People who know me well are acquainted with the fact that I don’t care much what people think of me. This has made my family wary of being seen with me in public on occasion.
My husband is ultra conservative. He often gives me lectures on what he considers my flamboyant dress. He once tried to tell me I could not be seen at church in a silk skirt that had four-inch fringe on the hem.
Another time when I wore black ankle hugging pants plastered with huge white flowers he tried to sit at a table in the back of the gym where I couldn’t see him. Like our friends for twenty years wouldn’t know we were a couple!
I suppose that is why he is the Bishop and I am not. I am now however aware that in one area at least, I am immensely conscious of people’s opinion. I came to this realization when Rick, Garret and I were driving home from a funeral. Garret, who’s mind is always computing ways to take two nickels and squeeze them into a 50 cent gold piece said. “I wonder how much that funeral cost.”
“I think they paid for the package several years ago. It would have cost a lot more today,” I said.
Notice my rational response? In normal families, the conversation would have turned to the benefit of pre-planning your funeral. But nope, not in ours. My husband who rarely has two words to say when we are in the car picks this moment to wax eloquent and with rare passion.
“I don’t want you to spend anything on a coffin for me Jane. It is such a waste of money. Just slap a couple of pieces of old plywood together.”
We have had this conversation before and I opened my mouth to object, as I always do, when I recognized the maniacal look his eyes get when some genius idea juices up his brain.
“In fact,” he burst out, “if there is an old refrigerator box lying around that’s even better. Yup that what I want, a refrigerator box. Heck of a lot cheaper than plywood.”
I don’t know if he has thought out the ramifications of people showing up for his funeral and finding him stuffed in a refrigerator box but I know it will not make me look good—even if I am wearing four inches of fringe on the bottom of my skirt.
“I will not stuff you in a refrigerator box Rick. I still have to live with these people you know. And don’t you even think of stuffing me in a box. I want a coffin. It doesn’t have to be Cadillac but at least make it presentable.”
“Dad’s right mom. Funerals are a ridiculous price.” Garret never knows when to mind his own business. “I don’t even need a cardboard box. Just throw me in the dumpster,” he said.
At that moment, I couldn’t help looking around to see if there was an empty dumpster nearby. “In fact, “Garret continued, “I’m good swimming with the fishes. It wouldn't bother me at all to be shark bait. I’ll be dead after all.”
“Stop it,” I said as Rick opened his mouth to espouse the virtues of the refrigerator boxes again. “I will not stand beside some old refrigerator box as people come to console me. They might be tempted to dump me in there with you. And Garret, you will not go dumpster diving. LET ME BE CLEAR. When I am gone I will be at your mercy but you will not put me in any box you just slapped together, cardboard or otherwise. You better show me some dignity.”
“You’ll be gone mom. You won’t know.”
“Well, that settles it. I am going shopping. I will find my own coffin. Not only that, I will put it at the foot of our bed and if people ask, I’ll tell them it’s a hope chest, and it will be. It will be a symbol of my hope that you will see fit to place me in it when the time comes. Do I need to dry some flowers too?”