Thursday, March 19, 2015

Unfinished Business

I am a bad son. My mother died almost three years ago and my dad last year and I still haven’t finalized their graveside markers. I’ve only been to visit the graves once. My sisters both have been many more times. The entire thing just creeps me out for some reason. Perhaps when I get older, I will feel differently. But, I had put it off long enough, so Paula met me over there today to finish things up.

When I walked in the office, the old familiar feelings of extreme discomfort returned. I noticed a display advertising a new “community” called the “eternity gardens” which featured finely trimmed walkways and park benches strategically placed along the way. There appeared to be some kind of sale going on because several of the premiere eternity gardens lots were marked as SOLD in big bold letters. Apparently, people are just dying to get into the place.

But soon, we were in the capable hands of a sales associate. My dad’s plaque would be provided by the Veterans Administration due to his service in the US Navy during World War II. There would be a cross in the middle. My mother’s plaque would be a little trickier. We were told that outside of her date of birth and date of death and her name, we would be limited to four descriptive words to summarize her life on this earth. They suggested, “Beloved Wife and Mother.”

Ok, she certainly was beloved, and no doubt was a fine wife and mother, but those four words together seemed almost comically incomplete. It would be like summarizing Albert Einstein’s life with, “Really Good With Numbers,” or eulogizing John Lennon with, “Fairly Decent Song Writer.”

No, “Beloved Wife and Mother” wasn’t going to cut it. But if not that, what? How was it possible to immortalize such a profoundly influential life in four words? Of course, almost immediately I began with the wise cracks.

“I’ve got one. How about Draw Back a Nub?

Paula then chimed in with, “I’ll Be John Brown.”

Of course, family members would be entertained by such a graveside reference, but others might wonder what was wrong with us. So, over the next few days we will try to come up with four words that properly capture her unique personality and provide the appropriate level of dignity.


I can’t help but wonder what Mom would make of all this. Would she be ticked that we haven’t done it already, or would she be appalled that we are making such a fuss? 

“Wild Woman of Winn’s”

“Give Money to Missions”

“Y'all Leave Douglas Alone”

Wise Woman, Faithful Friend”

This is going to be hard.