Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I See Dead People (in my closet)...

I just saw my dead Dad in my closet.

"So what?", say you? 

Well, you should know right now that he is not haunting me or my house. 

Not don't think?

Waaait a minute....Not unless he's haunting us in the form of scorpions that invaded us four months after moving into a new house. Possible, but not his style. If you've ever heard the phrase, "outdoorsman", let me introduce you to another, less-known phrase- "indoorsman". 

That was Dad. A real indoorsman. And a Republican. That went to The School of Hard Knocks and never, ever took a wooden nickel from anyone! If this guy were to haunt me it would be more subtle and far less "outdoors-y" than rabid scorpions creeping through my house at night. He would haunt me in the form of The Macneil/Lehrer Newsgroup or Fox News being transmitted on all channels on my TV whenever we were trying to watch Weeds or making sure the mayonnaise jar was always empty, no matter how many times a new jar was purchased . 

So no, Dad is not haunting me, nor was he living with me when he died last October. I guess now he kinda lives with me but to be technically correct, I'd have to change the verb, "living" to "staying". As in, "My recently deceased Dad is staying in my closet".

And I just said, "Hi" to him.

Ok, ok, re-reading that it sounds slightly c-ra-zee, but I assure you it is not. Or maybe it is. I don't think it's as koo-koo as it sounds, though. 

Still unsure what to do with his ashes six months after he died last October, I finally picked up Dad from the funeral home. Dad had always said he wanted, under NO circumstances to have a funeral held on his behalf. He said they were "depressing" and a waste of money. He also was sure to remind me every few years starting when I was about ten years old to "pull the plug!" if it came down to it and to cremate him afterwards. Yes, these were the types of conversations my dad and I would share after my parents divorced. They weren't met to scare me, rather, I think Dad knew that I'd be there and I'd be the responsible one in the family, regardless of my age.

However, what Dad neglected to tell me was, what the hell we were supposed to do with him afterwards. The one time I asked Dad what he wanted done with his ashes he told me he wanted me to put him on the mantel "so I can keep an eye on you". Clearly I could not depend on a straight answer from this guy so I never brought it up again.

Fast forward ten years and you'll now find my Dad's remains on the top shelf of our closet, resting comfortably between my kid's humidifier and an old flour container. The flour jar contains some weed my husband purchased sometime in the previous decade that he hasn't decided to smoke yet. It is no coincident, by the way, that his decision to purchase the aforementioned pot was probably made an hour or so after the last time he smoked it.

We- my sister, my Dad's girlfriend of ten years, Kay, and I debated the merits of several different places that might be a nice, final resting place for him. At first my sister really wanted to shove Dad in the ocean, I think because her new boyfriend, "Skippy"*, lived on a boat in San Diego. Skippy had kindly offered to take the entire family out on his boat to find a place where we would go chumming with Dad. I wasn't a huge fan of this idea but I didn't really care too much, really, where Dad wound up, as long as it  A) wasn't my mantel or B) was alright with Kay. Honestly, though, the whole thing sounded like a  big hassle. I'd have to drive six hours across the desert and then get on a boat (which I totally hate) and then I'd have to meet this, Skippy person. 

I didn't know much about Skippy but what I did know, was a little iffy.  

First of all, he was a dude in his early 50's that went by "Skippy" and if that wasn't enough, he'd lived on a docked boat in the San Diego harbor for the last 20 years. I remember seeing movies and TV shows in the 80s  where the main character lived on a houseboat or some shit (MacGyver,  Sonny Crockett of Miami Vice fame and the gruff, but loveable, Quincy, ME) and it seemed super-cool and we all made plans to all live on house-boats one day, when we grew up. 
"My, what supple ankles you have, Crockett!"
"Why thank you. It's the fresh ocean air. I live on a boat, you see..."

Of course I was in my teens at the time and I also thought wearing a white tube top with overalls and unlaced Doc Marten's was the sexiest, most imaginative fashion statement a girl could ever make. Ever. Eventually we all (well, most of us) grew up, got rid of our overall/tube top ensembles and moved into houses built on dry land.

Totally not me (not enough tube-top) 

But boat-houses aside, Skippy was new to the family. He'd only been dating my sister a few weeks and to offer to basically host a funeral for our entire family was a little weird, I thought.

I couldn't figure out why this guy want to throw a funeral for a grumpy old guy he never met. Shit, I didn't even want to go. Besides- who throws someone a funeral?? Do people normally do that kind of thing or is it just my wacko family? 

It just seemed off to me and I knew whatever we'd wind up doing would be a tough day for me and everyone else. So I didn't want to make the day that much worse by trapping myself on a stupid boat. You see, unlike a lot of people, I fucking hate boats (and in a strange twist of irony, I wound up married a man that would wind up working on a boat for much of his career-just my fucking luck). I also knew that I wouldn't feel comfortable grieving in front of this guy that was an absolute stranger to me. My sister argued that she and Dad, only weeks earlier had a conversation about how much he loved San Diego when he lived there in the late 60s. However, Kay was quick to point out, if he loved it so much, why did he leave it? Ha! In the end it seemed like a giant hassle to do something that none of us really wanted to do. 

Note: After dating a mere six weeks, I had the chance to me Skippy in person, at my Dad's "Celebration of Life" ceremony (Dad- In case you have the internet wherever you are, it was NOT a funeral, per your explicit instructions. We had a celebration of life party for you, ok? Geez, get over it!) I also had the opportunity to view the new tattoo Skippy had gotten on his back the week before. It was the face of a beautiful woman. A woman that bore an uncanny resemblance to my sister. Yes, that's right, the 50 year old, guy-that-lives-Sonny Crockett-style on a houseboat was just wacky enough to get a tattoo on his back of a woman that he'd been dating less than two months. My estimation of him as "iffy" was right-on and I'm thankful Dad didn't like San Diego more or who knows what would have happened if we had let Skippy throw us a funeral out on the deep seas.

And now you know why Dad remains (or Dad's remains remain) in my closet. 

Believe me, it is super tempting to put him on the mantel just to screw with the tall guy but then the little people might have questions about what's in the box and then there'd have to be a serious discussion. And then they'd be up late at night crying about Grandpa in the box and I'd have to stay up late and that would seriously cut into my drinking time. And watching Tosh reruns. 

But the question remains...what do I do with Dad?

Still taking suggestions but please, please, please, don't offer to throw us a funeral, ok?

*Names have been changed in order to protect the recently tattoed innocent


  1. I loved this post. Did your dad like trees? Maybe you could plant a tree and dump him in the hole before you put the tree in. Then, he could fertilize the tree and "live on" or what have you... Just don't plant a fruit tree; that would be nasty.

  2. Yeah, I think he liked trees.
    I mean, I never heard him say an unkind word about them (unlike say, his disdain for the "deadly" highway between Phoenix and Las Vegas or David Letterman's interviewing skills before his show went prime-time).
    I like the tree thing...will keep you posted....Thanks!!