He was a day late. I was alone when I got the call from the funeral people that he was ready for pick up. Pick up. I was going to go pick up my husband, really, pick him up, carry him to the car, carefully they said, so he doesn’t fall out the bottom, and bring him home. I put the seat belt around him, I drove him home. In a fog really, as I had been for the last week or so, though I would have denied it at the time. Maybe I still am, in a fog, and denying it.
Like shopping for the urn in the first place. Shopping, like you’ve shopped for things your whole life, except you are standing there looking at urns. To put your husband in. Fancy urns, not so fancy urns, big urns, little matching urns, and you are supposed to choose. Right then, it’s not like you can wait for a sale or shop online. I asked what the little urns were for, at that moment I couldn’t imagine, and was told it was in case you wanted to keep some of the ashes, or give some to loved ones. My son and I looked at each other, and I asked him, “What would Charley say about which body part landed in the little urn?” Nope, I figured let him keep all his body parts. But what to choose.
Charley liked the finer things, always buying the ‘best’, so choosing an urn from the bottom shelf seemed out of the question. The prices went up as the shelves went up. Lower prices on the lower shelves, higher on the upper shelves, I was at a loss, but I had to do something. Maybe I didn’t see the clock at first. Or didn’t realize that the clock was an urn, but it was, and it was perfect. I breathed a sigh of relief, the decision was made. It had been on the next to the top shelf, almost the best, sorry Charley.
He would have hated the fact that the clock was battery operated, a wind-up clock would have suited him better. But I got it home, opened up the face of the clock, and inserted the batteries that came with it. Brought it to life you could say, because it immediately started chiming, LOUDLY! An assault on your ears. Exactly what I might have expected from Charley, letting me know what he thought of all that had happened to him in the last week. The noise startled me, I couldn’t get those batteries out fast enough. I think I laughed first, and cried second, and I left it for my son to set up the clock. Now it chimes softly at 6 AM to start the day, and chimes good night at 10 PM. There is comfort in that soft chiming.
Sometimes I come in the door and I’m greeted by happy dogs, and the clock happens to start chiming, and it makes me happy. Silly I know. It’s always a surprise and never fails to make me smile, and say hello. I don’t feel alone, and I’m happy, even if it isn’t the retirement we expected. He says good morning, he says good night, and sometimes chimes in at the perfect moment in conversations. As he always did. It does seem as if he is participating. But more quietly than in life. Not so much that I’ve had to take his batteries out again…