In Loving Memory was first published in in Vine Leaves, July 2014
Yeah, thanks. I’m doing ok. It’s hard to believe. It was a staph infection, and I thought he’d recover. But he was still weak from the last surgery. He was 82. Ha! He looked 92 the last couple of years.
I don’t get his pension, so I’ve lost five thou a month. And I just bought us new beds. And my teeth, I have all these implants that I still have to pay for. And I’ve got loans, interest-free, so why pay them off, huh? But I’m going to have to sell my Corvette.
I never liked this house, and it needs all kinds of work. I hate this town—I always have—when I get the house fixed up I’m going to sell it and move to L.A. I can go back to work there and make good money. They’ll just stop my pension until I retire again.
I keep myself busy. I’ve got my son here, and he’s not working. He needs dental work too. He chews that tobacco stuff and I keep telling him he’s going to get mouth cancer. When I quit smoking I just used the patch and that was that. I told him if he doesn’t stop he’s going to be out on the street.
My daughter’s boyfriend is worth a couple of million but he won’t give her anything. He’s so cheap. She’s always broke so I’m going to have to send her money to get her up here for Frankie’s funeral. I mean he wasn’t her father, but they got along pretty good, and she should come for my sake anyway, don’t you think?
I help them all. What can I do? I help people. That’s how I am. Maybe it’s time to start helping myself. But I’m not selfish. Frank was selfish—with me, with everyone. And he was no picnic to live with, especially these last years. Just a crotchety old man. My dad was never like that.
They asked if I wanted to say “my loving husband” on his gravestone. I said no, because he wasn’t a loving husband. If it wasn’t true, I’m not going to say it, even if he’s dead. I won’t lie. I hate liars and cheaters. If I said “in loving memory,” that would be ok, you think?
I have his family photos—what am I going to do with them? I want to give them to his nieces and nephews. He was going to give them his share of the house, but I put a stop to that. He didn’t leave me anything else, just a little life insurance.
I want to get rid of everything. Except my grand piano. And my player piano. And this Chinese hutch. And my books. I’m a big reader. I read all kinds of stuff, like archaeology.
The funeral’s costing me $10,600, and that doesn’t even include opening up the grave site. We already have the space. And then I’ll give a priest $50 to say a few words over it. That’s enough, don’t you think? Frankie didn’t go to church, but he had his private beliefs, and you have to do something or it looks bad.
I’ve ordered some flowers, but not too many. I hope people bring or send flowers. I want it to look nice. You’re sending flowers, aren’t you?
I’ll be 71 next year. Getting old is a bummer, huh?
I don’t go to the gym but I stay busy, and I eat well. And I think positive, you know? They say you live longer that way. And I drink the red wine.
Thanks for calling. You’ll send flowers, right?