by Marinka on December 28, 2009

Mama and Papa had some words recently.

You see, they were at the dacha and papa was lifting weights.  Lifting weights is important to keep in shape and improve muscle mass and general appearance. I know this because papa tells me frequently.

So, Papa is lifting weights to improve muscle mass and general appearance and looking out the window at the beautiful Catskills mountains.  And then he looks out on their lawn and he sees his favorite tree.  We know that it is his favorite tree because he has told us that after he’s dead and cremated (this is important, he does not want to be cremated while he is still alive), he wants his ashes to be scattered near that tree.  But only when the wind is blowing southeast, because then his ashes will be scattered on his neighbor-nemesis’ property.  And that will give him post-mortem joy.  To know that he got the last word in their property dispute.

So Papa sees the tree and feels at peace, except OH NO!  He doesn’t know what Mama wants done with her ashes.

He asks Mama.  “What should I do with your ashes when you’re cremated?”  Apparently, this passes for small talk among the geriatrics.

Now, Mama, at that very moment, is enjoying a wonderful mood because she is having her morning cup of coffee and reading a book by Jon Katz, who has adorable stories about doggies that she loves so much. Mama says that Jon Katz  is a wonderful person and that he understands a dog’s soul. I don’t know how much money you’d have to pay me to read a book like that, but I’m pretty certain that in this economy you can’t afford it.

Mama doesn’t want to talk to Papa about her ashes.

“Do I have to decide this now?” she asks.

“Yes, immediately,” Papa says. Because he cannot enjoy improving muscle mass and appearance if the ash issue is unresolved.

“Okay,” Mama agrees, “I want to be under the tree, too, but in a little box.”

Papa resumes improving muscle mass and appearance, but then Mama changes her mind.

“Actually,” she says. “I want half of my ashes to go to Russia, to my sister.”

Papa pauses.  This is complication.

“I don’t want to be responsible for ash division,” he tells Mama. “If your sister want ashes, your sister must come here to get ashes.”

Mama doesn’t say anything, but wonderful mood has been ruined.  Maybe forever.

One year ago ...

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

December 28, 2009 at 1:06 pm

it’s so romantic that mama wants to be with him at his fav tree. my parents have yet to decide where they want their ashes placed. the conversation might make some people uncomfortable, but i am morbid by nature, so it doesn’t bother me. i would like to keep them both on my mantle in separate vases, and have joint custody with my sister. then when i look at the mantle, i will hear my mother criticizing me and my father cracking dirty jokes, and all will be right with the world. take care.


Momo Fali
December 28, 2009 at 1:26 pm

Even Jon Katz can’t fix this.


December 28, 2009 at 1:48 pm

Who knew cremation could be such an incendiary issue?


December 28, 2009 at 2:34 pm

My parents also have this argument regularly (although not in nearly as endearing of a way as Mama and Papa).

Theirs goes as such: My mom wants to be buried in Shalom Memorial, the local Jewish cemetery. My father, having been surrounded by Jews all his life, does not want to do so in eternal slumber, and, to make matters worse, says that he would like an Orthodox cross on his tombstone. My mom subsequently blames him for the Holocaust and says that she will not spend the Great Beyond with an anti-Semite with a tombstone cross and instructs me not to take care of my dad’s grave. It is no wonder, I too, have started to think recently about death.


Heather (qtberryhead) December 28, 2009 at 3:14 pm

Can I adopt your Mama and Papa? I think I would be willing to pay you enough to read a Jon Katz book in order to witness a conversation like this.


December 28, 2009 at 4:49 pm

I’m on Papa’s side this time. I would not want to have to divide the ashes either. There’d be some complaint that one person got more than the other and it would never be resolved.

Or, worse yet, he’d be dividing the ashes outside and the wind would scatter part of Mama onto the barbecue and she’d haunt him forever for it.


Meadowlark December 28, 2009 at 5:25 pm

I’m still trying to convince Husband to divide my ashes into nifty tiny glass vials that can double as necklaces and then he and the kids can each have one and wear it whenever they take a neat trip to somewhere I’d want to go.

They’re not really going for this idea. Probably no surprise to the rest of you.


December 28, 2009 at 5:34 pm

surely, i am not the first to spot this irony, but i cannot resist the pun: a man named katz writing about dogz?


Beth December 28, 2009 at 8:14 pm

Wow. And I thought this crazy talk only happened in my family. My grandparents have been arguing over where they are going to be buried for years now. In fact, they have two sets of plots purchased. The last I heard, however dies first gets to be buried in their plot of choice. I assume that the one remaining is really the one who decides.

Old people can be so funny.


Ann's Rants December 28, 2009 at 9:22 pm

This was very Merchant Ivory.


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