I’m pretty sure that the woman at the funeral home had never been faced with anyone quite like Betty, Nick, and me.
She was lovely, she really was. She made the experience as easy as possible. She outlined things we needed, and things we needed to get and do, and offered to take care of every detail, or provide instructions on how to do them.
She was sedate and funereal, but in a good way. Not cheesy, not sales-y. Very thorough, kind, and just all around professional.
And I don't know if you've been in a funeral home. There are sales opportunities galore. There are a lot of swanky coffins. And there are elaborate doo-dads to attach to them. Like little golf bags, or trout on a line, or cars, or the emblem of your alma mater. . .You get the picture.
But our needs were simple. And Angel met them very nicely.
It is a little hard, however, not to raise an eyebrow when you meet someone named Angel at a funeral home. You see from the card that her name is Angela, but she goes by Angel.
At very least, it makes you tilt your head and think, "Oh."
So Angel sat us down to talk about what we wanted. Our needs were straightforward. My dad wanted to be cremated, and that was what we were doing.
Once we got to the point of discussing cremation she said, “Now, do you know what you will be doing with the cremains? Because we can. . .”
Nick cut her off. “I’m sorry. Did you just say ‘cremains’?”
“Yes. When someone is buried, we call them remains. When someone is cremated, they’re called cremains.”
“Did you make that up?”
She was clearly surprised. “Oh, no, no. You see, ashes, well, ashes just sounds too harsh to most people.”
“But cremains? Seriously? It sounds like it should have a trademark after it.”
I’m not going to say we were jovial, because this was really fucking hard, but none of us could overlook this gem.
“My coffee’s a little dark. Could you please pass the cremains?”
“Wow, these cremains are really fresh!”
And so on.
She wanted to laugh, Angel did, you could tell, but she also didn’t know quite what to do.
We asked her if she’d just say ashes. It was easier for us.
And then we moved on to the next order of business. While we were doing so, Betty took a mint out of the jar on the table. She quietly unwrapped it, stuck it in her mouth, and (she thought) very subtly made a face, grabbed a tissue, and spit it out.
With anyone else, this would’ve passed unnoticed. Or at any rate, uncommented on.
“Bad mint, huh?”
“Maybe it would go down better with some cremains?”