I really should write a book. The fact of the matter is, I just can't make this shit up.
So, after acquiring two urns to take my sister to San Antonio, we make plans to go to one of her favorite haunts (no pun intended), a place called Dick's Last Resort.
Now...first let me tell you about Dick's.
All I can think of is the song "My Posse's on Broadway"....which has at one point or another also crossed my sister's mind. It's this bar on the Riverwalk in San Antonio that is famous. It's notorious for it's crabby staff, shavings on the floor, and the fact that crap can be literally thrown at you. There's a clown there that makes obscene balloon, uh, things and if you're new to the bar, they make hats for you.
A long time ago, I traveled there with my friend Marc. During the time, I think I was working at the tattoo parlour and the pottery shop. We loaded up into Marc's blue corvette (which we actually tried to drown, by the way...it had probably three inches of water in the floor board, but that's another story) with the police lights on it and made the journey from Houston to San Antonio in slightly under two and a half hours. Although it was a relatively short drive, I realize that when you're in fear of your life, time slows down. I really didn't have anything to worry about, I was in good company with a mostly safe driver, but not used to traveling by three-digits...it can kind of throw off your nerves.
When we arrived, my sister was thrilled and took us to this bar on the Riverwalk. The pine shavings on the floor kind of gave it a bit of a funny smell, but I imagine they were there to soak up all sorts of stray things. It was a live music night, we drank beers with necks the size of those super-huge Mountain Dew bottles, and had various napkins and cups thrown at us. At one point, fries flew above the din (french fries), and my sister told the waiter that my friend and I had never been to Dick's. So we were promptly given paper hats. The waiter wrote (literally) on mine, "I'll fart for a quarter" and on Marc's, he wrote, "Hung like a (Sea)Horse". After staggering to the bathroom a couple of times to stare at the pictures of bare-chested, glistening men on the walls of the stall, maybe you kind of get the idea of where we're headed tomorrow. Maybe even an idea about how fun and mischievous my sister was. How much I appreciated some of the silliness of us. And, well... At least around noon, the crowd might be more sedate...
But back to the heart of my story. In our last episode, I'd purchased two nice, yellow ceramic urns for the use of transportation of my sister. The urns are just big enough to hold a bag of her remains. Two urns, three bags. Two for in and around San Antonio...one for the deep blue sea later on.
Now, I just said that the urns were big enough to hold a bag of remains each. Literally. I got them home and realized no matter how much I squished, pushed, rolled or prodded, there was no way I was going to be able to put those bags wholly into the urns. Which means, yup, you guessed it. I had to pour her into those urns.
Now I want you to think about this. When someone's cremated, it's not just this fine silvery ash that gets thrown to the winds to travel the earth for all eternity. It's not that pretty. In fact, it's chunks of bone and ash, akin to maybe crunched up coral. I think the weirdest part was finding the IV needle.
Yes. Yes. You guessed it. My mother knew it had to be done too, so she was kind enough to set everything up. When I got up after dinner, she'd cleared away the counter, set down paper towels, the freshly cleaned urns, a small metal funnel, and went to bed shortly thereafter, leaving me and my husband up alone.
Now it would really upset me to try to leave my mother to that task, and my husband is a man of great fortitude so he set his face with determination when I asked for his assistance. We'd removed the bottom of the cremation box and analyzed the size of the baggies my sister was in before endeavouring on this. Very carefully, we began to shake her from the bag into a funnel, swirl the funnel and let her kind of pour into it like an hourglass.
Like a coarse sand through an hourglass.
And all I can think of is a million things as I'm doing this. Please don't let the funnel clog. Slow down, she's making puffs of ash. What if I breath that up my nose? What if I sneeze? Shit, was that needle left in her after they wheeled her away from the hospice? That was a large chunk. Why are we giggling? Why are we teary-eyed? Did I seriously just get my sister up my nose? If I throw away the bag or wash out the funnel I used, is it disrespectful? Should I ever use that funnel again for anything? It would certainly not be something I'd want to eat or drink anything out of. And why the hell am I doing yet another ridiculous request of my sister's? Gee, it kinda sounds like when we were kids and we threw tiny pebbles down the flat metal slide at the school playground.
And of course, the heart of me is so sad. This is the last physical remains of my sister. This is the last time and last form I will ever touch my sister, and it is nothing like her. There is nothing left of her after this is gone.
So all this sadness, all this craziness, through giggling fits and sobs, it's more than I can bear and more than I can express. It's kind of the mystery of Love. So many things that you have a hard time ever explaining it. But for my husband to unblinkingly be so supportive, to help me in this insane task, to laugh with me and hold me when I cry....I just love him so much. I don't know that he thought it would be this crazy being attached to me for so long. But, I suppose 'at least it ain't dull'.
Well, we commit the ashes to the Riverwalk tomorrow. And another portion into the hands of a very good friend of hers for out and around San Antonio. Whatever makes my sister happy.
After pouring her into the urns and realizing that they are more for aesthetics as opposed to functional, I was worried she spilled. So there are two urns of human remains, both Saran-wrapped and rubber-banded, sitting on the counter, awaiting journeys to San Antonio tomorrow.
Maybe after that, we can stop at Papa Jim's.