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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Something Happened On The Way To Heaven

A funny thing happened that I forgot to mention. Poor Mr. Lane… again he is the butt of the joke. It isn’t my fault he makes it so easy. Anyhow, we were just about finished getting all of our things into the truck for our big move and my old man pulled a disappearing act. It isn’t unusual by any means. He hides all of the time. The garage has always been his favorite place to hide from my honey-do-lists.

Since I always seem to find him in there, one might think he would try another location. But Mr. Lane, well, he isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer. I quietly walked into the garage and sure enough, there he was.

His hands were on his hips and he was looking up at a shelf. A few things left to pack into the truck sat atop that shelf. There was a small box and an old burlap sac. I could practically see his wheels cranking, but had no idea what was going on inside of that head of his. I stood watching him for a while. Finally, I cleared my throat. His thinking look turned into a concerned look. He stammered a bit trying to find the right words.

“What?” I asked.

“Well, it’s just… I mean…”

“Spit it out, honey.”

“Juanita, does she have to go with us?”

Inside I was laughing so hard I could barely breathe. Outside I was calm, cool and collected. The items remaining on the shelf belonged to a friend of mine. She passed away about seven years ago. Since she didn’t have any family, I took care of her and the few things she cherished, like the stuff on the garage shelf.

Poor Mr. Lane was under the assumption that Juanita’s ashes have been in our garage for all of these years. I did have her ashes for a couple of weeks after she passed away. But after I held a memorial service for her at the local cemetery, where she’d volunteered for decades, they agreed to bury her ashes at no cost. Had my old man attended the service, or listened to anything I said at the time, he might have known that tidbit of information.

“Of course we are taking her to the new house! How could I leave Juanita behind?”

“But babe, it’s not like she is in a beautiful urn. It’s not like she is a cherished family member. She has been on a shelf in our garage for years, and she is all dusty.”

“Just because having her in the house freaked you out! Dust her off and let’s go.”

“But, babe… I guess it did bother me a little.”

Juanita was a great person. She was loud and rowdy, funny and full of spunk, which are some of the reasons I felt comfortable joking about her ashes. She believed, like I do, that when you are dead, your body is just an encasement that has nothing to do with your spirit. In fact, she told me that if I wanted to take her ashes and dump them on the mayor’s lawn, since she hated him that would be okay.

You know how married people have occasional issues with sex? It seems pretty commonplace for one to be “in the mood” while the other isn’t. Anyhow, during those times in the weeks that her ashes were at our house, when Mr. Lane was in the mood, and I wasn’t, I made sure to have her ashes in our bedroom. It was like a get out of jail free card. I would casually walk over to the dresser, tap the box and say, “Goodnight Juanita,” and I would be free and clear.

One night it was really hot and I opened the bedroom door but the cross breeze from the windows being open, caused the door to repeatedly slam shut. Something about a breeze on bare skin riled up my old man, but I was exhausted that day and really just wanted to sleep. So, I took the box of Juanita’s ashes and propped the door open with it. Mr. Lane was appalled and suddenly felt less tingly.

Anyhow, there were plenty of times I tormented him with her ashes and he was mortified. The thought of a new beginning with ashes from a woman he only met once, obviously was taking its toll.

“Babe, Juanita isn’t in there. That bag and box are just things that she cherished that I am not ready to dispose of. Her ashes were buried years ago.”

“Are you kidding me?”


“Man! Every time I’ve walked into this garage, I’ve said, ‘Hi Juanita,’ to stuff that isn’t Juanita?”

“Hahaha! I guess so.”

“Well, I guess it’s good that she got buried, but why didn’t you ever tell me about that?”

“I did, you just never listened.”


“Yeah, oh. Anyhow, grab Juanita and let’s go home.”

“But you just said…”

“It was a joke, honey, just a little joke.”