Mama wants me to come on down to Houston and go coffin shoppin’ with her. Again.
I don’t remember when this fascination with fatality began, but I do recall it started somewhere around the time she started referring to herself in the third person, i.e., “Mama doesn’t like it when you wear short skirts,” or “Mama doesn’t like it when you spit on the sidewalk,” or “Mama wants a margarita.”
Count me in for that one. Two if we’re going coffin shopping.
And my mother is no where near knockin’ on death’s door–my brother believes she’ll outlive all of us and he’s probably right–if only because she’s not finished planning her own funeral.
These pre-bereavement shopping sprees begin early in the morning, before the funeral homes open, so that we can stop and have a nice big breakfast and discuss the details of who she wants invited to her funeral, who she doesn’t and why, who she’s going to cut out of the will this week, and of course, discuss what music will be played or sung, and who will be doing the playing or singing.
Then it’s off to Macy’s to try on clothes that she wants to be buried in. The style and color changes from season to season, and includes a pair of new shoes, which seems moot to me, because even in an open-casket funeral (which it will be) you can’t see the lower half of the body, and I mentioned this to Mama.
She stared at me. “You’re not going to bury me barefoot are you?”
And then it’s off to the coffin shop, where she pauses reverently before each one, imagining which would best compliment her complection.
She discusses the way the whole affair is to be scored and choreographed for maximum bereavement.
“I want the saddest songs we can find and I don’t want Aunt Eveline singing, or anywhere near my casket, and oh, by the way, do you think this casket will make me look fat?”
And then we’re on to me, and what I will wear to her funeral, and how upon her death, I should instruct her attending physician to cut her heart out to see how many pieces we children have broken it into.
“Hm,” I finally said. “Should we get some new mascara for me, the kind that runs like a Baptist preacher’s wife and drips all down my face so everyone can see how sad I am?”
“Oh,” Mama said. “Yes, lets!”