Free Fallin’ Friday

22 05 2009


So yesterday I tried an experiment.  There is so much traffic  flowing by this house each day, I thought it was worth the risk after Goodwill rejected the potentially dangerous “pack and play”.  Anything that I don’t have to pay someone to haul – is a good thing.  Sure enough, within the hour as we were sitting in the late afternoon shadows someone stopped.  I even explained how it works so my conscious is clean and I even pointed out the spot that Billy had repaired.

All night long I thought about what else I could put out there today.  I wanted to turn the house inside out like a dollhouse – and give it all up for grabs.  We are calling them Freecyle Fridays now.  Today’s victim was a metal patio table with the hole in the middle for an umbrella.  The umbrella in the garage isn’t the one that goes with it even though she was convinced it was.  No amount of magic was going to get that pole in a hole that was too small for it.  “Okay get rid of the table…but keep the umbrella.”  Thank GOD!!!

It’s been a long three days.  I’ve gotten lots done but there are moments of despair.  There is no way around this but through it and each baby step counts.

A friend of her’s from church died earlier in the week.  Tomorrow was supposed to be the day we go to the cemetary to “clean” but the funeral is in the morning and that would be too much for her.  So before the cut & perm I had scheduled on her behalf today, I drove her out to do the grave thing.  I had been out earlier in the morning and knew what had to be done so I had everything I needed in the car.

As we were getting out of the car, she lamented that she didn’t have a little American flag to put on Billy’s grave for Memorial Day.  “Like this one?” – I had stopped and gotten one before I loaded her into the car…

When we got to the headstone she noticed what I knew was there – bird poop on Billy’s head – well at least dribbling down his name.  I had a gallon of soapy water and a rag to take care of that.  And we laughed that of all the open space that they could have aimed…it landed not just on Billy’s head but the McNiece family common gravestone too.  So they both got a quick wash and buff.

I never thought about Memorial Day much before.  She was telling me on the way out that as a little girl in Bemidji it was day that they really got excited about…especially because her maternal grandfather was a Civil War vet and there was all kinds of music and hoopla that went with decorating the graves with little flags.

So I am feeling all American and good about freecyclin’, cleaning up the headstones and Free Fallin’.  And who could be more American than Tom Petty? 

marking time

29 04 2009

IMG_3988.JPGFirst time visitors to Billy’s breezeway are always taken back by the sight of two headstones – both from 1863 marking two deaths in one family less than 10 days apart – a father and a daughter.  I don’t know their stories but I have this sneaking suspicion that I will soon enough – either real or imagined…the stuff of stories and novels.

IMG_3989.JPGRight now we are working on another marker of someone who’s story we did know well.  The walkways that lead to the main doors of the hospice center where Billy spent his last two weeks are paved with inscribed bricks that serve as mini-markers to the pain and loss of hundreds of families.  It was one of the things the Mrs. wanted to be sure to do before time moves on.

Now that we are facing Spring and the formal headstone at the cemetery is set – she wants to get this one done too.  As I went over to hospice last week to review the kinds of words people had used to honor their loved ones – I needed something more.  Something that was more Billy – “2good2B4gotten” just doesn’t cut it.

I’m not planning a public vote on this – but I would appreciate your feedback.  I’m not even sure we can get it all to fit but I wondered about a quote by one of the Mrs.’ favorite authors – George MacDonald.   

Love is the opener as well as the closer of eyes.

Something that speaks to how he lived and died and an intrinsic value he held all those days he walked here between those two markers.  What think thee?


grave blankets?

18 12 2008

“Oh good, you’re here.  I was just about to go to Remus Farms and get a grave blanket.  I got this coupon out of the paper.”

I hadn’t even closed the door behind me.  My mind reeling trying to add up the words to form a picture – grave + blanket.  The day after I left last week she got word that the headstone had been set.  I really didn’t expect to hear before Spring.  But it was an early Christmas gift of sorts.  Needless to say, she was anxious to see the real deal and know that their spot is carved out with no uncertainty as to where they are parked!

She gives me directions to the fruit stand/farm market and I’m delighted to know it is about 20 minutes away.  We get to the intersection of where she expects it to be…and Remus is NOT the name on the sign. Luckily she had jotted their phone number on the coupon that was going to get her a free poinsettia with the purchase of the grave blanket.  We weren’t too far off track – just had to cross the road into the next county.

We were directed to the back of the mostly empty farm stand to the display of blankets.  The best description of what I saw is a mound of evergreens about six feet long properly bedazzled for the season with a price tag of some $75. “Mom, you know he’s not cold right?”    

More investigation led us to see the pillows, baby pillows and wreaths. WHAT?  I got the wreaths but the evergreen poofs with big huge bows on the top???  Not buying it. But what do I know about grave decor.

It was totally her call.  She had brought along a stash of cash she’d been hiding from my dad for who knows how long.  No expense was to be spared. She kept talking out loud about which one she thought my dad would like all the while I was screaming inside that I thought he’d “Bah, humbug!” all of them.

Slowly but surely we determined that too much flash was not Billy’s vibe.  So a simple wreath was her choice because the plaid bow that made it all so Celtic to her.img_38203

By the time we got back cross-county the sun was hanging low in the sky. The stone was totally covered by snow and even brushing it off left the engraving filled.  It struck me as we stood there what a perfect place this was to lay him to rest – he is still doing one of his favorite things even in death…sitting out watching the cars and trucks go by on the highway as the sun goes down.