Friday, May 26, 2006

Me and Urn!

The Fat Controller has finally been collected. For those of you who have no idea what on earth I'm talking about, read this post. If you want to know who I'm talking about read this post. Now I have to warn those of you with a sensitive nature that this post may not be to your liking, however this is 'life' so get on with it. Yes I am a saint but that doesn't stop me from being a little irreverent, sometimes you have to give life a poke in the eye.

Mrs Beeton, (my mother in law), has not been coping too well since the Fat Controller departed. Not well at all. Understandable in the main as they were together for seventy years. Still it is hard to deal with an eighty five year old juvenile at times. Especially as she is hell bent on carrying on without the slightest acknowledgement that anyone other than herself has recently been bereaved.

Throughout their marriage and particularly in the later years the Fat Controller took charge of the finances, decisions and just about anything that carried any responsibility. Mrs Beeton on the other hand took care of the shopping list and cooking. However shopping was a joint affair as she never left the house without the Fat Controller, never!! She was completely dependent on him, she doesn't drive, she never had to make any decisions other than where to do the shopping or what to wear each day. The full extent of her dependence has only come to light in the aftermath of the Fat Controllers demise.

Caring for Mrs Beeton has, it has to be said, been a strain. She has substituted his Lordship and I for the Fat Controller. She refuses to make any decisions whatsoever, if pressed she simply looks the other way and changes the subject. I am the chauffeur, appointment maker, shopping companion and general dogsbody. His Lordship now commands the finances and official matters, that's because he's a man, and no he and I did not choose these roles, they have been bestowed by Mrs Beeton. Myself and the other family members are not permitted to take care of anything arriving in a brown envelope. We tried, when his Lordship was working away for a week, but she started to hide the mail only to produce it on his return. He has now resigned himself to this duty.

And so I return to my original statement, the Fat Controller has finally been collected. After much digressing. It has been almost three months, three months that he has been sitting on a shelf, I assume, at the funeral directors' waiting patiently for someone to collect him. The hold up has of course been Mrs Beeton, another decision discarded and blanked. Sorry I forgot to point out that it is his ashes that I am talking about, 'he' hasn't been sitting on a shelf for three months... ugh!! So taking matters into my own hands I decided it was time to go and get him.

With no direction from Mrs Beeton I decided the best thing would be to bring him back to our house and take it from there. Just one slight concern however, I wasn't sure how he would be 'packaged'. Ok so I don't have a great deal of experience in these matters. You see when the subject was raised whilst arranging the funeral, Mrs Beeton went into hysterics at the mention of ashes, urns etc, so the subject was put on hold... indefinitely. So it was with some trepidation that I arranged to have him dropped off at the Captain's house. Whilst waiting for him to arrive, my sister, the Captain and I were discussing the 'packaging' options. Wooden box! Plastic bag! I didn't fancy the idea of a plastic bag, but the Captain helpfully suggested tuppaware if that were the case. However on reflection we all agreed that it might not be the best solution. What with moves afoot soon and all the packing/unpacking confusion I may loose track of him, which could result in him being served up in a cake if he ends up in the wrong cupboard!

Our meanderings of the mind were cut short when the door bell rang. Standing on the doorstep 'hugging' the Fat Controller was the funeral director, he wouldn't have minded as the funeral director is actually a very nice young woman, and I was immediately relieved to note that he was not in a jiffy bag, or shrink wrapped. He was in a sturdy green plastic tub contained in a very nice purple velvet bag. Phew. The nice young funeral director carefully held onto him as she explained the options we had for what to do with him next.

"You could store him until Mrs Beeton is ready to join him,"
Hmm, a matching pair for the mantelpiece, I like symmetry.

"You can scatter him somewhere he liked, but you must get permission from the land owner first," I'm not sure that Morrisons supermarket would be too taken with us scattering him up the b.o.g.o.f.f. aisle.

"You can have him interred in a family burial plot, you'll need permission again and a certificate from the crematorium."
I discovered that's to prevent someone from burying naughty substances etc for later use. I don't think anyone would get very high snorting the Fat Controller though. Having once had a faceful of my friends late husband, it was a windy day but that's another story, it didn't do anything for me.

"You can of course bury him in your own garden, but if you move and someone else is living there it could be a bit disconcerting if they discover him in among the roses."
I'll say.

"One suggestion that a lot of people seem to like to do is to bury them in a large plant pot. Then you can take them with you wherever you go. Put a nice plant on top."
That sounds great, shove him in a nice big ornamental urn and plant him up with some nice crysanthes, or herbs, actually maybe not the herbs. When the time comes we could have a matching pair, one either side of the door!

Until that time however, as Mrs Beeton is not ready to make any decision on his future and she is definitely not ready to join him just yet, I will have to find an alternative to the above. So far he has made a wonderful hat stand, been used as added weight when gluing a drawer front back onto the drawer, weighted down the bin lid to stop the dogs rummaging and he makes a damn fine door stop to boot.

13 at confession:

joss said...

You know its kind of warming that once gone we can still find purpose, even after being reduced to ash.

Nikki said...

I don't know if I should be laughing or supposed to be laughing...but I am laughing. hard.

St Jude said...

Joss: I think so too.

Nikki: You go for it girl.

kim said...

Im outing myself here as a stalker, I followed nikki here a while back :)~ And today while I played hookey from work I went back and read a lot of your posts. You are a fantastic writer and damn funny on top of it! I love your list of Players and the nicknames ...too damn funny!
Real quick I just wanted to say.. I understand completely. My father was a lot like the Fat Controller.. my mother was lost when he died. She has been unable to make a decision about the ashes (5 yrs later)and were still trying.

St Jude said...

Kim: Aw, I'm blushing, thank you so much. So I've probably got a the Fat Controller for a long time yet then?

By the way feel free to stalk whenever you like.

Kim Ayres said...

My grandmother's ashes got carried around for years because no one knew what to do with them. It's quite a saga in it's own right and one day I may well get round to writing it all down.

In brief though, after my grandfather was buried in Gloucestershire around 1986, my grandmother ended up moving in with my parents a couple of years later when they came up to Scotland. Around 1992 she died and was cremated and the ashes sat in a box in the back of the car for more than a year until they were able to pass them on to my uncle who lived in Devon (my sister joked about 'taking Nana for a drive' when she would borrow my parent's car). The plan was to have the ashes buried in with my grandfather, or at least scattered over his grave, but between the church wanting to charge money for this act and my uncle living 100 miles away from the grave, the ashes stayed in the box for another decade.

When my mother died 3 years back and we had a ceremony to scatter her ashes on a clifftop (you can find the story on my site if you check the sidebar) my uncle rather crassly suggested we scatter my grandmother's at the same time, which would have completely detracted from the grieving process of my recently deceased mother.

However, what I did do is take the ashes from my uncle, and on the way back to Scotland my wife and I called in at the cemetary and scattered the ashes over my grandfather's grave while no one was about. We laid fresh flowers and contemplated for a while (we are not religious) then headed home.

You have to laugh maniacally at these things

Cherrypie said...

Congratulations on dealing with an unpleasant situation in a warm, funny but compassionate way.

I'm a trained bereavement counsellor in my spare time, for fun, amongst other things and have managed a Probate dept for many years so I have some insight into what you are up against with Mrs Beeton. Try and get her to call Cruse - they've got some great people in your area, and whilst she might be reluctant to talk to a stranger initially, I can guarantee she'll be looking forward to that hour all week before long. She'll talk the ears off the poor counsellor about things that she'd never be able to say to any of you or even the Fat Controller.

St Jude said...

Kim: My lovely mum is waiting for my dad. "Sorry Captain, no rush you understand." The Captain has told my brother what he wants.

The red tape and families can take their toll. At least you nana got to be with her beloved.

Cherrypie: Thank you. I have spoken to her, Mrs Beeton, about bereavement counselling, but at the moment she is not 'listening'. I will continue to 'leave the door ajar' and hope that at some point she may want to talk. It's early days still.

Pete said...

My parents have already told me what to do. It wasn't related to Mum's cancer but after one of my dad's brothers funerals.

They are being scattered somewhere. Hope the queen doesn't mind but i can do it undercover of darkness at the Sandringham estate!!

St Jude said...

Pete: cloak and dagger stuff. Just watch out for those security chaps.

WBS said...

My wifes mum is in almost the same position - that's to say just about three feet to the left of the TV, just by the potted plant and slightly to the right of the sideboard.

Her brother is currently the responsible adult, it will be our turn in a year or so. We've already had conversations like "she could go here so she can see the TV and out of the window".

My parents, who are both still plotting their revenge, have a much more pragmatic view of things and want their ashes in the graveyard next door to their house. As my dad said, people won't have far to come for their tea.

Attila The Mom said...

Jude, you are absolutely priceless!

Kate said...

My Grandparents were cremated and their ashes were scattered in a memorial garden next the crematorium. It worked for us, because the family is spread out all over the country, so the garden acts as a focus.

On the other hand, when my Great Grandma died, she expressed a wish for her ashes to be interred with my great Grandad. Unfortunately, he was buried some distance away, so she spent a couple of years in my Gran's display cabinet. Every so often a visitor would comment on the 'nice vase' then look gobsmacked when they found out what it contained LOL

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