Monday, March 8, 2004
Bucky was at the funeral home at ten in the morning. He was greeted by Garth Eckhardt and his father Jimmy.
"I think we've met," said Bucky to Jimmy as they walked into the office by the top of the stairs. "Didn't you come to take away our Grandma Dee from the Keswick nursing home?"
"I may have," said Jimmy. "When would that have been?" Bucky said he thought 1990, and Jimmy smiled quietly as he told Bucky he thought perhaps so. The two of them were soon deep in discussion, for although Yo's last requests to Sarah were not entirely unusual, they did entail some quick arrangements. Bucky told Jim about what Sarah had said last night; he had a sheet of notes he had been taking when he and Sarah spoke on the phone.
"Yes," said Jimmy, "You don't have to have your mother enbalmed, and we have caskets that are used for cremations. They aren't exactly plain pine boxes like in an old cowboy movie, but they're very suitable. The only thing is that if you want to have a laying out at home, you have to do it soon. It should have been today. A body that hasn't been enbalmed can only be kept a day or, at the most, two.
"That's the way the Observant Jews do it, you know. They begin to sit with the body as soon as the death occurs, and cremation is within the next twenty four hours. You can call your sister from here and speak with her about it. I can show you the cremation caskets, and you can call Sarah." That's just what they did. After they had looked over the cremation caskets, Bucky called Sarah. He told her there was a very nice casket, all of wood, specially made for cremating, and they would have to get their arrangements made that day--Monday--for a laying out the next day, Tuesday. They decided that the laying out would be from noon to seven thirty. The later hours would give people a chance to come to Bellview after work.
"OK, here's what we'll do," said Sarah. "You finish up there, then go up to Glyndon and call me from there. You can read me names and addresses from Yo's rolodex. I'll take half, and you take half, and we'll call all her friends and the family and let them know what's going on." Bucky told Sarah he'd have to go out to Carroll Lutheran Village to get Yo's rolodex, which he hadn't, late at night and tired as he and Pete were, thought to bring with them.
"Oh my god," said Sarah. "What else is still there?"
"Well, gosh, I don't know exactly," said Bucky. "Her computer, and all her papers from the last year. Oh Jeeze, her checkbook."
"You get all the important stuff out of that room now," said Sarah. "Then go to Bellview and call me. Can we put anything in the casket with her? She should at least have her rosary. I think she had a nice wooden one."
"OK," said Bucky. "I'll check with Jimmy, and then get the things we need."
Jimmy called the crematorium to check what could go with Yo. He thought a rosary would be allowable, espcially if the beads were wooden. Bucky and Jimmy went back to doing the paperwork, and Jimmy, as he was listing the fees for the various duties he would perform, mentioned that the family could view the cremation on Wednesday.
"We'd like to do that," said Bucky. "Or, at least I would. I'll ask everyone else what they think. But yes, put us down for that." Jim and Bucky went over the times and arrangements for taking Yo's casket to Bellview, and listing her death in the newspaper. Jimmy told Bucky that he would have to get some nice clothes in which to dress Yo. The last thing that needed to be done was to get Father to sign paperwork.
"And I need this back tomorrow, at the latest," said Jimmy. "It has to go to the crematorium for their paperwork, too." Bucky said he thought he could get it to Father that day. Their arrangements were soon done, and Bucky was on his way to Bellview, to call Father. When Bucky got to Bellview, the phone was ringing. It was Pete, who said he had thought he should be around to help, and Bucky was very glad to hear from him. Terrie and Alyssa were both feeling a bit sick, and had gone to work and school late. Pete had stayed with them, and then thought to call Bucky, first at home, then at Bellview.
"We have to have the laying out tomorrow," said Bucky. "We can't wait until Wednesday. So we have to call everyone and get this house ready today. But Yo's Rolodex is at Carroll Lutheran Village. And so are her nicer clothes. We need to take some of those to the funeral home."
"Well," said Pete, "I could do that. I could go to Carroll Lutheran Village and then come to Bellview. Then I could take the clothes to the funeral home."
"Oh wow," said Bucky, "That'd be great. That'd be a big help. In the meantime, I'll get Father, and then do some starting here." Bucky called Father, who readily agreed to come out to Bellview to sign the paperwork. While he was waiting for the Rolodex, Bucky called Loie, at work, to tell her what was happening.
"Then I better go home," said Loie, "And start calling our friends. That way you'll have more time to work on Yo's Rolodex. Do you know what time you'll be home? Should I get something for supper?"
"No," said Bucky, "I really don't know. Maybe catch as catch can?" Loie agreed that would be fine. Bucky had a thought, and looked through the den for a special something he wanted to include in Yo's casket, along with her rosary. He found Yo's reading Bible, with its old notes and bookmarks on the bookshelf, and put it out on the dining room table, hoping he'd remember to include it with the clothes and rosary. Pete arrived from Carroll Luthern Village with the Rolodex, the rosary and a selection of nice clothes. He and Bucky chose a white shirt blouse, a pair of black slacks and a white cardigan sweater with black piping as the burial clothes. Bucky did remember to put the Bible with the rest of the things.
Then Pete and Bucky plunged into the work with a will. Bucky was on the phone, calling Sarah to give her names and phone numbers, and calling Yo's friends to tell them what was happening. Dotty Hammond and Bobbie Forbes came over well before noon, and discussed flower arrangements.
"Sarah called us," said Mrs. Hammond. "We want to put the flowers in all the right places, so where do you think you'll have Yo laid out?" They all decided that the best place would be in the den, against the far window.
"Now," said Dotty, "Shall we make an arrangement for the casket?"
"Oh, no, thanks," said Bucky. "Sister Terrie called and said she had ordered a special bouquet for the casket. With orchids." That was specially appropriate, as Terrie, the house plant enthusiast, had some time before taken over the care of Yo's favorite plants, her orchids.
Bobbie and Dotty found some pretty vases and platters to use for flower arranging, and after making some mental notes, took themselves off to get to work. Pete worked like a stevedore, moving furniture, picking up outside, and vacuuming.
"Actually," Pete said to Bucky, "The house looks good. It's mostly just getting some things moved around."
"Oh yes," said Bucky, "Kinley did a good job of cleaning the last time she was here for a visit. That's a big help." Father arrived from downtown to sign papers, and brought with him sandwiches from Santoni's. He and the boys sat at the kitchen table for their lunch. When Bucky told him about the arrangements, Father said, "That sounds like a nice arrangement. A plain pine box, like the old days. I want to have that done, too."
"Well," said Bucky, "You'll have to have Pete build it. You can't really get a perfectly plain pine box." Pete shook his head at the thought, but Father said he wanted Pete to do it. Father returned to Abell Avenue after lunch. The boys worked all day, and were on and off the phone with Sarah, who was getting through a lot more calls than was Bucky, and with Amy and Kinley and so many people who were calling to offer help. Bucky ordered plates from Santonis market, and then found that Sarah, unable to get through on the phone to Bellview, had done the same.
"Well," Bucky said to Pete, "We'll just have plenty."
"That'll be just like a Yo party," said Pete. The phone calls and arranging work continued late into the afternoon.
Sarah spoke several times with Sister Amy and Kinley. They were both distressed at the thought that they wouldn't be able to attend the laying out the next day.
"But you have to use Yo's smudge stick and smudge the casket and the room," said Amy. She meant the special desert sage sticks she had made everyone for Christmas. "And we'll be there Wednesday and help with the memorial service and everything." The thought of a smudging in Amy's honor was a little consolation to her.
"Man, I'm really glad you took the day off, Pete," said Bucky. "You've got the place all ready." Pete had found the pavilion wedding cross he had made years ago, and set that up. He had arranged pictures in the den, cleared out furniture to make the space for the casket, and especially cleared off the front steps and porch. Pete left to take the casket items to the funeral home, and Bucky made a few last phone calls to relatives and friends far away; people who would not be able to come the next day, but who would want to know what had happened.
It was well after dark when Bucky let himself out, locked the front door, and all was ready for the next day.
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