Funereal Fashion

After leaving the funeral home, I had to consider the next thing I never considered; funeral attire. Thank goodness my SIL thought to have my brother ask me.

I had plenty of black tops because New York/Music/Rebel black-is-slimming has been my legitimate style. So much so, that when I moved to Nashville, someone finally asked me if I ever wore anything but black. “Oh, yeah,” I’d said. “Navy blue and brown. Sometimes gray!”

Tennessee brought other colors into my wardrobe. Michigan helped with that, as well. There was a problem with my new palates, though. I no longer owned any black pants.

I was never fond of shopping to begin with. If I end up in a store it’s usually because I am looking for a specific item. Or it’s Kohls because they sent me a $10 coupon and a 30% off flyer sticker and a new clearance shirt is never a bad purchase.

But, luckily, that day I was numb and it was Sears, in the mall, because we were driving by it anyway. I wasn’t expecting much luck or fashion at size 24. Amazingly enough, the dowdy plus size section had plenty of black pants options.

I grabbed three pair, tried them on, took the least offensive and was ready to go. That was the day I earned a new moniker from my brother.  “You’re like a Ninja Shopper!” he exclaimed.

That made me laugh. Jeff shared the same observation but not with a title. To Jeff Lowe’s and Walmart were like exhibit changing museums to be indepthly explored, each and every visit. “Slow down,” he’d call from his cart. “We might miss something!”

I’m a fast shopper, unless it’s an antique store or a flea market.  I have almost endless patience for those. But, I’m also usually hoping to take home a salt-chicken. Or two, if there’re two to be found.

I had a fairly dressy black shirt, fairly fitted, point-collared and pinstriped. I thought nothing of it, at the time. Later, when I was willing some of my 20’s weight-loss wardrobe to a friend, I pulled it from the back of the closet and gave that away, too.

Even later, as in late-2019, I was jotting down outline notes, when it occurred to me.

The blouse I wore was black, of course.

Detailed with finely dispersed, shimmering gold pinstripes.

Unintentionally, black and gold. Which were, intentionally, our wedding colors.

Quote for the Week: 2020 04 28 sticking with what you know jakorte

 

Then and Still

 

The others whom Jeff left behind supported and needed support. Each at the table had at least two dedicated decades of love; some had the full 42.

I was acutely aware I was the one with the least of his lease on life.

In my mind, then and still, the foundations of long-standing years made their loss more severe. I imagined, then and still, the burden of that type of pain surely surpassed mine.

My heart hurt, then and still, for all who had the fortune of Jeff, longer. I only had him for 8 and I was lost.  If I had had him just a moment longer, I would have hurt one more moment worse.

Somehow, some things were already settled. I wasn’t aware of anyone else’s desires, nor did I ask.

My insistence on cremation was the echo of Jeff’s desire. I didn’t want that or not want that. It was what he wanted; therefore, honor worthy.

Surrounded by an invisible buffer, pressurized, cocooned in an observationist air pocket, though not physically isolated, I felt alone. And that was not a reflection of anyone present.

In my seat, I was alone. In my specific type of grief born of my specific role, I was alone. I was just as alone as the other roles represented that morning. None of our grief was the same; couldn’t be, shouldn’t be, would never be.

When we got down to business, the first task was verbally gathering family history and personal information – the sort you need for an obituary.

I was immensely grateful my brother took over proof-reading and corrections. Multiple re-writes and edits later, I felt a bit bad for the funeral planner kid. Which isn’t a derogatory statement. He was young; 20’s-ish.

Whenever asked a decision-required question, Jeff’s father would, in turn, ask it of me. Though deferred to, my choices considered heritage.

Like purposefully choosing the funeral pamphlet featuring a semi-silhouetted blue-hued barn, silo, and field. There couldn’t have been any other choice worth considering.

Quote for the Week: 2020 02 18 Unless we allow others the opportunity to prove jakorte

 

 

 

to be happy with the memory

 

when the barriers say “don’t go there.”
when the filters don’t make it better.
when cold morning colors hard stop the norm.
when the wind denies still life capture.
when edits are not improvement.
when the shot delays arrival and it doesn’t matter.
this is the thing worth knowing –
time stopped for a reason, true and unknown,
sometime later, sometimes much, a slipped swipe
a thumb-hold too long, a scroll too far, percolates a path
for pictures, dropped from above, gathering thunderous steam
landslides lose landmarks, boulders block intentions,
revisits are hard to resist.
temptation to tamper that
which does not require change, for comfort
is unneeded. it’s just an accidental detour, a temporary stay
to be happy with the memory, only requires
the desire
to be.

Quote for the Week: 2020 02 04 finding formerly forgotten photos is one of life jakorte

 

 

familiar purrs and sleepy snorts

I am thankful I wasn’t there.

I don’t think I could have stood to see the indignities required.

Not that my imagination didn’t go there.

Still, I imagine it is best as an unsupported vision.

The real vision would have surely been far worse.

 

At the end of the day, or at least my end of the day with other people, I politely passed on so many sincere offers.

No, I don’t want to stay somewhere else tonight.

No, I don’t want anyone to stay with me, either.

No, I don’t want Sadie to go home with you.

No, I want Sadie here with me and Miss Fred.

No, thank you, I’m not hungry.

No, please do not order me food, even if you were going to order for yourself, anyway.

No, I don’t think I need anything.

No, no need to call me later.

No, I don’t want to call you later, either.

Ok, yes, I will call you if I need anything, but, no, I won’t need anything tonight.

I’ve lost the time between the fish sandwich and the goodbye questions; and the time between the goodbye questions and turning down the bed covers. I slept in our bed, on my usual side with Sadie and Fred.

Freddie took up her usual awkward spot on my knees. Sadie lay by my side as if she was still happily sandwiched in her regular space between Jeff and me.

“I know you won’t understand this,” I told them, scratching simultaneous circles on their heads. “But, it’s just us girls now.” Fred blinked, said something in her scraggly voice, took a turn and snuggled in. Sadie rolled over closer and uncharacteristically licked my chin.

I fell asleep surrounded by the warmth of beating hearts and the comforting rhythm of familiar purrs and soft sleepy snorts.

Quote for the Week: 2020 01 28 animals are acutely aware jakorte

Slightly Familiar & Fourth

 

Sometimes, if I move a certain way, it recalls the exact physical feeling; the act of turning away, turning my back on Jeff and the eerie finality of walking out our bedroom door.

I got as far as the dining room when the phone I amazingly still had in my grip, rang.

911 was calling me.

Apparently, I was supposed to stay on the line until it could be confirmed help had arrived. Until I was securely handed off to the next step.

I opened the door to find a man already standing in place, ready to move in, so I stepped back.

I registered the familiar face and was bit stupefied by that.

That and the fact that the situation had changed into something; moving, forward, fast.

With the screen door behind him and one foot inside our home, he said something official-sounding announcing he was who he was.

I don’t think I moved.

He told me his partner so-and-so had gone back to the ambulance for more equipment, then bent to grab what was already piled up on the porch.

I don’t think I said anything.

Which may have accounted for the curious look he glanced my way while straightening up.

When his focused eyes took me in, he actually sort-of smiled.

“I thought I recognized this address…” he said.

 

I couldn’t blame him for the almost grin. Jeff was a memorable rider, always joking. Even with acute pancreatitis.

Even the night that Nannee blew her airhorn. There was a lot of laughter that night. From everyone – Jeff, me, the crew of two. Nannee, as well.

This would be his fourth trip to our home.

 

“Yes.” I agreed with his observation.

A full beat passed before I added, “I can’t wake him up.”

“Where is he?”

“In bed.”

He glanced around.

I realized he was waiting for direction, so I led the way.

 

Quote for the Week: 2019 10 29 Adding a slightly familiar element to an unexpected jakorte

this is my truth

This is my truth. It’s complicated. It’s sequential. It’s simultaneous.

There is no straight path from here.

There is no ‘succinctly’ about it.

Understand there’s going to be temptation to argue it with me. Please don’t.

We could discuss it, but you’re only going to frustrate yourself.

I’ve lived this story-line. I know it how went for me, how it must go forward for you, and how hard it’s going to be for all of us.

I’m not saying you’re going to be wrong from where you’re looking on.

I’ve said it before. Bear with my repeat.

Scientifically, you cannot stand next to me and see the exact same thing.

Your angle affects your impression: size, shape, color, shadows.

Your history affects your perception.

Combined memories can be conflicting.

Every breathing minute moves me away from that one.

Details don’t dim. Everything around expands.

Moments get wider, more complex, more disturbing, circularly clearer, oddly uplifting, occasionally somewhat strangely amusing.

Some, by the Grace of God, will remain blessedly unresolved.

At least, until we all get where we’re going.

Quote for the Week:2019 09 02 cross over seasons can be doubly beautiful jakorte

 

 

 

 

Music to His Ears

I didn’t have to listen to AC/DC the entire drive

I don’t dislike AC/DC. The manic mouthiness is a little too raucous for early morning deer-watch drives. Absolutely, better suited to starting off a party right, then keeping you awake on a midnight swoop home.

On M-50, just outside of Tecumseh, Jeff nodded off.

Not unexpected, although that usually didn’t happen until Jackson. I made sure he was solidly snoozing, before I flipped the station, and commenced with a self-indulgent, quiet little country music sing-along.

Jeff shifted, sort of snorted, then settled down, again.

An hour and some later, at the end of the exit ramp in Lansing, I clicked the radio off, and nudged him. “Hey, wake-up,” I tickled his chin.

Jeff lifted his head as I turned the corner, checked his bearings, then turned to me and smiled. “I like listening to you sing,” he stated, sincerely.

The thing is – I can’t sing.

Evidence:

In 8th grade, it was strongly suggested choir might not be my best elective.

In summer theatre, I was given a silent part in Godspell – you know, a mime.

Admittedly,  I endlessly played each new vinyl record (yep, I’m that old) over and over trying to perfect a lyrical breath or catch an unusual beat-part. At some point, my father would reach a breaking point and yell down the stairs for me to stop singing. I always did. Except, for that one time, I decided to hum along. He told me to stop humming, because that as off-key, too.

I can’t explain Jeff’s enthusiasm for my voice, but that’s the kind of thing love does to a person. He once compared my weird warble to the angelic lilt of Alison Krauss.

I told him he was horribly mistaken, but isn’t it sweet how love can taint your ears?

Quote for the Week: 2019 07 30 LOVE hears your song jakorte