December 14, 2011 by Marj Hatzell
It’s amazing how your life can change in an instant. In a blink of an eye, even.
I know life changes every single day. That’s life, right? It just kind of happens. It’s like a box of chocolates (you never know what you’re going to get). I’m not beneath quoting Forrest Gump, you know.
What I didn’t count on? My father’s death. He was the leader in our family. The glue that held us together. The one with the answers, the supportive hug, the pat on the back. His family was more important to him that ANYTHING on this earth. When we asked him what he wanted for birthday or Christmas? His standard answer: Time with my family.
My father “got it” see. He knew that our time on earth here is short, relatively speaking. I mean, he got 72 awesome years. And then f*cking cancer destroyed his bowel and we had four short months. Four wonderful months, until his body just couldn’t do it anymore. But in the end we were all there with him. We all held his hand as he slipped away and told him how much we loved him. And then we planned his funeral. CHA CHING!
Boy, is that expensive. Oy.
We had a week after he passed until the memorial service (my dad donated his body to a medical school. Even in death he was kind and giving). Which should have been plenty of time to find something to wear, right?
See, my Dad was all about enjoying life. He wasn’t into being melancholy or drab. He was about being happy. Black was NOT ACCEPTABLE to him. Colors were. He wore colors. HOOOOBOY, he wore colors. Sometimes they were hard to look at. AHEM. As in, flourescent aqua blue tee-shirt under his white dress shirt for church. And denim overalls. It was a quite a sight to behold. Or his Hawaiian shirts. Fancy schmancy. He was quite the snazzy dresser. And by snazzy, I mean he certainly drew attention but my Dad was the kind of guy that was all I REALLY DO NOT CARE WHAT YOU THINK so as far as he was concerned, he looked pretty dapper.
Anyways, shopping. I dragged my three sisters out one by one. I took my niece. My neighbor’s girls. I spent every day, several hours a day, looking in every single clothing store in the tristate area (Delaware, PA and New Jersey, because that’s where I live. No, not New Jersey. PA. Oh, nevermind). As in, one day I hit eleven stores. One by one, my sisters and niece and sisters-in-law would find something to wear. One by one they vowed never to shop with Picky McPickyton again (and they mean it this time). Because I’m picky and I wanted to find something colorful. Something sky blue (his favorite color). Something cheerful and comfortable, because stockings and high heels just ain’t my bag, yo. Actually, yoga pants and sneakers are. Not exactly funeral attire. Unless you are my Dad. Maybe I shoulda just worn pajamas. Anyways.
Wanna know what’s in stores in December? NOT BLUE.
My choices were black velvet, black polyester, red and purple. But no blue. Oh, there was some grey. How could i forget? But nothing blue. I looked and looked and looked some more. I mean, it’s not like there’s a section at the big department stores called Funeral attire. Even if there was a section exclusively for funerals, I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t have found anything anyway. Mostly because woman’s clothing is too mature for me and I haven’t quite gotten the fact in my head that I shouldn’t wear juniors, see. This may be why it was difficult to find something to wear. I shop in the pajama section.
My sisters avoided me like the plague. They were right to do so.
The night before, with minutes to spare, I settled for a blue cashmere sweater that was on sale, wore it with a cream-colored tank, with a black skirt with black leggings (almost yoga pants. Almost.) under it and a pretty silk scarf around my neck. I thought I looked like a circus clown.
But at least I was comfy, right?
I walked into the church that morning and received a few dozen compliments so unless folks are really into circus clown attire, I am thinking I pulled it off. Not that my dad would care (this is a man who wore overalls to church, y’all) but I did. And it occurred to me that the reason I couldn’t find the PERFECT thing to wear was because I didn’t want to wear something to do my Dad’s funeral. I didn’t want to be at my Dad’s funeral. Because I wasn’t ready for my Dad’s funeral. I mean, who is really ready for that sort of thing?
But hey, in the end, he got his wish. Our whole family was there and the church was packed. We thought of him fondly and shared memories. We used several boxes of tissues and we smiled, hugged, shook hands and thanked people for coming. You know, standard funeral stuff. And true to form, Bug Boy pouted the entire time because I wouldn’t let him play with his iPod during the service. MEANEST MOMMY IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD. I mean, THE NERVE. Sheesh!
Now we’re back to reality. Finding the new normal. Trying to catch up with two weeks worth of laundry and housekeeping. Attempting to get decorations up so my kids don’t stage a mutiny and fire me from Christmas. I might even get cards out this year. Or not. That requires organization. One thing I ain’t? Organized. (Shhhh…that’s a secret. I don’t want tens of people on the Internet reading it or anything.)
And I have a nice cashmere sweater hanging in my closet.