Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Sightseeing (08/08/05)
TITLE: A Sight for Sore Eyes
By Joanne Malley
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You know, I’d like to think I recognize good news from five miles away, but color me ignorant—I didn’t know the business of dying is considered something to celebrate with a gleaming smile…
“Sweetie—guess what?” squealed my mom with excitement.
She shifted in her seat and leaned toward me.
“Your dad and I purchased a mausoleum and found our funeral home last weekend.”
“Oh, goodie…that’s just terrific, I said, as my hands clapped to a tune of sarcasm. “And, you waited a whole week to share this exciting news with me?”
I looked at her cock-eyed and shook my head in disbelief.
“MOM, that’s soooo morbid!”
“Well, honey…you can never be too prepared. You and your brother shouldn’t have to worry about that stuff,” she reasoned.
“Oh, and you should see the Memorial Home!” she blabbed.
She went on and on, as if she just purchased a time-share on Marco Island.
“It’s got a gorgeous fountain in the front courtyard and delicate flowers along the curved stone path. And, the interior décor is to die for!” she said.
“Now, you have to acquire a sense of humor, Mom?”
“Also, an artist painted flowers and vines on the walls in all the viewing rooms—it’s just soooo classy. Everything is a sight for sore eyes!”
“That’s nice. Have you picked a date yet, Mom? You seem quite excited to get there,” I said with an attitude.
“Don’t get upset, sweetie. Death is a fact of life.”
“You know, Mom, I love great décor too, but it’s not like Better Homes and Gardens will come for a photo shoot while you’re looking fabulous amidst white satin and stenciled walls.”
She went on to ignore me.
“I also wanted to pick a beautiful mausoleum for your visits. Wrought iron benches will be near the crypt so you can pray or remember old times. The property is vast, with gardens galore—it’s truly beautiful and even perfect for sightseeing when you visit.”
“Shall I bring a blanket, Mom? I mean—one never knows how much I’ll like the place. I may want to stay a few days.”
“And…sightseeing? I’ll barely be in the mood to check out the daisies. Good grief, Mom!”
My crazy mother—God love her—she should spend her time shopping at Wal-Mart on senior citizen Wednesday instead of buying the perfect satin liner and bleeding heart bouquet.
My dad remained quite through the whole light and cheerful conversation until he mentioned his preferences. I think he actually enjoyed a relaxing snooze during our conversation.
I should’ve followed his lead.
Bleary-eyed and hoarse he said, “Just put me in a pine box and ship me on a freight train to Florida. It’s retirement heaven there anyway. I’ll fit right in.”
My father’s the practical type.
It was getting late and I said good-bye to my parents. When I hugged my dad, his lips were close to my ear. I could’ve sworn he whispered, “Save me…I don’t want all that fluff!”
Poor dad—he never gets his way. He should have some say in the matter.
It was time to head home. The ride was a solemn one. I couldn’t imagine my parents leaving this world. Mom was wise to plan ahead, and I know her choices were made for me. She knows the deep sadness I’ll feel on those horrific days when she and dad leave pieces of themselves behind.
The serene surroundings, the lovely décor, the flowers, and a chance to immerse in deep thought by the life-affirming gardens will be her last gift of love to ease the pain. It will, indeed, be a sight for my sore, red eyes.
I’m sure I’ll take Mom up on her offer of sightseeing after that awful day comes. When I catch a glimpse of the botanicals, every flower will remind me that life goes on. Every petal’s intricate design will remind me how fragile life is, and every step I take will bring me closer to healing my broken heart as I thank God for the parents he gave me. Even from beyond, my mother will be trying to comfort her little girl.
* * *
The phone rang soon after I arrived home. It was my mother.
“Do you want to go to Wal-Mart with me on Wednesday? There’s a huge price-slashing event on home decor?”
“Sounds great, Mom—right after I order a pine box for dad.”
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