The Darkest Humor I’ve Ever Experienced

After my mother passed away I’m planning her funeral with my sister and my brother in-law. People handle grief in unique ways. My family drinks lots of vino. The humor tends to run very dark. I guess it’s a coping mechanism.

My sister is on the phone with the funeral home. They suggest an urn that costs fifteen hundred dollars.

My brother in-law, who is cheap, says, “Fifteen hundred bucks? Dude, I can get one on Ebay for ninety nine bucks.”

Then he says, “Look, here’s a lava lamp for fifteen ninety nine. What was her favorite color? Purple? Okay, it comes in purple.”

My sister and I laugh hysterically, fueled by several glasses of pinot grigio. I say, “that is the the darkest thing I’ve ever laughted at.” I wipe away tears from laughing so hard.

Now, my mother was the sweetest person I’ve ever known. She was a piano teacher, choral director and all-around stellar human.

She is the last person on earth who deserves to have her remains placed in a purple lava lamp.

Mom’s remains are in a lovely urn with etchings of flowers.

Ever since then I’ve had an idea to advertise lava lamp urns. “Was your loved one a horrible person? Would you describe them as evil? The Lava Lamp Urn is a perfect urn for you.”

The Time I Kidnapped My Mother

The year was around 2010. My long time friend Megan came with me to visit my mother at an assisted living facility. Mom had full blown Alzheimer’s.

I love my friend Megan but “stable” is not the first adjective that comes to mind when describing her character.

Megan and I are sitting with Mom. She’s non-verbal. Megan says to Mom, “Do you want to go for a drive?” 

That should have been my cue to say, “Are you fucking crazy? Not a good idea. What if she soils herself. This might be considered kidnapping.”

But I didn’t. I took my mother’s hand and walked her to my car. 

We drive around Colonial Williamsburg. Mom has a look of wonder or terror. I can’t tell. She cannot tell either.

We drive to the neighborhood where I grew up. Mom lived in the house for about forty years. We sold it when she moved to the assisted living facility.

We get out of the car. Mom walks up to the flower garden she planted. She’s pulling weeds. I’m waiting for the new occupants to come out to inquire why an elderly stranger is pulling weeds in their garden. 

Megan says, “Let’s knock on the door.” Before I can say, “NO” Megan is knocking on the door.

A tall, dark, handsome guy opens the door. Megan says, “Oh my god Cliff!” at the same time the guy says, “Oh my god Megan!”

Megan says, “This is my cousin Cliff. I cannot believe you live here.”

Cliff welcomes us in.

Megan and Cliff are catching up. Mom makes a b-line to the kitchen. She sits at the kitchen table and starts opening up the stack of mail on the table. Just like she used to do.

Cliff’s roommates are in the next room watching football and drinking beer. They don’t seem to care that a non-verbal stranger is sitting at their kitchen table opening up their mail.

Mom finishes opening every envelope. She gets up and walks out the front door. She goes back to pulling weeds. I go inside to get Megan. Cliff comes out to the porch to say goodbye. Mom is grinning ear to ear. She’s holding a bouquet of purple coneflowers that have dirt-covered roots hanging from them. 

We return to the facility. Mom hands the clumpy bouquet of flowers to a nurse. Megan says, “We gotta go”  and we run away.

George and Barbara Love Letter Therapy

I’m thinking about starting a support group for couples experiencing relationship problems. I’ll call it, “The George and Barbara Motivational Group.”

I’ll start with the letter George Bush wrote when they announced their engagement. “I love you, precious, with all my heart and to know that you love me means my life. How often I have thought about the immeasurable joy that will be ours someday. Goodnite, my beautiful. Every time I say beautiful, you about kill me, but you’ll have to accept it.”

I’ll share my engagement story. “I discovered I was pregnant. I had resolved to never marry again. My husband asks me if I want to get married.”

“I say I guess that makes sense. Insurance and all. Then we got dressed and went to work.”

Then each couple will write each other love letters. If they are unable to feel the love they can pretend they are writing a star they fantasize about.

Bad Call

I tell my thirteen and fifteen year old we’re watching a movie. 

“What’s it about?”

I say, “It’s about a guy obsessed with death. He develops a special relationship with an older woman. They attend funerals together of people they don’t know. They’re funeral hoppers.”

My kids walk away mummbling hmmm.

I don’t know why I got the big idea to watch Harold & Maude with my kids.

Someone mentioned it. It’s one of my favorite movies. I want to show it to the kids.

I drag the kids out of hiding. The first allure for me is the Cat Stevens music. The kids have no connection to Cat Stevens.

My daughter wanders away ten minutes in.

It gets to the scene where Harold’s mother is talking to Candy, a woman she might hook up with Harold. They’re sitting next to a large window. Harold walks underneath a tree and pretends to blow himself up. Candy runs away screaming.

I laugh. I ask my son if he thinks the movie is funny. He says, “WHAT WAS SO FUNNY ABOUT THAT?” and he walks away upset.

I’m thinking the movie was a very bad call on my part. A well-intentioned bad call. 

I can imagine my kids telling their friends, “Yeah well, at least your mother doesn’t make you watch a movie about a guy who fake hangs himself and blows himself up and attends funerals as a hobby.”

Titty Witch

My fifteen year old daughter says, “Mom, my friend started a business. I would like to support her. Can I get this?

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It’s called the Titty Witch shirt.

Now, I’m pretty open-minded. Also, I wore a Save the Bales t-shirt in high school complete with illustrations of bales of marijuana. That’s upper case cringe worthy.

My parents didn’t say anything to me like, “when you are 53 years old and you think back to wearing that shirt you will deeply regret it.”

They probably thought it was a t-shirt in support of Farm Aid.

Anyway, I draw the line at allowing my daughter to display an illustration of titties on her chest.

I’m going to give her the advice I did not get from my parents: “Seriously, don’t wear that. I called the fashion disaster hotline and they agree with me.

Correlation Fail

Back when I was in high school I’m watching the news with my parents. Barbara Bush received the medal of honor from the Daughters of the American Revolution. Mom thought Barbara Bush was the bees knees. She says, “I just love her.”

Then Mom says, “I think President Bush is a decent man. Do you know why I think that? Because he used to be head of the CIA.”

My father and I look at each other and roll our eyes.