Love The One You’re With


Valentine’s Day.

I lost interest in the holiday long ago. It has always felt like we have to muster a prefab feeling for all those cornball heart-shaped candies and flowers.

Actually Valentine’s Day reminds me of my folks. No, not because they were married for sixty-two years, but because they decided to celebrate by buying each other a cremation. I’d be lying if I said I’d found a nice neat compartment in my brain to house that joyous expression of love.

Now I realize it was a gift for their children. They saved us from having to wing it at an emotional time. It was all paid for, right down to the last upsetting detail.

As my parents forged their twilight years they discussed death and dying as if new friends they didn’t care to meet. Of course they wanted to be responsible, leaving no loose ends to chance…but at the same time, making it quite clear they had no plans to vacate the premises.

I suppose all these conversations about dying were a preparation of sorts. A form of shattering the illusion that the moments will last forever or that there is greatness in existence…a seriousness in holding onto material things and being able to pass them forward. Or maybe we all share a secret longing for solitude …a deep mysterious living need to die. Hell if I know…I’m still trying to take down my Christmas lights.

Maybe that’s why I found this morning’s call from a funeral home somewhat entertaining. I’ve received robocalls in the past, but this was different.

“Congratulations,” the female voice chirped. “Your name has been chosen in our annual drawing and you’ve just won a free burial plot!”

“Wow”, I said. “This is truly my lucky day! A six-foot patch of dirt all my own. Me…a frickin’ landowner! Let me catch my breath. Too much glee could stop the old ticker and I want to savor this moment.”

I know she must have thought I was nuts, and she had every right to go there. But, come on. It was over the top. Her cheerful voice…the image of a raffle at a funeral home…basically, the whole idea that someone could become downright giddy over an underground storage unit started me on a trajectory of revelations.

See how I segue? Just when you think I’m going to badger some poor funeral home employee who is just doing her job, I untie the tether and send the conversation free falling. You see, my brain is like a door ajar, and any little breeze causes it to swing on its hinges and bang away through the night like a call girl at a sales convention.

So there I sat…waiting for her to explain all the hidden costs associated with my new narrow home when my mind spiraled to the last Valentine’s Day with my parents. I brought them a box of chocolates filled with hard caramels. Yes, I know it was not a good idea…but we opened it anyway and proceeded to pull out our fillings.

While digging nuggets out of our molars, we discussed where to scatter their ashes. My dad mentioned that one of his friends’ remains are on a golf course where he made a hole in one.

“That’s pretty shallow.” I said aloud, although I should have kept my caramel trap shut.

Besides, who am I to judge? Maybe that was the greatest experience of his life. Possibly there was nowhere else he’d rather be than in a small dark hole where golf balls are knocked in daily.

I’m starting to depress myself. Besides, I’m no spring chicken. Youth came and went as if I slept through an entire evolutionary drift. No doubt about it…I’m flying down the backside of the Bell Curve with my arms raised high in the air and screaming so loud you can hear me in a past life. Soon men with their trousers up to their nipples will be asking me to Starbucks to do crosswords together.

So I guess on that note I’ll end with…Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

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  1. You had a serious impact in your life -Losing two parents in the same year. That would make anyone’s mind dwell on regrets for a good while.

    I was misdiagnosed a few months back with a disease nobody wants
    that eventually ends things. I tried to look for the positives of knowing your days are numbered. Bucket list stuff held no appeal. Writing some pearls for my daughter was as much as I could come up with. Of course I could start smoking again! Actually I called an insurance agent and requested a quote for life insurance. This to offset some not so great financial planning.

    I knew I had married the right woman when she exclaimed that she would not hear of that plan. When tests finally showed I was not going out early, I decided to start appreciating each day a little more. I called my insurance guy and told him I wasn’t going to need the policy after all. (Note to self-call a different agent next time).

    • Jeff,

      First, let me say that I’m glad you did not have to set your bucket list in fast forward and you’ve been given a new lease on life. Congrats! It must feel great!

      You are right…losing both parents in the same year is difficult. I was just trying to get used to my dad being gone when my mom had a stroke. Then throw in an ex (the father of one of my kids) and it’s been quite the year. I feel like I’ve been run over by a truck…and then then they backed up and ran over me again.

      Thank you for your nice comment. I do appreciate it! Continue living your life in a healthy, happy, appreciative way and I’m sure you will be with us for a long time. Best to you!

  2. Welcome back to the land of blogging.

    Death is terribly democratic and one thing thats unavoidable, but fancy winning your own plot, I hope it has a decent view.

    Valentines day is terribly commercialised over here, you can tell it’s near when the price of likely gifts goes up.

  3. Thank you Robert! I’ve got to get back to writing…it’s been too long!

    Yes, death is unavoidable…unless you are that immortal Turritopsis jellyfish that lives forever by growing young when it gets old. Supposedly stress makes it reverse the aging process. Man, if stress reversed the aging process in humans I’d still be in the womb!

    Thanks for stopping by, Robert. Love hearing from you! Hope the trains are running smoothly over the pond!

    • Hi Annie

      Yes trains are running well I am pleased to report.

      Nice to see you writing again, I still plod on with both of my blogs, keeps me amused as they say. The railway one gets more entries, I must do a few more for the one as well.

  4. Good to hear, Robert! I’ve got to get caught up!

  5. Funny, I checked in here a week or two ago to see if I’d missed a post. Now here you are. I was having a run of “are you fucking kidding me?” moments the last half of 2017. The highlight being a diagnosis of recurrent breast cancer. Left me a lot reading time. If you’ve never read “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl, I highly recommend it. Nice to see you back.

  6. Oh Lynne, I am so sorry to hear about the return of your breast cancer. Damn it! Please know that I’m here for you if you ever want to talk. We’re in the cancer club together…it’s definitely a club that no one wants to join, but if you do have it…we stick together. I’m thinking of you and will order the book today. Thank you! Take good care. xx

  7. Annie, this is without doubt one of the best pieces you have ever written! I’ll call you next week so we can chat! So happy to see you are writing again.

  8. Hi Anne…I chuckled all thru the blog.. Your parents were with it all the way!.. I only met them a few times and knew they were great people!

    I lost my parents 15 years ago and still miss them.

    Although while raising a family …I regret not making the time to visit them more often!….I tell my friends with living parents to visit and enjoy them as much as possible.. . You never get them back!

    I have played golf for years and have never scored a hole in one… So ..I cannot relate… I would take “ashes scattered” on any hole I scored a par …at any course!! 🙂

    As always ..Nice work!!

  9. Hi Ron,

    Thanks for your nice message. My parents taught me a lot and I miss them everyday. Like yesterday… I found myself wondering how we were related to this person. In the past I would have called my folks just to hear my dad say, “Go ask your mother!”

    It is nice to hear from you. I’ll try to keep an open mind on golfing, but hopefully we’re both a long way from being dumped on one!

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