This morning as I wrapped you around my legs and watched, in a daze, Kensington eat her breakfast Kashi, I realized that the end is closer than we had hoped. Mazha is starting to say things that are not making sense. Some of her forced-whisper statements could just be chalked up to confusion, “I don’t want a bath, I had one yesterday” (which she didn’t), to “I just dropped the cup” as she looked down at her hand that hasn’t been able to hold a cup in over a month followed.
I made a quick trip to the alteration place to pick up our suits and then Simone and I headed out to visit with a couple funeral homes.
The first place we stopped at was a place that Simone and I had both been to a couple times throughout the years. They were very accommodating with their packages… Since Mazha is going to be cremated (with a portion of her ashes spread in the ocean which she loved - except the fear that a shark may attack, which in Gulf of Mexico is a high probability - and a portion spread on her fathers grave) there wasn’t a need for a limousine to transport us to a gravesite. “Is there a way we could use that cost and roll it into a nicer urn, or more flowers?” “We could do that… or do either of you have kids in high school?” Do I look like I’m old enough to have a kid in high school? “Um… no. Why do you ask?” “Well, if you did, we could transfer the use of the limo to a prom or some other event. Anyone getting married soon?” Actually, yes. My niece is. “Marilyn, I do have to ask one question, and I hope this doesn’t seem rude… but please tell me the name of your funeral home isn’t plastered of the back window or along side the limo. Using it in a wedding would just seem, oh, I don’t know… a little tacky.” Thankfully, it wasn’t. So, it’s something to think about. We walked around and looked at the staterooms and the chapel. They all seemed okay, but Simone wasn’t happy with it. When we got in the car she asked me if I had looked at the ceiling of the chapel. “Paul, there was mold. Seriously, mold. How could you not see it?” “If we ask them to keep the lights down low, maybe no one could tell. We could ask the priest just to tell everyone to keep praying so their heads are constantly looking at the floor and not the ceiling.”
GRADE; Pricing = B, Package Choices = A+, Staff = A, Facilities = M (for mold)
The second place we went to was impressive. As we walked through the door, we were greeted with our own personal choir of angels, shipped directly from heaven. Roman columns adorned the hallways and the sitting area was stocked with soft clouds to sit upon. Their pamphlets were created with hand-made paper etched in gold-leaf lettering. Robert greeted us and brought us to the office. He started asking us some general questions about mom, and then we realized that he’s not asking for their general intake form. He’s filling out the death certificate. He starts asking for personal information for Mazha and we said that we didn’t have some of it with us. I grab my blackberry and text Chris to call me in a couple minutes. Robert wanted to know who the ‘informant’ - key contact – was going to be. I let Simone take the reins (thanks sis). She gives him her contact info and the then the phone rings. “Excuse me a second” and I step outside the door, but left it open. “Did you have me call you to get you out of a meeting?” “Yes. Oh. I see. Okay. Tell her to give us tem minutes and well be on our way.” I head back into the room, “Robert, I’m sorry to have to rush this, but the doctor is there with our mom and she wants to meet with the family, so we’re going to have to wrap this up. Can you please go over the packages and show us, quickly, the facility and we’ll get back to you at another time.” “Will you be coming back today?” “Probably not. Maybe tomorrow.”
He brought us into one of the other rooms with the urns and showed us the packages. Well, the lack of packages. “Here is our price list. This is the starting fee, and then all of the different components are listed here on this page. While you can use a rental coffin for the viewing (which most people who are being cremated do, since there is an insert that the body lays in and everything else is just ornamental), you can buy one. Here’s that price list. We recommend that you buy one (and of course he did, for an additional $6,000), and we have a great selection to choose from. Now let me show you the rooms.” The staterooms were all gorgeous, as well was the chapel with stain glass windows. Simone whispered that while it would take some major convincing, this is where Jordan should get married. I agreed. As we headed outside Simone asked if someone really called me or if I made my phone ring. “No, someone really called me.” “Does the doctor really want to see us right now?” “No, that guy was just to high pressured and he was getting on my nerves. You owe me for saving us back there! And by the way, you now have to tell him we’re not using him because he has your cell phone number.” I get a look, followed by, "You ass!"
GRADE; Pricing = C-, Package Choices = D, Staff = F, Facilities = A+
The third and final place that we went to today is next to Simones office. We where greeted by an older man and I told him we had an appointment with Ben. Ben was downstairs (hopefully not embalming someone) and would be with us shortly. I ran to the bathroom since the large sweet-tea that I had about an hour earlier had started to kick in. When I got out, Simone said that she was told this was a great day to be viewing the facility… since the pricing are going up after today. [Great! We’re going to get another hard sells pitch]. That right there put me in a defensive mood. We get in the urn room and Ben goes over the list, in detail. Okay? Where is the hidden cost? We start asking some questions… it’s all included. “Let me itemize it for you so you can see what’s built in.” He pulls out and does the math wrong [Ahah! I say to myself. Here comes the kicker… ] Oh. He’s off only by hundred dollars so he recalculates. Okay… the pricing is good, but how are the facilities? He shows us the staterooms. Nice. Very nice. Simone and I both comment on room number 3. We don’t get our personal angels playing the harp, but the area for the viewing is more than acceptable. We headed to the chapel, and with fingers crossed, I pray for no mold or asbestos. Nothing of the sort. Very nice chapel and it’s glassed in, so if Kensi starts getting loud, someone can take her out, but still see the services.
GRADE; Pricing = A+ Package Choices = A, Staff = B, Facilities = B+ (If we would have seen this place before the second place, it would have been an A, but come on… they had floating clouds and one of those drive-up window tubes that the banks have that shoot the soul directly to heaven.)
When we got back to hospital, Dr. Ferguson did want to speak to the family since this was her last day at this facility for a couple weeks as she was on rotation. She has such a convivial and calming voice. We knew what she was going to say, and would have preferred for the room to remain silent. She told us that she had such high hopes for Mazha when she first saw her two weeks ago, but the disease has rapidly progressed. She said it is most likely that Mazha would pass from an infection/pneumonia because of the way her body is functioning. Her fever isn’t going down and she has water in her lungs. While they’re going to try to dry it up, there isn’t much more that they could do. They would ensure that she wasn’t in pain and that she’s comfortable. Dr. Ferguson was fighting back her own tears. She told us that while she wasn’t going to be here at the facility, she was going to be in town and would only be a phone call away. While she’s only that phone call away, she has been as comforting to this family as you have been.