BooWho

Things I want to keep in mind.

Category: Kids

Mother’s Day

It was around six in the morning on Mother’s Day.  The phone never rings at this hour.  It is my sister, my mother has passed.  This was expected as she was placed on comfort care through hospice just a few days ago.

We began working through the end stages of her time on this earth, making the arrangements for the final ritual: the funeral.  Our family has been through this several times before as we have had several deaths in the family over the years. We are aware of all the steps: contact the funeral home, choose an item of clothing for the deceased, write the obituary, notify friends and family, choose pall bearers, set date and time for the services, choose readings, songs, flowers. Get through the days prior to the funeral.

A common cliche about death and funerals is this: “They bring out the worst in people”.  You always hope that won’t be the case in your own family but this is a highly emotional time.  People are hurting and suffering, each in their own way.

Because my mother had dementia and has been in a memory care facility for the last three years, we have already taken care of most of the usual processes.  We have already cleaned out her house.  There was no will and no money or property to fight over.  All that is left of her is this one final hoorah.  Can we get through it unscathed?

On the positive side, the people of this valley have been wonderful.  I have felt a little resentful because over the last 5 years, we haven’t seen or heard much from anyone in the church where she spent the majority of her lifetime.  But everyone we have had contact with since her passing has been kind and gracious – expressing such gratitude for all of her hard work and effort over the years.  She had many friends and they do recognize and appreciate how important she was to their church family.  I suspect we will hear many stories about her contributions and kindness over the next few weeks.

I have yet to cry about mom’s passing.  I feel very stoic.  (Maybe I am more like her than I thought?).  In truth, grieving for her has been going on for years.  It is difficult to think of her in terms of what she was before this awful disease.  I will be sorting and processing these feelings for a long time.  I have little pockets of memories and thoughts – I will eventually have to clean them out – kind of like the pockets of your jeans.  Will likely find some treasures and plenty of lint.

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Grandsitting

“The calves don’t have any teeth, so they have to drink milk from their mothers”.

“Why?”

“Because they are just babies.  They suck on the teets and get milk from the cow there.  That’s where we get our milk too – from the cow.   The farmer can milk the cow.”

“Is the cow going to pee again?”

“No, not for awhile”.

“Why?”

“Just because she won’t need to go for awhile”.

This is the conversation from my walk yesterday – with my three year old grandson.  As with all children that age, he asks a million questions and the follow-up question is always, “why”.

As I am walking and talking, I remind myself of my dad.  I talk in his tone and tell my stories as he would have.  I wish he was here.  He would be thrilled to spend time with all of his great-grandchildren.  He would be so proud.

 

I didn’t have a relationship with my grandparents.  Certainly not like my relationship with my grandsons.  My paternal grandparents lived about three miles away and my maternal grandparents lived in Texas.  It wasn’t until I was in college that I realized grandparents sometimes get very involved with their grandchildren.  Several friends from school wrote to their grandparents frequently and actually called them to chat sometimes!

Circumstances in my family were such, that we didn’t have much contact with our paternal grandparents.  They were friendly, but we didn’t really spend much time with them.  I also found out later in life that this was unusual – my other cousins were very close to our grandparents.

The relationship between my mom and her mother-in-law was very strained and contentious – consequently, we rarely spent time with them even though they lived close by.  The first time I remember seeing my grandparents in Texas, I was 12 years old.  We took a family vacation to Texas and we spent about a week there.  My memory of them on that trip was that they were loving but seemed very old.

My mom and dad were very loving and involved grandparents.  They worked hard to spend time with all of their grandchildren.  They also attended as many concerts, games, track meets and activities as they could.  All of their grandchildren have fond memories of grandma and grandpa.

To me, being a grandmother is the best.  I love hearing them squeal my name (Gawee) when they see me.  They run to give me a hug!  Nothing better. I can be silly and talk in voices and accents, I can fall dramatically, play pretend and laugh and giggle to my hearts content.

I have said this before but it bears repeating, being a grandparent is so much easier than being a parent because you have more “free” time, you don’t have to worry about the daily toils of life.  You just get to “be” with them.  And they are so happy to see you, they just want to “be” with you.  At no other time in your life will you have that kind of relationship.  If we are very lucky, that bond will carry over into those pre-teen and teen years when they usually get embarrassed about everything.  I will do my best to evolve into a different type of grandmotherly entertainment (no more dramatic falls) but I will always be there talk and listen and laugh with them.

Wedding banter

The quest begins.  My youngest son is getting married in August.  Must find a dress, just the right color, length, style – one that doesn’t make me look frumpy or slutty, chubby or flabby, too old or too young.  And I’m only the mother of the groom!  Can’t imagine looking for a wedding dress!

I’ve been married twice but both times were a completely different scenario.  In both cases, I was quite poor – no money for big extravagances.  And this was the 80’s in rural Montana – nobody had the big elaborate wedding with 12 bridesmaids,  a circus tent, a live band and a catered meal.  I guess I shouldn’t say “nobody” because I do remember my first “big” wedding in 1979, but she was a transplant from New York.

My first wedding was in a small country church.  My mother made my dress and the bridesmaid dresses.  We had a pot luck dinner at the reception.  My uncle took our photos.  There was no dance, we left early to go on our weekend honeymoon to Coeur D’Alene, ID.  I had to work and he had school on Monday.  We were married in December (what were we thinking?) and Christmas was the following week.  I wasn’t pregnant but we were in a rush to be married.  Two months later, I was pregnant and 4 1/2 years later, we were divorced.  But that is another post.

My second wedding was in July.  We were married by a justice of the peace in the backyard of a friend.  It was a very private ceremony, with just family present.  I wore a dress from JC Penney, white with a pink sash, my husband wore his dark blue suit.  It was a clear, sunny day and the ceremony, while very short, was very romantic.  It was definitely one of the best days ever.  Three of our children were there, the fourth refused to attend.  After the ceremony and lunch, we had a reception/party.  My parents took my kids for the evening and all of our friends came to wish us well.  It was a very fun celebration.  We spent the night in a local hotel, then returned home the next morning to cleanup and get ready for work the next day.  We did eventually take a “honeymoon” when our kids were grown and we’ve been honeymooning as often as we can, ever since.

I have to say, while I think some of the extravagant weddings are just over the top, I do like many of the newer wedding rituals.  Like writing your own vows; having both parents walk down the aisle with the bride and the groom; having a friend perform the ceremony.  And I do enjoy all the activities in a reception, fun speeches, good food and the dancing.

We’ve had two weddings in our yard so far and they were beautiful.  Our daughters are very clever and crafty and did all of the planning and work themselves.  Everything was very romantic and memorable – as all wedding rituals should be.

Now, we’ll have another wedding in our yard.  We live in the country and have a gorgeous view.  We don’t have a lot of money, but the wedding will be nice, romantic and memorable.  There will be friends and family, flowers, tears, dancing and laughter.  What else is there?

Now, on to the hunt for the perfect dress….

 

Early morning reflection…

This is the perfect time of day.  All is quiet.  The ugly gray clouds are retreating to the east leaving a trail of hope for a little bit of sunshine.  Even the cows still slumber.  The only sound I hear is my husband as he turns the page of his morning newspaper.  Oh, and the clicking of my keyboard.

When my children were little, I usually got up early so that I could write a letter before having to get them up for school.  My oldest daughter had a room in the basement, with her own bathroom.  We didn’t see her until she joined us for breakfast.  The others would fight over the heating vents – they would come out in their pj’s and sit with our little chihuahua, Shaq, in front of the vents for warmth until breakfast was ready or until time to get dressed.

When I worked, it was a frenzy getting everyone ready and out the door.  Many times, I would be gone before they were.  I look back at those days and feel a little bit of regret that I wasn’t there to send them off each day.  But I’m grateful for the days that I could and did.  I hope they remember.  (Chances are, they only remember having to get themselves ready, fixing their own breakfast and packing their own lunches, walking out the door on their own and returning to an empty house.  Oh the guilt.)

Parenting is a difficult thing.  Everything is so much clearer after they are grown – mistakes, regrets, wishes for do-overs.  My children are great human beings but I don’t take credit for that – they were all born with an amazing road map of their own and they have done most of their own navigating.  I have picked up a few pieces along the way and tried to nudge them here and there, but they truly were remarkable little people from the very beginning.  Good genes?  Who knows?

Three of my four children are now parents.  I am so impressed with how loving, caring and “present” they are for their children.  They pay attention, they listen, they laugh, they teach and they encourage.  How lucky is this world to have these beings living and learning – to be leaders, to be kind, to be giving.  May they continue to grow and learn and always have strength and love.

In this time where selfishness, ignorance, arrogance and apathy abound, it is refreshing to watch these enlightened human beings navigate our existence.  It is frightening to think of the world they will live in but I have to believe they are here to make a difference, perhaps not in the greater world but in their own little latitude and longitude – and that is the best place to start.

A**holes of divorce

Why can’t they just be normal?  Why can’t they care about their children as much as we do?  Why don’t they ever see the damage they are doing, the lives they are ruining?  But then, that’s part of the reason we chose to abandon the marriage, isn’t it?  We knew they couldn’t or wouldn’t see or do those things.  We realized we were already single mothers and didn’t want their influence on our children.  Those same uninvolved, unaware people suddenly demand inclusion when realizing divorce is imminent.  What a tangled web.

Things are no different than before the divorce except now they are actively pretending to be fathers.  It is painful to watch.  Especially when those are our babies under their care and tutelage.  With no previous experience, true understanding or interest, their parenting is haphazard at best.  No thought is given to proper meals, playtime or a decent bedtime schedules.  The focus is not what is best for the children but what will make it appear that they are the BEST parent.  It is a horrible book of fiction and we keep turning the pages, powerless to rescue our favorite characters.

There is no true “co-parenting”.  You wage the same battles you would have experienced had you stayed married.  This is why women often stay.  It is easier to fight those battles or stay under the radar when you can parent your children silently with only minimal and sporadic interference from a neglectful partner.  But most of us realize that is just existence.  We want an authentic life for us and for our children.  We choose to lean in and get out, hopeful that we have the strength to pursue the more difficult path.

Not surprisingly, we find that we do have the strength. Once the smoke clears and we can see the light of day, the anxiety and fear begin to abate.  It never gets EASIER dealing with the shenanigans of the ex but we get tougher and more savvy as time goes on.  You do the best you can to counter all of the ravages of the custodial visits.  You try to do no further harm.  You try not to think about how much easier this would have been if only that asshole had been hit by a truck…

I can tell you from my own experience: you do survive and you can find the authentic life you deserve. Although, at first, it only comes in small snippets.  Your kids do suffer.  You cry buckets.  You worry endlessly about the kids – Are they safe? Are they scared? Do they know how much you miss them?  Will they tell you they want to go live with him instead?  Are they ruined?  It is a lifelong struggle.  So much pain, so many transgressions.  You will want to throw in the towel – many times.  But you don’t.

One day, your children will know.  They will see.   Until then, you just keep laboring.

Aligning stars

Sometimes, the stars just align.  I tend to fret and worry — old habits die hard.  Usually, there is something during the course of a day that will spark a fear and fan the flames.  I am an over-thinker.  But this weekend was different.  It was very pleasant and joy-filled.

On Saturday, we had a family dinner.  Everyone was there except my oldest daughter and her boys – but then they live 7 hours away.  Quite a drive just for dinner!  Usually, when we get together, there is tension of one kind or another (maybe it is just me overthinking?), but this time it was really nice with no overshadow of angst.  We visited and watched the youngest grandson play, as he went from window to window looking for the “horth” (horse).  We put his snow clothes on and took him outside to play in the snow.  His uncle pulled him on the sled and it was precious.

A little later, his cousin arrived and we all welcomed him with big hugs.  The house filled with small voices and big giggles as the cousins played together and the adults greeted each other.

Our dinners are potluck, so we worked together to get dinner on the table and it was delicious!  The room then filled with big voices and funny banter.  Afterwards, we all gravitated to the family room to watch the two boys run and play.  It was like having dinner and a show.

This was a family dinner that I will remember although nothing monumental occurred.  I can’t even remember what we talked about – but it was just a fun gathering.  We enjoyed each others company and that was most pleasant.

Then, the next morning, I Facetimed with my daughter and two grandsons. They were eager to tell me about their trip to an indoor trampoline park and were so animated and happy.  It was wonderful to see.  I love it when they want to tell me every detail (the youngest one could barely get a word in edgewise but, as always, he acts so happy to see me and that is priceless).  I have missed them and it was good to see their smiling faces.  My oldest grandson has been a little distracted in the last month when we’ve talked – so it was great to have him anxious to talk and tell me about his fun adventure.

Yes, sometimes the stars just align.

Kids are the best teachers

I am a lucky mom.  My kids have been a treasure.  We grew up together.

I had my first child when I was 23.  It was November and I was living about five hours from my family and friends.  I was petrified to bring her home as I had no idea how to care for an infant.  She wasn’t an easy baby, not at first.  She cried every night for about an hour until she was six weeks old.  After that, she was a peach;  happy, smart, adorable and very loving.  We spent every waking moment together and she was my world.

My second child was born when I was 25.  He was a very large baby and very peaceful, rarely cried and quite pleasant.  He had these huge cheeks, wispy blond hair, dark brown eyes and was always happy.  I was much more confident bringing him home but then, at that time, we were living near family.  His sister was not thrilled at his presence.  Oh sure, she thought he was cute, but he took a little bit too much attention…  For six months of his life, we were a fun little trio.  Then, I had to go to work and things got a whole lot more complicated.

I had my third child when I was 30.  In the interim between child 2 and child 3, I had divorced, remarried, and had 2 miscarriages.  She was our little miracle girl.  The smallest baby thus far, she was like a little china doll with fair skin and light brown hair. We were all thrilled at her arrival.  Such a pretty, smart and dainty girl, she was all smiles and giggles.  She adored her siblings and they adored her.

My fourth child was a surprise package I delivered the very next year when I was 31.  He was born a little bigger than child 3 but he looked smaller because he was so thin.  His hair and skin were dark and his eyes were almost black, at first.  The first two months of his life, if he wasn’t sleeping, he was eating.  He eventually filled out very nicely.  Child 3 dubbed him “boy” and that is what we called him for the first few years of his life.  By now, I was an old hat at bringing babies home from the hospital.  I had lots of help and he was an easy baby, very happy, handsome and laidback.

As I look back now, I enjoyed motherhood.  Although at the time, it was very labor intensive and I was constantly filled with self doubt.  I had divorced when child 1 and 2 were very small and I worried about them constantly.  They didn’t see there dad very often and visitation was hard on them.  Also having to deal with a “step” family was an adjustment for them as well.  I was also working full-time and had to shuffle between shift work, babysitters and school.  It was exhausting and my time was spread very thin. Above all, I wanted all four of them to know they were loved but to grow into good citizens, caring people, loving parents.

I often felt inept as a mother and had to learn as they grew.  Lots of mistakes were made and some were corrected on subsequent children.  If I knew then what I know now – wouldn’t it have been better?  If wishes were fishes.

What I do know is that I am very proud of my children.  So much of what they are today has more to do with their own personalities and growth as adults than my abilities as a mother.  They are intelligent and caring people; loving to their partners; great parents – loving to their children but also intent on teaching them to be good people; they have good friends; they are good to each other as siblings.  I am go grateful to have grown up with them.  They taught me so much.

Who really knows?

Parenting is hard.  Not everyone should do it.  There are lots of “manuals” in the form of “self-help” books, thousands of them.  Every theory, every strategy, every study, every child-rearing notion known to man available in print.  Oh, and blogs galore!  Present company included.

I can honestly say that, as a parent, I read my fair share of books.  I also observed other parents and their children to help me decide what was the better plan of attack.  Raising children is like planning a war – preparing for battle each day – and you will all get plenty of battle scars, parent and child alike.  If you are a parent, you know exactly what I mean.  (They don’t want to wear that, they want to wear that.  Put it on and they don’t want to wear that either.  They don’t want to eat that not even one single bite.  They don’t want to read OR to take a nap OR to pee!)  It is exhausting!

My husband and I were very strict with our children.  We had very rigid rules:

  • No screaming unless you are bleeding or dying.
  • You must clean your plate – if you take it, you eat it.  (And you must try everything – at least a small portion)
  • Good manners are important.  No talking with your mouth full.  Say “please” and “thank you”.
  • No fighting!
  • Saturday was chore day – everyone must clean their room (older children had to help younger children)
  • Mom & Dad were in charge and there was NO ARGUING and you should never have to be told something twice.
  • If you are out playing and you hear my whistle – stop what you are doing and come to me. (this still works to this day and they are adults!)
  • If you make a mess, clean up after yourself.

I’m sure there were plenty of others (my kids could probably add to the list) but those are the major rules that I remember.  Of course, in hindsight, I do realize that in some cases we were far too rigid.  Meal times were often very stressful because my husband was adamant that everyone learn those good manners.  We both regret it now — although, they DO have good manners and could make a good showing at a meal with foreign dignitaries – but mealtimes should be a time of sharing and relaxation.

I do know that, as a mother, I needed to have these rules in order to keep my household moving forward.  When I was in my thirties, my friend told me about John Rosemond, an author on parenting.  I bought his book, The Six Point Plan for Raising Happy, Healthy Children.  It helped me immensely!  That was back in 1994 or so — but so many of his ideas remain true (to my mind anyway).

Life has changed.  There is so much technology and lives move much faster.  With divorces, same sex marriages, single parents – the core family looks very different.  There have been many new studies and there are new theories on how to raise children, as a species we continue to evolve in that regard.  But I am old fashioned, I still believe that the parent has to be in charge and while you can be less rigid than we may have been – you still have to call the ball.  You make the rules and you enforce them.  Children need to know that you are watching over them – they may not like it sometimes, but they know where they stand in the grand scheme.

BUT.  Parenting is hard.  Sometimes, you are co-parenting with someone who has no parenting skills.  You spend much of your time doing damage control.  Sometimes, you work a full-time job and are exhausted before you arrive home to your second job – parenting.  Who wants to continue the battle – 24/7?  Take it from me – rules do help.  In this day and age of loving the child and trying not to hinder their spirit – things do get muddled.  Before I understood what my true role as a “mother” was – I wore myself out trying to reason and argue and yell – basically, begging my children to behave.  Rosemond’s book helped me to realize that I was expending all of my energy and they were learning how to ignore me.  I wanted them to behave but I didn’t expect them to do so.

“Tolerant parents repeat themselves, threaten, bluster and otherwise work themselves into a state of frustration that eventually expresses itself in yelling. Intolerant parents do none of that. They are mean. A parent who qualifies as mean does not yell. Said parent is virtually unflappable, which is to say cool, calm, and collected.

From a child’s perspective, a parent (or teacher) is mean if the child discovers that the parent says precisely what he means and means precisely what he says. No means no. It does not mean maybe. “I (parent) want you (child) to do thus and so” means the child is going to do it. It does not mean anything short of that.”  John Rosemond

Once I finally understood this and began to implement this attitude., I was truly amazed at the difference for my stress level.  The kids didn’t like it and it took a while for them to adjust but eventually they knew that the dance had changed.   I would love to say that I was a calm and stern mother for the rest of their young lives – that would be an exaggeration.  I still had moments of doubting myself and falling back into feeling like I needed to let them have their way because I did so love them.  There is a magnitude of outside influences for all of us.  Each one of us has our own road to travel and struggles to endure.  No two children are alike but they can accept (and need) guidelines and boundaries.  They need to know what to expect and what is expected of them.

Even with the manuals, self-help books and advice from scads of sources — parenting is hard.  We do the best we can and when we know better, we do better.  It’s all in the knowing…and who really knows?

Silliness is essential

Boogers.  Co-sleeping on just 12″ of bed.  Running.  Hiding.  Laughing.  Speaking with a british accent or a very high, strawberry shortcake voice.  The joys of gawee-hood.  Seeing those happy little faces and hearing them squeal your name in delight is beyond precious.  Even before they can speak your name, they wrinkle their noses and smile, waving their arms in glee.  And when those arms reach for you….priceless.

Being a gawee is so much easier than being a mother ever was…there aren’t the competing impediments and anxieties of household chores, jobs, daycare issues, school necessities, clothing inadequacies, financial balancing and just sheer exhaustion from keeping all those balls in the air – day in and day out.  When you are the gawee, you can just PLAY.

I am a very silly gawee.  I am still young (or so I like to think) and I will run, jump and do goofy things just to hear them giggle.  I don’t mind climbing into small areas and pretending it is a cave or that a bed is a boat or that playdoh is dinner.  I will sing off key, making up the words as I go; and holler at the imaginary lions.   But that isn’t half the fun – the true joy is in how they react and join-in.  Watching them use their imaginations, when they stare at my face and try to match my enthusiasm.  Together, we will quote important lines from Disney movies or we will talk about wild animals on the trails as we walk.  When they get tired and ask me to carry them, I ask if they can carry me instead.  I try, unsuccessfully, to crawl into their arms while they laugh and do their best to lift me.  We also tell stories in the bathroom – as a practice routine for potty training.  They will be on the commode and I will sit on the footstool and tell them exaggerated stories while they relax and go “poo”.  They always offer to do the same for me – but I have a pretty well-established routine by now.

As they get older, I know they won’t have the same reactions and desires for frolic and imaginary games.  Life happens and other influences come into play.  The thought of them out-growing Gawee is heartbreaking.  Oh, I know, they will always love me and we will always have a fond, heartfelt relationship but there will eventually be other friends, activities, interests, peers, and the need for independence from old, sillier days as they grow older and go to school.  The most important part of that shift, from giggly toddler to school-age child, is for them to know that I will always be in their corner.  (I don’t HAVE to be silly, but I can be at a moments’ notice).

For now, I will bask in the joy of their adoration.  We will play, laugh, wrestle and run.  I hope to teach them that playing is a lifelong enchantment, one for which they should never feel shame.   And when those sweet and sticky little hands encircle my neck – I know I am living the best life.

The gift of peace

My mother-in-law passed away peacefully on June 10.  She was in hospice care for one week.  I hope she has gotten back to her bridge club.

Funerals are difficult and no one likes attending them.  It is a time to say goodbye; to show support for family or friends; a time to reflect on the life and times shared with the dearly departed.  Depending on the person, a funeral can be very personal or very religious or very long or very short and not so sweet or a combination of all the above.  There can be music, prayers, readings, masses, poems, speeches, fire and brimstone, tearful goodbyes.

My family lost four important members in a 4 year succession.  We learned a lot about funerals and how to plan and implement a decent, respectful and personal service.  There are so many details that you just don’t know about – so many choices to make.  What type of service?  Where will it be held?  Who will preside? Will there be a viewing?  Casket or urn?   Flowers? Special program for the service? Who will write the obituary?   Where will they be laid to rest? Who will be pall bearers?  Will there be a reception afterwards?  Where will it be held?  Who will bring food?

These are all details that people have to think of when they are at their weakest and most vulnerable.  For some of us, having something constructive to “do” actually helps.   For others, it is overwhelming.  It is a very emotional and raw time.

In the case of my mother-in-law, she requested a full catholic mass.  She belonged to a large church and the priest did not know her personally.  The service was typical of a full mass and because the priest knew nothing about her, he read her obituary during the sermon portion of the service.  He mispronounced her name and the name of her home town (Butt? Montana).  He had not read through the obituary beforehand so it was read in a choppy manner and it was hard to understand.  It was supposed to be a celebration of her life and it really wasn’t.  Fortunately, at the reception afterwards, the family held a more personal service in remembrance of their mother.

There is a saying, “Funerals bring out the worst in people”.  Families have broken apart in the aftermath of a funeral – the loss of a loved one and the arguments that ensue.  Past hurts come to the forefront and the battle over material things can be a detriment to most families.   Wars are waged and lines drawn in the sand over grandma’s crystal gravy boat or the diamond dinner ring.  It just isn’t worth it but it happens frequently.  Having a will is very important for legal reasons but it is the responsibility of the survivors to deal with division of property and personal items with consideration for each other and in honor of the memory of the departed.

I realized after my dad’s funeral that it is important to think about, and to make known, what your wishes are prior to your death.   But it will save your family a lot of stress if you also plan what you want as a final goodbye.  I have a file titled – “when I die” and it talks about what I want for a service.  It is not overly specific, just little tidbits.  Songs I like, that have special meaning to me; things I feel would be nice to say about my personality; my feelings about religion; how much I love my kids,  grandkids and my husband.  Most importantly, I have included my wishes that my children stay close – rely on each other – no matter what.

I’ve heard it said that it is morbid and depressing to think and talk about those things.  I don’t feel it is because it provides clear instructions for your loved ones and saves them the stress of having to wonder what you would prefer.  It can be as specific or generalized as you want it to be.  In truth, there are so many things that we don’t know about each other and that we don’t normally share.  I’m certain that my mother, who now has dementia/alzheimers, had no idea that she would never have the chance to say the many things that she was saving for “someday”.   There are so many things about her that we don’t know, she never shared, and now there is no one to ask.

It is sad to think of your final days, your final resting place, leaving those you love behind.  None of us knows WHEN that will happen, but we do know that it WILL happen.  To provide a means of saying a final goodbye and of saving your loved ones from that difficult process is truly a gift.  Your final wishes conveyed in black and white will give all of you peace.