This morning I bought my father what may be the ultimate birthday a present – a headstone.
Today would have been his 91st birthday. He died in 1995, never reaching 65 years of age. My mother opted to keep his cremated remains on her bedroom dresser. Among her last words to my brother before she died last October were, “Don’t forget to get your father.”
Ted did not forget.
Last week Ted selected a burial lot at Riverside Cemetery in North Reading. Today I selected and designed a memorial marker. On May 1 we will gather with our sister and family members and bury Mum and Dad.
I’ve had more than 26 years to be used to fact that my Dad is gone but am struggling with my Mum’s death. She was ill for several months before she died and it was tough to see her fail. She was missing my Dad and ready in many ways to go and be with him but obviously not yet ready to let go of a few things that were not settled in her heart.
I miss her the most when I’m driving my car. That was when I called her. She’d talk me to my destination. I always called when I was on the way to a wedding and again on the way home. She wanted to hear all the details about the couple, their ceremony, the beautiful dresses and flowers, handsome gentlemen and lovey ladies. She wanted to hear about the quirky things that always go down at a wedding, the miscues and surprises, and the on-the-fly changes that smoothed out the rough edges.
I know my Mum and Dad are together, safe in each other’s company. I know she is surrounded by people who waited patiently for her to get to there – her granddaughter, her parents and her sister.
As I’m writing this I hear music coming from the other room. James Taylor’s “Never Die Young”
“I guess it had to happen someday soon- wasn’t nothing to hold them down.
They would rise from among us like a big balloon, take the sky, forsake the ground.
Oh, yes, other hearts were broken, yeah, other dreams ran dry,
but our golden ones sail on, sail on to another land beneath another sky.”
And my Dad would say, “Sit down, I can’t see the mark.”