my grave…

my tombstone

Originally uploaded by jayfherron.

” Sunset and evening star ,and one clear call for me.
May there be no mourning at the bar when I am put to sea”

I worked in several funeral homes in the early 1970’s and I attended so many funerals and heard so many ministers and preachers and priests bring up that poem that I could lip sync it knowing it by memory from hearing it so often.
I went to work in mortuary service when I was 21-a job I sought out to learn what happened in the embalming room to repair my baby brothers body-a desire I had carried on from seeing Mr.Hoke (a neighbor my friend and I saw shoot him self,we were just boys) having seen the damage to his head-and then later in the week seeing him as he usually was and the head wound gone. I learned enough and after four years that desire was behind me-I had seen up near a thousand human remains in different orders of death and that was enough for me to see death is not a respector of persons.
Around the later part of the 70’s a friend of mine got sick and he was told he had cancer-a young guy my age,we were in our mid thirtys. Big Mike refused treatment-he said he wanted to take what was given him and deal with it as a man and not falsely stretched out to a longer misery by the use of chemicals.
Big Mike earned that name-he was a giant of a man,but sweet and never had I heard a laugh like that man had. I cleaned up his body the day he died- the final task to help out a friend so he could look fairly respectable as we carried him out the door.
Death and everything about it does not have me scared. I lived above a funeral home in Jacksonville-the casket show room was just across the hall and the embalming room on the other side of that….folks laid out in parlors downstairs,sometimes-sometimes not.
There was often times humor there,and boy in other times I saw grief beyond description and death in ways that horror movies cannot equal with special effects. So the whole point of that….death don’t
much bother me,I’ve written that I faced it in more ways then one-seeing the real peace in it-but also seeing the whole picture,no-death is not what we all think.
A couple of years ago I started making caskets for poorer folks who have a loss-and have no money….it had actually started out to provide them for homeless people who turn up dead,but that was not an obtainable goal-so I have given them to a funeral home to keep aside for when someone with little or nothing comes along they can have a nice coffin.
There was an old man named Bill who I came to know-he had cancer,fought it with a brave spirit-stayed away from the drugs and chemicals and accepted the facts. At his request I made him a coffin-Bill and I loved each other like a father and son should-but I always saw it so odd because his son lives right here near by and Bill showed more affection towards me than he did his own son-()his son is my sons father-in-law). Every time I saw Bill he’d grab me and hug me and treated with such love,he and his wife Pat.
I always thought of how ironic this was-there was his son and they hardly spoke…and me. Then theres my own father and we hardly speak,and it was so strange to me hjow this was so mixed up-and why was this so?
Once my brother came to visit-it was just him and I can’t remember the occasion but I believe he stayed over night and we had gone out to the truck stop for breakfast and the truck stop is near the cemetery I am going to be buried at so I wanted to how my brother my grave marker-and we went there ( he did’nt know my grave was there) and as we walked up to it and he saw the tombstone he reacted like he had just seen a rattlesnake and turned away and never looked at my grave stone. He told me can go all around the cemetery-but he did not want to see something that was marking my grave.
My brother made some angry remarks responding to my recent writing-the 200 dollar hangover story.
My brother does not know what is in my heart-he does not understand my own grief and how I can face the deaths of many people but cannot face the death of my own father.
My brother does not know how the pain of my fathers suffering-silently…is eating me up and like my brother not being able to see my grave I cannot see the illness of my father eating him up.
A year ago crixmix ( Christmas to the lay folk who do not know how much I hate the crixmix pattern of celebrating a God who I cherish) my mother called and told me how my father and her were going to a crixmix gathering for some man who worked at the local grocery store-and my dad had only a month before gotten out of hospital from major gut surgery…and on this raining crixmix night my elderly folks-dad still healing from his surgery,go out in the rain in the car to find the crixmix party. They did-had a crash doing it,which no one ever reported-and the way my mother was telling this story was like someone had takek a butcher knife and was gutting me…she told me they found the house-and they decided not to stay,a little panic stricken from the crash-the hit and run crash….and my dad was going in the house to say merry crixmix,and they were going to go. But-dad fell and instead of going into the house he sat in the rain for 30 or 40 minutes,he could’nt get up-someone found him there.
As my mother was telling me this I could not keep from crying-as a matter of fact I had to hang up on her because the story was so painful to hear and the vision of my dad sitting on the street holding my nearly dead baby brother kept going through my head back and forth seeing him sitting there with in the street with Carl in his arms and then seeing him sitting in the street in the rain a sick old man.
Some years ago there was a song by a group called ‘Mike and the Mechanics’ called ‘In the Living Years’. The song was sung as a son would sing it and it was about his regrets that he did’nt say how he loved his father while his father was alive and how he wished he could do it-have that chance again. I was about 32 or 33 then…and I drove to my parents and asked my dad to go into another room so we could talk,I wanted to tell him that I loved him. Our relationship had always been strained-we hardly spoke.
The day Carl-my baby brother-was killed my father came home from the hospital and my mother was laying on the sofa…my father grabbed her up and they wept. It was the only time in my life I realized my father loved us-seeing that.
My brother Joe made comments yesterday out f anger-love turns to anger when one has no idea what the others silence might mean. I hate seeing my parents slipping away into old age and feeble knees and dead hearing and shuffled paces as they try to walk-and seeing my father ill,and seeing the day will come that my having a part in his life will be gone forever….losing the ever wanted opportunity for understand of what all happened to fuck my life up.
I’m sorry I’m not doing what you want me to do!
Bring back the ever gone years of how many times I telephoned and everytime he heard my voice he turned the phone over to my mother-lasting in the never talking to his son mode….and change them for me.
I’m sorry that seeing the interaction between my side of being a son and the other side of being a son where my brother is has broken me to the point I need to step aside….kind of like Esau and Jacob when Jacob stepped aside-pretty much,as the story goes. (these are brothers in the old testament-Bible).
When Carl was killed I had to grieve alone,just like when my sister JoEileen died,I saw her carried out of the house when she got sick-I saw her in the casket-I saw her last as the funeral drove by my grandparents house on Beech Street in Pottstown,her casket covered in flowers…but no explaination where my sister had gone from there on out.
.And I am grieveing now,alone…pretty much as its always been.

One Response to “my grave…”

  1. truckerswife Says:

    Wow you have seen your share of death, me personally I don’t want anything to do with it, and I am terrified of it, but hey that’s life.

    Also thatnks for the wonderful comments you always leave, it makes me wanna write more.

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