I'd hoped cremation would avoid this.
"But we wouldn't want a mixup
with the ashes," he said. At least
and he wasn't an unctuous hand-rubber
in a too-black suit. The chairs were
just shy of comfortable, magazines
about travel) were strewn on low tables:
the look of a Holiday Inn lobby.
A hallway. A room with three caskets. The guy
was polite, serious: "The
one on the right."
We walked over, my mother and I, anything
but at ease. The head slowly came
over the wooden edge: a head full of white hair,
a narrow, bony face, and
. . . a beard?
I'd expected a vast, sad change, but could this
be my brown-haired, portly,
The guy saw puzzlement in our eyes, looked down
at the false-leather folder
he carried. "Oh,
Lord, " he said -- not loud, but you could hear
the shame in his voice. "It's
Even more hesitant now, we followed, looked,
stood, signed papers, while
the boss babbled apologies.
Nearly the last thing Dad said to me was,
"That's another story." Tale-lover,
the crowd, he'd have dined out on this one for months,
What I miss most
about him, almost,
is his deft way with a punchline.