The Next Place
“Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours.”
─ Yogi Berra
My mother is residing in our guest bedroom for the time being. She isn’t there physically. Her ashes are there. I spritz a little of her favorite perfume in there every once in awhile. The smell reminds me of how special she was to me.
I never quite know how to say someone died. Do you say they passed? Passed what? Past their expiration date? Do you say they are departed like departing from a train station? I could say my mom kicked the bucket, but that seems too irreverent. My mother is dead – gone from this world as we knew her.
The truth is my mother has been gone for quite some time now. For the last few years she was a shell of her former self, and she was aware of that. She wanted to die. The quality of life was missing for her. It’s that darn modern medical technology that keeps people alive longer than some wish. When she died it wasn’t unexpected, but it was still sad. It makes you face your own mortality.
My father was her caregiver through her illness. He loved her and had endless patience – most of the time. My sister and her husband, who live nearby, were there every day to help. Now those are amazing people!
While I was growing up, my mother was my best friend. I could tell her anything. As we both got older, it was harder to maintain that closeness, but I always felt that special bond.
I was reminded of how fashionable she was as family members sorted through pictures for her memorial. Other things like her unique sense of humor, her love of dark chocolate, and her intense pride of her Irish heritage came up in family conversations. Little things we found as we went through her belongings made us laugh and made us cry. We had button necklace day, hat day, belt day, and adorned ourselves with her stash of funky jewelry. It was our quirky way of dealing with our loss.
With the death of my mother, my family did what she would have wanted us to do. We celebrated her life with a proper Irish funeral.
We did her proud!
Soon my mother’s ashes will depart from my guest bedroom, but I know right now she’s in a better place – the next place.
There is a book called The Next Place by Warren Hanson. It’s a beautiful book that celebrates life.
My mother’s life is one worth celebrating. To my mother! To life!
Now, what do I do with all her dentures I keep finding around my parent’s house?