Bonus Short Story
This week, I’m including a bonus post, in addition to my regular update! I’m featuring the short story that started it all, inspiring Ruth Long, Age 88 and the entire In Loving Memory series. The story was based on the writing prompt: write a funeral scene from the point of view of the deceased.
Ruth Long, Age 88
Carnations, seriously?! So much for honoring your mother! What is this, a 1970s high school prompt?! Come to think of it, even my prom date sprung for a rose corsage. I battled cancer for heaven sake and look at the cheap ass flowers my kids picked. I bet it was that Melissa who picked these out. Never liked her. My David could have done so much better. Whatever happened to that Lisa he dated in college? She was such a nice girl.
I forgot how itchy this suit is. I should have donated it when I got sick, just to be sure they wouldn’t bury me in it. I never even liked this suit. I think I wore it to my nephew’s wedding. His wife, now she was a piece of work. Divorced twice, three kids. All illegitimate. Still not clear on how exactly that works but whatever. And then she ran off with her boss. Such a shame but he kind of had that one coming. And his new boyfriend is such a sweetheart.
They could have picked out a nicer box. How did I get stuck with such cheapskate kids?! John set up that funeral trust for our tenth anniversary. I nearly killed him. But there was certainly enough money to cover a nicer box than this. Polyester lining; I never. Not like they had to spend a lot on embalming. I’m practically back to my birth weight after all the chemo. I’m surprised they chose to have me buried in my most expensive wig. Would have thought that Melissa would have tried to sell it online already. Put me in some kind of headscarf, but not one of my good ones. She sure as hell wouldn’t let good silk go down with me. This thing is real hair. Bet that weirdo funeral director takes it off of me before they close the box.
Speaking of that Melissa, here she comes now. Oh, look at those tears. I bet she put eye drops in before they got out of the car. Gosh they almost look real. You’re not fooling anyone sweetie. Give it a rest. No need to make such an exhibition of yourself dear. She asked me if I wanted to end it about three months after I started treatment. Offered to slip me the morphine. I never told David. What a bitch my son married. But look at him. So handsome in his blue suit. Just like his father the day I married him. Thank God they never had kids. That woman as a mother; ugh.
And there’s my sweet Carolyn. Oh my love, please don’t cry. You did your best for your mother. At my bedside every day. Such a shame she’s a spinster and will probably end up with fifty cats. So smart and so beautiful yet so completely inept when it comes to men. What was the name of that last moron she brought home? Brandon, no. Aaron, no. Brian, that was it. God, what a moron! Someone should check that guy’s basement. I bet he murders his pets. That creep had the nerve to dictate her wardrobe, hair style. Wouldn’t let her drive to work. Yelled at her when she mowed her own lawn. I’m going to put in a bad word for him when I get where I’m going. Or you, know. Maybe a good word; depending.
Wow, now there’s a face I never thought I see here. My sister Gina. When was the last time I saw her?! Five years ago. Or was it six? She couldn’t remember my number when I was alive. Couldn’t be bothered to show up even after I left her that message about my diagnosis. David even tried to call her last week, when the doctor said my day was coming up. But here she is. She always could be counted on to show up for a free meal.
Oh my neighbor Jim is here. I don’t even have a pulse and he still makes it race. Look at those blue eyes. After John died, he was so kind. Took care of the lawn and cleaned the gutters. I wonder how he manages to stay in such amazing shape at 72. And still has that thick, raven hair. I really should have invited him over for dinner. Maybe light a few candles. What’s that Jim, the lamb is the best you’ve ever tasted. Why thank you; I just threw this meal together. Would you care for more wine? What’s that, you like my dress. Oh gosh, I just pulled this out of the back of the closet. Haven’t worn it in ages. And look at my hair, such a mess. You’re too kind. Oh, and there’s his wife, Carol. What a frump.
Here come the women from the ladies’ society from church. Really Liz; I look just the way I did before I got sick?! Time to have those cataracts done, dear. She always was blind as a bat. But I will miss Jenny. Such a gentle soul. So quiet and considerate. She visited me every week when I was going through treatment. She brought those wonderful cookies from that bakery on Main Street. Those were so good. I hope they have those where I’m going. Be a shame if they didn’t. Look at her, hugging my David. She’ll keep an eye on him for me. I know she will.
Wait, who on earth is that?! That’s at least the fifth person I’ve seen come through this receiving line to pay respects that I’ve never seen before in my life. Who does that?! Who honestly thinks some woman I’ve never met died. Gosh, I think I’ll take time out of my life to show up to her funeral and pay my respects. And look at this guy. Hey buddy, move it along before that sweat on your forehead drips on me and messes up my makeup. That poor artist had quite a time getting me to look like this. She really had to cake it on. I was waiting for her to pull out a pallet knife or a trowel or something. My face feels an extra three inches thick right now. Would it be rude to ask them to wash this crap off before they close the box?! I hate to think of spending eternity with this much whore paint on my face.
Must be getting close to service time. I think I hear the organ starting to play. I hope they got Edie to play this thing. I never liked Sandra. Nice woman but she plays everything at one speed and one volume. Slow and loud.
I wonder what they picked out for a menu for the lunch when this thing is over. I told David I wanted the lunch to be held at that nice bistro near the cemetery. We held John’s luncheon there. They do such a nice job and the food is wonderful. If that Melissa had her way, I bet I would get cold cut sandwiches and salads in the basement. God, can you imagine?! Those big ugly coffee urns. People eating on disposable plates. And bars as far as the eye can see. I would be mortified. I’m sure my David selected the plated menu and not that ridiculous family style nonsense. So tacky. My niece did that at Ted’s funeral. But then my brother-in-law never met a plate of food too big. Never understood what Lois saw in him. She always was the eccentric one in the family. I thought my mother was going to have a stroke when she announced she was going on that mission trip to South America. Didn’t speak a word of Spanish. Those people usually help build things or teach people something. She had no skills whatsoever. But she did it. Two years later she came home madly in love with that Jose. No, Juan. Wasn’t that his name?! Roberto. His name was Roberto. She sent him the money to travel to our hometown and never heard from him again. She was devastated. Until she met that Polish foreign exchange student a few weeks later, when she started college. Always loved that about Lois; she was a free spirit.
Here comes the Reverend. Oh come on! They got Reverend Tom?! The man has a speech impediment and a lazy eye. I specifically requested Reverend Mark. What is Reverend Tom even wearing?! Are those chinos?! Did he decide to phone this one in? Nope, that’s fine Reverend. Not a big deal today. Just sending me off to meet my maker here. No reason to dress for the occasion. Wait. Hold on. Oh he’s just here to pay his respects. Thank goodness! Hey, watch the spitting on the blessing there guy!
It’s getting quiet in here. Here come the last goodbyes. My sweet David. My first born. I love you my dear boy. The cards you made me on Mother’s Day out of construction paper. Misspelled words scribbled in crayon. Oh give it a rest Melissa! With the fake sniffles and the dabbing with the hankie. Where did she even find a hankie?! Seriously, how flipping pretentious. And my darling girl. Carolyn. Courage now, honey. I will miss your beautiful smile and hearing your wonderful laugh. I am so proud of the remarkable woman you have become. Remember me well, my love.
Here it comes, the part I’ve truly been dreading. They’re going to close the lid on this hideous cheap box now. Which means I get to spend the next hour, laying here. In the dark. They could at least leave the lid open through the eulogy. How in the world am I supposed to hear it with the lid closed? And all this cheap polyester lining is going to muffle the sound. Because I’m sure dear Melissa wouldn’t hear of springing for the more expensive lining. Was she wearing my grandmother’s broach when she came through here?! She better not have been. That was supposed to be Carolyn’s. Ach! Wow, that funeral director isn’t exactly shy about throwing that extra bit of lining right in my face. Nope, can’t hear a thing in here. Gosh, this is going to be boring. I guess I should probably try to get comfortable. That’s going to be difficult in this scratchy suit. At least I can hear the hymns. They definitely got Sandra. Bet they’d all freak out if I started singing along.