Tuesday, April 23, 2013

What Will They Think Of Next?

Husband and I made countless decisions as we were improvising our way through the final chapters of his mother's life. Some of our decisions were wise (hire a personal assistant who could check on her every morning and report back to us) and some of our decisions were not so wise (that final $500 piece of dental work done days before she died) but one of the very best decisions took place more than a year ago.

That was when our church was doing its semi-annual pictorial directory, and all attenders were being encouraged to participate. My mother-in-law didn't particularly want to have her picture taken.

"I don't really know people, and I don't want to buy any pictures, so I don't think there's any reason for me to get it done," she told us.

We were all going to McDonald's after Husband and I had our sitting, though, so on the spur of the moment we straightened her sweater and told the photographer to have at it. "This would be good to have on hand in case we ever need one for...well, you know..." I whispered to Husband as she posed.

Well. If I had one piece of advice to give to someone who anticipates a loved one may be entering decline, it would be to have that person's picture taken. Now. Today. Without delay.

On the way to meet with the funeral director I stopped by the house and grabbed that picture of Mom that was sitting on our bookshelf, and it turned out to be the lynchpin of the entire weekend. When we arrived at the church Saturday morning we discovered it not only had been used with the obituary in the newspaper and online, it was embossed onto the front of the guestbook, printed on a memorial candle, duplicated on the front of the funeral folders, reprinted on the thank you notes, and enlarged to poster size (three times) for easels at the altar and entrances of the church. Every time we looked up we were seeing a new and more unusual application of the now-familiar picture.

It had almost become a Where's-Waldo-ish exercise to find another use of Mom's black-sweatered visage when we turned around after receiving pre-funeral instructions at the front of the sanctuary to see this behind us:
Turns out one of the services provided by the truly remarkable funeral home was the automatic commissioning of an afghan of the dearly departed. Viewed from the front side, it was not quite as horrifying:

But in case you don't get an idea of the magnitude of its splendor, check out the size relative to the chair sitting beside it. This face would not be out of place alongside the presidents on Mount Rushmore. 

We haven't yet decided the final disposition of this unusual souvenir. (My sister-in-law and I politely hot-potatoed it back and forth. "You ought to have it." "No, that's okay, I know you'd appreciate it more." "Oh, no, I'm sure she would have wanted you to have it.")

Finally Boy#3 suggested it should be passed along as a courtship litmus test for Mom's unmarried grandsons. "If I met someone I was interested in," he said, "I could just be like, 'Hey, girl! Want to go cuddle under Grandma?"

I may be getting a clue as to why I don't have more daughters-in-law myself. 


  1. I have that familiar "Don't laugh, you can't laugh when you're at a funeral" feeling about that afghan.

    1. Oh, believe me, the "Don't laugh! You can't laugh!" did not deter anyone at all from laughing.

  2. As you know I've had a hard time posting comments for some strange reason, but have since figured it out. I needed to do so because ever since I read this post I've been trying to comment to tell you how fantastic the whole thing is! I laughed ... I cried ... I laughed some more. And now I plan to make one of these for my relatives when their times come. I think laughter at funerals is very important. Plus I have a strange sense of humor and I would love to see my sister's face when she sees one of our parents on an afghan at the church!

  3. Twister, I'm waiting for the moment when my brother-in-law discovers we stashed that afghan in the bottom drawer of the dresser he inherited. Mwahahahaha!