a spice jar. These we will place in the ground not far from the town our mother was raised in. We will add mementos of her life.

Her parents, our grandparents, are buried there as well. It’s fitting. After thirty years of being blown to the wind and trampled underfoot by a bull, now long gone itself, our mother can rejoin our father. And perhaps (though I am not so romantic to really believe it so), she can redeem him at last.

1 comment:

Beth said...

sniff, sniff. another touching story. you write really well! I like to write too but I can never just sit and think of something to write. I do better when given a topic. I always did well in school but have never been able to just come up with subject matter - you on the other hand just wrote a great little story about something I never would have thought to write about.