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Monday, May 28, 2012

Taking care of business

Yesterday, for Memorial Day, we made the slightly over an hour long trek to Riverside National Cemetery or Memorial Park or National Park and Public Restroom or whatever the hell they call it now to make it seem like there really aren't a lot of deceased people residing there.

It's actually a rather cool and interesting place. Very pretty. Lakes, fountains, and this fascinating area with the names of every Congressional Medal of Honor winner ever on the walls and a sort of pool in the middle and lots of pretty marble. It's fascinating, you should look it up on line.

I don't know if it's supposed to look like an oasis in the middle of the god forsaken inland empire but it does. They also do a LOT out there on Memorial Day and Veteran's Day, programs, bands, things like that.  We went yesterday for several reasons. A) I still had a full tank of gas. B) There are upwards of 7000 motorcyclists who ride from a Harley Davidson store in Riverside to the cemetery on Memorial Day and the hubster was a bit askance at the thought of sharing a Memorial Day visit to his father who resides at Riverside with 7000 men and women on hogs. I don't care so much about the choppers as the noise I imagine 7000 of them make. There must be a reason they call this "West Coast Thunder" and C) it's supposed to be hot today. Hot here is dreadful, hot in the inland empire defies description.

The last time we visited, my FILs headstone had been set but the area he was in was still a dirt plot. I railed about the stone, it was plain (of course), but contained nothing about the man. Now, granted, there's a lot better left unsaid, but, well, frankly, I think that, if one is going the extra mile to actually inter someone (as opposed to dropping the ashes off the side of a party boat) one might actually say something like "put a cross on it" or "it should say "Joe Blow, Beloved husband and father" or something like that. It doesn't HAVE to require a lot of thought, even a little makes it less utilitarian.

Well, a) the sod is in. The area has been filled and is now grass, which looks nice. I could opine at the rather disturbing and methodical rate at which Veteran's cemeteries fill up, at least this one, but if you don't know that my telling you won't change anything. But...the marker has been replaced with a more personalized one.

Rule #1. If you're going to actually ORDER a marker, make sure it has the right name on it. Granted, the error was minor, but it changed his middle name. If ones name is John, for example, make sure John's headstone doesn't say "Juan".  It's just common courtesy for Crissake!  This is something my mother taught me, btw. She didn't teach me much, but what she did has been invaluable. I watched her bury a few people. She would visit the cemetery frequently afterwards, some of it part of the grieving process but some of it was the acknowledgement that cemeteries are a business and, as such, one needs to make sure that the business you have entered in to with them is done correctly. Sod was checked, maintenance was checked and, when set, the headstone was checked. Let's face've PAID for this, and it's up to YOU to make sure it's been done the way you wanted it. The person you buried or interred or entombed sure can't do anything about it (yes, I used to work for a cemetery, I know all the proper terms, like "entombed").  Gird your loins, fill your tank and make sure it's RIGHT.

Rule #2. NEVER write "He was never better" on a grave marker.

I really shouldn't have to tell you that. I suppose, if these people could stand me, I could have told them that, but, as they're way to too good to speak to people like me that's not gonna happen. Aw, hell, even if they DID speak me me with any kindness or courtesy they wouldn't have paid attention anyway. My MIL and SIL think they're fucking Hemingway. That's being used as an adjective, btw, NOT a verb. Although, in my SILs case, maybe not, she has always been friendly in her own way.

Apparently, my FIL was known for answering "Never better" when asked how he was. Neither the hubster nor myself remember this, although perhaps, we never said "how are you?" and just said "Hi", it's hard to remember. I have no problems with some sort of catch phrase or another on a headstone, I've actually seen more than one that said "I told you I was sick." My own mother's says "Beloved mother and Granmere" because that's what my kids called her. No, not the "beloved mother" part, even I didn't call her that but it seemed better than putting "crazy bitch" on it. Not that I didn't love her, I did, but she was nuts. Personally, I have already requested that, under the usual hearts and flowers on MY marker, it say "Yahtzee!" but I digress...

If you're going to write "never better" as some sort of tribute, or memory, for GOD'S SAKE...put in in quotes. It's a phrase, not a declarative sentence.

I take no issue with the second half, although frankly, I think my MIL (and yes, this has her fingerprints all over it) was simply finding a way to fill in all the space. He did touch a lot of lives. Not all of them for the better (just ask his sisters), but it's a sentiment and I'm fine with that.  I doubt anyone touches EVERY life they cross for the better but that's for another day.

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