You could see Grandma’s box; it was so weird

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Sarcastic Converse

It’s been a long time time since we’ve cracked open Cardiogirl’s teen journal, hasn’t it? Yes, it has. It looks like it’s been almost six months.

So I was 16 when I wrote this. I was also blunt and tactless, it seems.

May 11, 1984

They called about the flowers today and we said, “It’s too late honey, he’s six feet under.” Everyone at the funeral was as prissy as can be, I just sat around and stared at Grandpa.

I guess he looked pretty good. Better than the last time I saw him.

We even got to see where he was buried; the hole was dug and you could see Grandma’s box on the side and the ends of the other boxes. It was weird. Then Mom went to see Grandpa and Grandma H.

Man you know you’re desperate when you’re sitting home on a Friday night watching “Walt Disney” with the folks. Oh well.

Four more days of Driver’s Ed. It’s about time.

Well I can’t think of anything else to say so bye.

Deciphering this journal entry is like working an Agatha Christie murder. I can see Hercule Poirot pacing across the room with his hands clasped behind his back.

“We can surmise that the request to send flowers was denied as the funeral had already taken place. The family member in question must have been the paternal grandfather as the writer mentions the casket of the deceased’s wife and the fact that the maternal grandparents are also deceased.”

Alrighty, let’s try to fill in the blanks.

I have no idea who called about the flowers but it’s pretty clear that those blooms were earmarked for my grandpa’s funeral. And the funeral must have taken place by the time that call came in. Clearly this was my paternal grandfather, as Poirot figured out above.

The only thing I remember about the funeral is seeing him in the casket at the funeral home. That’s a weird sight, no matter who it is; it’s just so unnatural. Anyway, I remember walking up to the casket and staring at him. I think it was my dad who said, “He looks good, doesn’t he?”

I did not think he looked good but that seems to be the go-to statement at a funeral. I suppose many people die after an illness so by comparison they look better than they did. Plus they’re not wearing an old flannel robe and they usually don’t have bed head.

Side note: Mr. C knows the two requests I have for my funeral — should I precede him. My middle initial must not appear on my grave stone and the undertaker must paint my lips with Wet n’ Wild 511B.

When a chick is driving the casket it seems like they use a light-colored pink or peach on the lips. I didn’t wear that color in life and I’m not wearing it in death. Period.

I haven’t attended a grave-side funeral in quite a while; do they still offer that as an option? I find that unsettling. I know, intellectually, that the boxes are side by side underground but it’s still too much information for me to handle while attending a funeral. I want to drop the person off at the cemetery, say goodbye and then see sod the next time I visit.

So I stand by my previous statement: “… You could see Grandma’s box on the side and the ends of the other boxes. It was weird.”

Once again, I always enjoy the abrupt change of topic in these entries. Grandpa’s dead, it sucks watching Walt Disney on a Friday night and it’s about time Driver’s Ed is almost over. Yeah.

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25 VIPs have spoken

  • Han says:

    I’ve only been to two funerals and one of them wasn’t technically a funeral. The first was for my Grandma just under 2 years ago. The other was for my Great Grandma, there was a thanksgiving at my Grandparents church and a memorial thingy at the Crematorium but because her body was given to scientific research there wasn’t a proper burial or cremation.

    The thanksgiving was interesting because I learnt more about my Great Grandma in her eulogy bit then I think I ever knew about her in life

    • cardiogirl says:

      I hadn’t thought about what happens when someone donates their body to science. I suppose it can’t be embalmed for a viewing since it would mess up the tissue, etc. But I think it’s cool that she donated her body to science.

      Sometimes I think we should write a eulogy before a person’s death so they can know how we feel before they’re gone.

      • v says:

        Sometimes I think we should write a eulogy before a person’s death so they can know how we feel before they’re gone.

        good idea, cause i don’t think they are thinking outside of the box they are in. so not paying attention. i would ask for my letter from you now, but i’m not gonna die. so i’ll never know.

  • Solomon says:

    I want to be composted and then spread on a vegetable garden somewhere. Or maybe I’d be dessicated and turned into blood and bone (a dried organic fertiliser) and sprinkled on. I like the idea that even in death, I can be useful and feed something else.

    Would you believe that I’ve never been to a funeral?

    • cardiogirl says:

      Can that actually be done, Solomon? I know cremated remains can be scattered wherever, mostly, but I don’t think those have any nutrients to it.

      No, I cannot believe you’re in your 20s (you’re at least 20, right?) and you have never been to one funeral. I consider that lucky.

      Prediction! Liz is going to donate her body to a Body Farm. I guess that’s sorta like composting, right?

      • Heidi Klum says:

        I’m going to do like Solomon, too, and get made into fertilizer for a nice tree or rose bush or whatever. I figure a plaque is good enough, and if it’s a fruit tree then people can literally eat me. I think that would be included on the plaque: “EAT ME!”

        Anyway, as to the process: they freeze you and then break you up into little pieces and then you’re compost, which really beats cremation and decomposing forever to me.

        Also, after my anatomy labs, I will never donate my body to science.

        • Michelle says:

          I am with you on that last statement Heidi! Medical students aren’t always very respectful. I remember walking around at the beginning of anatomy lab looking for an uncircumcised male cuz I had never seen one up until that point. I have since learned it looks a little different dead and embalmed.

          • cardiogirl says:

            @Heidi Get outta here. Do they have to use a super, super freeze method like cryogenic freezing or will any meat locker do? Yuck.

            @Michelle Auugghhh! Uh, wow. So the bodies donated to science are embalmed first? I figured that would jack up the organs, but I guess you don’t need blood or rapid decomposition, eh?

            • Solomon says:

              I think they use something like liquid nitrogen to freeze you and then sound waves to break you up. I quite like that idea – it’s pretty eco friendly, unlike being embalmed. I’d hate that. I don’t want people looking at me when I’m dead and can’t give them the evil eye for doing it. Embalming uses formaldehyde, which is REALLY bad for the environment.

            • cardiogirl says:

              I have such a hard time wrapping my head around *anything* that will be done to my body after I’m dead. I know that’s irrational but I shut down when I hear words like nitrogen and formaldehyde

        • Solomon says:

          I love the idea of “Eat Me!”.

  • Faith says:

    Hola CG,

    I’ve been to two funerals but only one I can remember. They both were for grandparents. The one I don’t remember was for my step paternal grandfather who i didn’t know and the second was for my Pop-pop (maternal grandfather). Pop-pop almost three years ago but at times it feels like it was just yesterday.

    I remember he did look better than he was looking in his last few days but nothing like his former self. The cancer had taken his hair and his muscle mask leaving behind a frail old man. This is not how I remember my Pop-pop. I remember a vibrant man who never wore sneakers or jeans and always donned a pageboy cap.

    When I go and hopefully this is a long time from now, I want everyone to have a party in my honor and donate as much of my body parts to people who need them. I figure no matter where I’m going I won’t need organs.

    • cardiogirl says:

      Just curious, how old were you when you step paternal grandfather died? (Man that’s a mouthful.) I suppose I get hung up on “looks good.” Compared to how they *last* looked, a lot of people do look good.

      But I always compare that person to when he or she was healthy — my memory of what he or she looked like — and it never matches up.

      • Faith says:

        I was around 4 or 5 I believe. I remember the funeral as if it were a dream but I’m sure it took place. One of my aunts was crying and could not be consoled in the corner and another strolled in a fur coat during the middle of the service. Not sure why I remember those distinct details but I do.

        And I think you’re right the person never really looks quite as good as they looked healthy. In my Pop-Pop’s case he was a shell of his healthy self but he looked so much better than when he was sick in the hospital bed.

        • cardiogirl says:

          That’s so wild, Faith. Does your mom remember that and if so, I wonder if she has any commentary on the chick who strolled in late wearing a fur coat.

  • v says:

    i don’t do grave sites and i don’t go back after they are dead either. i’m not cold, it’s just that they can’t hear me. i’d have better conversations with that person at home in my head than i would standing in front of a stone. trust me.

    and you’re not gonna die. i’m calling the company that makes your lipstick and i will ask them to discontinue it. just so you’ll stick around. and i know CPR and will bring you back as many times as i want to, so don’t even try it. hiya, cg.

    • cardiogirl says:

      Yeah, I know that feeling.

      (laughs) I’m gonna buy 20 tubes today, just in case. Can’t you see us arguing while you’re giving me CPR?

      I say “See ya,” then die.

      You bring me back and say, “Not so fast.”

      I say, “Oh yeah?” then die again.

      You bring me back and say, “I can do this all day.”

  • “Man you know you’re desperate when you’re sitting home on a Friday night watching “Walt Disney” with the folks.”


    Sounds like something I would’ve written. Tho I have evidence that I was a bit of a suck-up, even in my diary. I think I always figured someone was going to find it, and I wanted to come across as a nice person.

    I really need to work on my will. That lipstick issue is so important. For me, it’s gonna have to be Cover Girl Continuous Color in Bronzed Peach. I’d also like to make sure my hair is curled and not left straight. No one will say I “look good” if my hair is straight.

    • cardiogirl says:

      It *is* funny to me how candid I was because I also lived in fear that someone would read the journal while I was still living there.

      I’ve wondered what my ponytail will look like while I’m lying flat in the casket. It’s not really gonna have the same panache it did in life.

      • Erin says:

        Maybe they can make the ponytail a bit off-center (not a side ponytail, but either a little higher or lower or to the side than normal) so your poor head wont be sitting right on it. That would give it a bit more visibility too. Otherwise, not only will your head wobble around on that ponytail pedestal, but you may also look bald.

  • Elizabeth A. says:

    I don’t know how many funerals I’ve attended. I didn’t even know a couple of the decedents. You just go. Funerals are big to-do’s in the South so I have been to many a graveside. Funeral service in church/funeral home and everyone drives to the cemetery and you better pull over, Jack. And besides where else can you do the 21 gun salute?

    Other boxes? That confuses me. There’s supposed to be a tent and some chairs and an outdoor carpet thing and we watch the box lowered into the ground and a few more words are said. And you linger and talk and go back to the house and eat fried chicken until you want to pop.

    • cardiogirl says:

      I think I must have been able to stand next to the hole and look straight down. That memory is so vague that I wonder if I’m making it up based on reading that journal entry.

      I went to one funeral that had a 21-gun salute and it scared the living shit out of me each time they shot. Even though I knew it was coming the second and third time.

      They did it right outside the funeral home next to the hearse. I wonder if they used blanks. They must have, right?

      • Elizabeth A. says:

        I have this image you with a hankie (I know, you think they’re gross) all distraught and then jumping out of your skin three times. Amusing.

        They have to be blanks. Bullets can be just as dangerous coming down. I never thought of 21 gun salute, or most gunshots for that matter being frightening. All in what you’re used to.

        I went to one where I guess there were only three guys available, so they shot seven times. I remember because it was hot as balls outside. I felt bad for thinking, “Let’s go already, I have on pantyhose for Christ’s sake.” I hope I have the decency not to die in August.

        • cardiogirl says:

          Get. Out. Of. Here!

          They only had three guys available? Damn I would have been janky all day long after that.

  • bluesleepy says:

    I have only been to one funeral. My bio mom’s sister died in September of 1997, and even though I was in my first semester of college, I informed my bio mom that there was no way she was driving all the way to upstate New York by herself. I took a week off from school and went up with her. I have very vague memories of seeing my aunt at the wake. I know people were losing it left and right as they saw her — it was not an expected death; she was only like 55 years old. I was pretty creeped out by the dead body, so I stayed in the back of the room. I am fairly certain we had a graveside service as well. I seem to remember that. But my memory is sketchy at best.

    Me, I will either be donated to a body farm like Liz, or I will be cremated after all my usable stuff is harvested. I’d rather not be embalmed (which sort of precludes having a wake) — just cremate me already! If my husband goes before me, his organs will be donated, then once he’s cremated, a small portion of his ashes will go out into space and the rest of his ashes will be molded into artificial reef material to replace dying parts of coral reef underwater. He loves to scuba dive, you see.

    • cardiogirl says:

      That’s so cool about the undersea reef material, I had no idea you could do that. Wow — creative and useful!

  • absepa says:

    Wow, these folks must have really healthy families. I’ve been to dozens of funerals, and that’s just on my mom’s side–I don’t even know my father’s family. It usually goes down more or less like Elizabeth described, except sometimes the wake is held at a church. Fried chicken is always present, along with about 50 different desserts.

    I will never forget my fiesty little grandmother, insisting to her children that she not be buried in a dress. (She had skinny little chicken legs, and she hated for anyone to see them.) She had a series of heart attacks and passed away rather suddenly, so we didn’t know much about her wishes for her funeral. But we made sure she was wearing her favorite pantsuit.

    • cardiogirl says:

      Yeah, I’ve been to quite a few as well. It always feels so weird to eat a meal after but I understand why people do it.

      Love that grandma wore a pantsuit. Awesome.

  • Michelle says:

    I have made it quite clear to my husband that I am to be cremated and then thrown wherever he wants. The thought of being buried underground gives me the willies like nothing else. Let the doctors take what they can use from me and incinerate the rest!

    Knock 1 lb off my ticker up there!

    • cardiogirl says:

      See I have trouble with any and all concepts about what happens to my shell. Embalmed and buried freaks me out.

      Burned and thrown into the wind freaks me out. All of it freaks me out.

      Done! Way to go!

  • Nicky says:

    I’d like to leave my body to science, but I’m not sure science would want it! My next choice would be a viking funeral :-)

  • Erin says:

    I am so glad that it was Grandma’s coffin you were talking about, and not her other “box”. (Did they even use that term in the mid 80s? I was 18 months old when you wrote this entry, so I wasn’t really up on the current slang for the ladybits.)

  • Jenny H says:

    I have gone back and tried to decipher old journals, and I love how not even I know what the heck I was talking about. I just went to a funeral in January. My next-door neighbor I’d known for thirty-years died and I was at the house shortly after she died. It was so unsettling to see her. At the funeral, I was even more out-of-sorts because while they did a good job preparing her, it didn’t look like her at all and it made me sad.

    • cardiogirl says:

      I’m sorry to hear about your neighbor. It really is unsettling no matter how healthy the person was in life. It’s just a really strange concept.

  • Wendy says:

    I heard that same comment, “doesn’t he look good?” at my brother-in-law’s funeral and I didn’t think so either. He looked greenish and a bit pasty (John said that was probably because of his overdose). It didn’t look like him in life at all. I didn’t really even want to go up close because, as far as I was concerned that was his empty shell.

    • cardiogirl says:

      That’s so sad about your BIL. I’ve always been surprised at what an undertaker can do to make something really unnatural look somewhat closer to natural.

  • [...] may recall my last entry about seeing my grandma’s coffin at my grandfather’s funeral. It looks like I wrote one more thought about that six days [...]

  • Wendy says:

    When my favorite aunt died when I was 13, I had nightmares about her body rotting for a very long time.

    Which is why I’m all about cremation. I really like the symmetry of the body being as gone as the spirit is. Nothing laying around molding like old cheese.

    I have also requested that my nearest & dearest take me on a cruise (in ash form), toast me with a really good red wine, & toss me overboard. Then go party. But I have requested of God that I “live long enough that my death isn’t a tragedy, but not so long that I start to be a bother to everyone”. In which case, partying should not be a problem for my nearest & dearest.

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