My Dad’s cousin own a funeral home in Cleveland. Picking out my Father’s coffin was one of the most surreal experiences of my life so far. The place had not changed much in fourteen and a half years. It was like walking into a time warp, only this time my Dad wasn’t there. I vaguely remember being with him to pick out my Mom’s coffin. Mostly I remember what it felt like to be in that cold, dimly lit basement full of display cases and weird decoration add-ons. I remember it feeling awful and heavy and unfair when I was sixteen. This time at 31, it almost felt like a joke.
My five siblings and I, along with my Dad’s mother and oldest brother, walked around in a haze trying to pick out a box to lay his body to rest. Damn. Coffins are expensive. I guess I didn’t realize it when my Mom died because he was there. I do remember that he only wanted the best for her. She was the love of his life and he didn’t care how much it cost.
His cousin and good friend was helping us arrange everything; again. He made an honest joke about my Dad being furious if we spent lots money on his coffin. He told us our father would be pretty upset if we put him in anything nicer than a plywood box. It was very difficult to hear but it was the truth. He always put everyone ahead of himself and rarely asked anyone for anything. The man was the hardest person to buy gifts for. Every time we asked, he would simply say, “I don’t need anything. If I want something I can buy it for myself.” We chose the nicest low-grade box that we felt comfortable with. We knew better than to disobey him even when he was dead.