On a particularly cold, dry day, with the sun shining and smiling down on us, one of my beautiful daughters (I have four, in case you forgot) and myself realize it’s too early in the morning for decision making of such monumental magnitude. But alas, we must rise to the challenge.
Folks have risen to the challenge millions of times before this day and this challenge shall continue in perpetuity. My daughter is sitting next to me, we are offered a drink, I go for coffee black, she asks for room temperature water. On the huge, very shiny wooden table, sits a bowl of peppermint candies and a pencil holder filled with pens. I look at her with questioning eyes, hoping she does not judge me for snagging a few (OK, four) candies. I restrained myself from snagging any pens, as they were not colorful enough to be considered for the snag.
Star of David or no Star of David? What to replace this with, is “tahkeh” (actually) a mind bender of a question. Then there is a clever, loving script. The more words, the smaller the print. So, I must decide if I want visitors to squint, or not to squint. Squinting means more verbiage; less verbiage means no squinting necessary.
So many decisions, so much coffee is required.
Line one: English first and last name.
Line two: Hebrew first name followed by haCohen.
Lines three, four, five and six are a bit more complicated. On this, a sundrenched day, and at this early hour, it is a process requiring much deliberate thought.
Sitting with us at this beautiful wooden table, and particularly uncomfortable chairs, is a newbie. By that I mean he is young, about to be married, and in this industry a mere three months. The meeting is led by a more experienced member of the industry, with 13 years of experience. The newbie was assigned to bring us our drinks. Nu vuden? (of course). Let’s name him, John, and the other fella, Bob.
Both had great senses of humor, which alleviated much of the angst I was experiencing. Bob kept reminding us that he was the creative one in the room. Bob played on the computer, to show us all the available possibilities we can choose from. He insisted on letting us know which designs were the most popular. I tried to explain, more than once, I am not a “follow the crowd” kind of girl. He finally got it, the lightbulb in his brain clicked on, I could tell by the light in his eyes, and he suddenly became more open to suggestions; by that, I refer to my suggestions. I feel I must acknowledge; the newbie did try to help me ‘get’ to him.
Were you aware of the fact that headstones come in a variety of colors? No worries, I did not know this either. Once again, Bob was sure to tell us which color was the most popular color. I am not sure why he was surprised when I did not choose the most popular. Nor did I choose the most popular font. I feel certain, my dear readers, knowing me as well as you do, you would not have been surprised.
Given that I never reveal my age, (yes, I lie) and I am a bit superstitious, I chose NOT to have my name and date of birth inscribed. I chose to leave that particular line blank. When, and if, the time comes, my four daughters, 10 grandbabies, and my four sons in love, will have both the honor and grave responsibility of choice.
Bob, with a wide smile covering most of his face, declared we were just about done. I looked into his eyes and declared “just about done?” Goodness gracious what else could there possibly be to decide?
We were exhausted and I was on coffee overload. He explained we just had one more form to complete. A form for what? I asked impatiently. He showed me the form, no biggie!
When Gene (for whom this meeting at the funeral home was held) and I first met with Bob in 2013, we rose to the occasion of completing all the tasks and making all the decisions for when a funeral is required. We were determined not to burden any of these tasks and decisions on our children. When the time comes, they would have so much to deal with. We both agreed their grieving process must be pure and should not include extraneous administrative work.
And so, my dear readers, there you have it. The way I chose to spend this beautiful cold and sunshine filled morning.
Oh, before I end this missive, I don’t want to forget to say: Have a nourishing Thanksgiving, and a joyous Chanukah!