My visit—despite the reason, and the rain—was really quite nice; the usual family squabbles that erupt when things like this happen only lasted a day or two, and the anticipated planning and attendance of the wake, funeral, post graveside get together and the drunken rowdiness that was sure to follow (this is my family we’re talking about, after all) never materialized, so for the vast majority of the time, I was on my own and able to do as I pleased. It was rewarding on many levels, one of which was the opportunity to slack off.
Think about it—how often do you get to do nothing? When was the last time you were able to lounge in guilt-free leisure? Holiday? Not a chance; those are precious days, and need to be savored with an itinerary in one hand and a stop watch in the other. When you’re sick? Well, I grant you’re not doing much, but it’s hard to enjoy those sort of days, isn’t it? And, truth be told, you’re kept fairly busy trotting to the little room to expel various semi-solids from one end or your gastrointestinal tract or another, depending on just what type of sickness you have. When you’re on the dole? Yes, you can sit around watching Eastenders and The Real Housewives of LA, but isn’t there a niggle always present in the back of your mind, sucking the joy out of your day by reminding you that you ought to be down at the Job Centre filling in forms and adding another layer of hyperbole to your CV?
True down time is as rare as yeti scat, and I was handed a basket full of it as a final gift from my father.
Unbeknown to me (and, I expect, just about everyone else) my father had drawn up a list of last wishes. Getting over to the States was a scramble, and I managed to arrive just in the nick of too late. Then, as I mentally prepared myself for phase II, the final requests were revealed: immediate cremation and burial in the family plot without ceremony, memorial or fanfare of any kind. This was accomplished in a startlingly short time and without need of my involvement, which is, of course, what he wanted.
Lounging at Lyon's Lake on one of the few sunny afternoons.
So this left a span of days wherein I had nothing to do but ramble around, drink beer, listen to WTRY 98 All Oldies All the Time and catch up on what has been happening in the quiet countryside during my absence.
And it was nice, but I did wonder about dad’s chosen method of dispatch. I mean, he had himself cremated and buried. Granted, he already owned the plot, but it is still a lamentable waste of prime real estate. If he’d had himself scattered around the bar at the VFW, that would have been more appropriate, and then he could have sold the plot and thrown one last party that he might have enjoyed. And even as it stands, he’s only taking up half of the plot—he’s in an urn, after all—so he might have arranged for a sub-let of the remaining half and put the money to some use while he was still around to benefit from it.
But that was not my dad’s way. He was a taciturn man who just wanted to live life his way and not impinge on, or depend on, anyone else. And that was how he ended it.
So thanks for the free days, dad, I really enjoyed them. But I wouldn’t have minded if you had leveraged that plot while you had the chance. I would have happily scattered your ashes for you; I had plenty of time.