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My mother would buy a coffin if it were a "today's special" on the Home Shopping Network. Being an avid bargain-hunter, whether or not she could put said bargain to use, my mother couldn't resist a deal. I expected any one of my trips home to be the visit where I would be greeted by a giant wooden box in the foyer, while my mom joyfully exclaimed, "I got the deal of the year on this! Someone will use it, you all will thank me later."
I ran this by her once, and she didn't even flinch.
"Everyone in this family is getting cremated as far as I'm concerned. Now...if they run a special on urns, that's a different story," she said without expression.
A cold chill ran through me as I hoped she meant cremation post-death, and not any sooner. We call my mother, 'Pull the Plug McGee.' She wants to be called 'Don't Even Plug it in McGee.' Our family has had too many near death experiences to take death very seriously anymore. My mother, and really all of my family, would prefer not to have heroic measures to save our lives if the prognosis for recovery is grim. What started initially as a joke regarding all the medical things we didn't want to save our lives, and how soon we wanted our life support off became a bit of a family concern when my mom chimed in. Marcella Johnson would always go a little further than the rest of us on the joke, and an untrained ear might have heard the initial stages of a plot, or at least a fantasy. It was concerning enough for my father to change my mom as his decision-making health care agent to me for a while. He said it was because I work in healthcare, but do you believe him? She had the bad habit of saying "whatta wonderful way to go," when she heard of the sudden death of a relative, or friend of the family. In her defense, she said this because she didn't like the idea of anyone suffering, but it came out like she was getting a kickback from fatalities. She celebrated their rapid departure first, and then remembered that she should offer condolences.
Without my knowledge, the decision was made for me to write the eulogy for my grandmother who is still very much alive. I had a stay at home mom, but if she ever decided to test her stride in the workplace, my idea was for her to be a funeral planner. While some women love weddings and all their details, my mom is completely bored and annoyed by all things wedding. Conversely, nothing peaks my mother's attention more than a well organized, well-planned memorial service. She is truly moved by a tasteful funeral, and sends her unusual praise to whomever put the event together. Whenever someone is admitted to the hospital in our family, my mom puts on her funeral-planning head-set and gets to work.
My grandmother's admission to the hospital after a fall on the stairs, was what sparked the talk of my writing my grandmother's eulogy. She was doing well, and wasn't expected to stay in the hospital very long, but my mother was certain that we couldn't be too prepared. I explained to my mother that I certainly wouldn't write a eulogy in a normal way, and really I'm not even certain how a eulogy is supposed to be written. I told her that it was difficult for me to write about my grandmother being gone, but that I would do a draft of ideas so that the Simmons side of the family could find someone else to do it if they didn't like it. I read what I had finished to my mother yesterday, and she was thrilled.
"You should read it to her!" She exclaimed.
"Come again, mom?"
"Well who ever gets to hear their own eulogy? She'd LOVE it! OOOhhh...write mine!" she said to me as if I were drawing caricatures.
I was going to let that pile right on top of the things my mother says that I ignore, but then I realized, she's right. Who does get to hear their own eulogy? My grandmother is an amazing woman who lead an amazing life. She treated people well through her own struggles and hardships. She baked cakes, and sewed dresses, and read bedtime stories, but that woman was calvary material! She was a prize-fighter for all the ways life came at her and she kept doing rounds, and kept winning rounds. She deserves to know now about it. The world deserves to know about it.