Jean Lund's Blog

{September 25, 2011}   Mama’s Done Gone and I Done Right by Her-2004
I went to have a manicure and pedicure.  What the hell, I deserve it. While sitting there chatting with another patron, I found out she was a choreographer in the film industry. That wasn’t unusual. After all I was in Studio City, with Universal Studios five minutes away, and Disney, Warner Bros, and several others near by. She happened to be the choreographer for the movie Chicago with Richard Gere which really was cool! I loved that movie. Anyway as we were chatting, somehow we got on the topic of illnesses and I told her the story of my mother’s death. She told me I should write a book. I told her I’ve been working on an autobiography for a while now. This story is just one of many many that people find fascinating about my life. I quite honestly had never found them “fascinating” because I am “living” them, but after having just one too many people tell me after a story (any story) that I need to write a book, I decided to write my life story. So here is the story of my mother Patty’s funeral as told to the choreographer.
I hate mortuaries. I hate them for the way they prey on people’s emotions in order to make a bundle on their services. I always have. Although unprepared for my mothers death two years ago (in fact tomorrow, Sunday will be two years that she was buried so this has been a reflective week), I was prepared in a way I never thought I would use. After her death I went to her local mortuary to “browse” the caskets and found one that I really liked, as much as one can like a casket. It was over $5000.00. I knew it would be a raking over the coals but I told the “salesman” I would be back. Knowing ahead of time what I had planned, I went back to my mother’s and went on-line and went to YUP! No need to clean your glasses You read correctly. I had heard about this on radio advertisements a few years earlier. I found a casket that was very much the same as the one that I had just seen at the mortuary. I called the 800 number and got the owner. The company is in California. He was nice enough to waive the state tax for me. I made the purchase. How much was the casket? Well INCLUDING free overnight shipping………..$1500.00. Yuppers, that’s right! Well now, hells bells, with all that money I saved I had them give Mama a real “perrdy” lining on the inside top that had pink roses and said “World’s Best Mother” for another hundred bucks!
 I went back to the mortuary and told the salesman. You could see the, oh, I don’t know, the ANGER in his eyes…no I think it was more like indignation. After all his commission just flew over the cuckoo’s nest now didn’t it? So with bitterness on his breath he said, “Well we can’t sign for it, YOU will have to be here to sign for it.” I told him no problem, I wasn’t going anywhere, didn’t have anything to do, so I’d be there and I was. But NOW….to add insult to injury….first he had to put a big fat zero in the casket column of the paperwork, but now I see $100 for hair and makeup. Well now, I don’t even pay that much for MY hair and makeup. And the thing is, it’s not that I begrudged my mother the cost of anything…I didn’t, but her and I think alike and after all, she was no longer physically here, but here in spirit. I DID begrudge the gold diggers every red cent they wanted so I told this unhappy camper that he could have his people toucup the roots of her hair, but that *I* would bring the hair dye. Other than that *I* would be fixing her hair and doing her make-up. The look on his face was like he’d seen a ghost,  but I have to tell you, that I got the same ashen look from my grown kids and brother. NO one could believe that I was going to touch a dead body!!! I don’t know but this was my MOTHER…it wasn’t like it was a stranger, and quite honestly that probably wouldn’t have bothered me either because the dead are dead but my faith in God lets me know they are not gone so I am not afraid. But this was my MOTHER. Not just my mother, but my VAIN mother. My mother who was in show business way back in the day and stayed vain until she died. I had seen other family members after the mortuaries got finished with them, including my grandfather who raised me and I didn’t even recognize him in the casket. I thought I had walked into the wrong viewing room. Now I was not about to let anyone touch my mother but ME. So that knocked the $100 bill down to $35 bucks, the poor bastard! ……………………………….
If you haven’t read part one of my story today, please read it first before you continue on with this one regarding my mother’s funeral.
So the day before the funeral I packed up my Mom’s stuff, including her old 60’s hot roller set, that looked older than dirt and her make-up including her false eye lashes      that she wore as far back as I can remember. I carefully and lovingly picked out some casual clothes that all her friends knew her to wear on a regular basis so she would look like everyone remembered her, including family. I then placed her watch and bracelet that she wore every day along with a pair of earrings  in a zip lock baggie and off I trucked to the mortuary. I walked in the door and gave the receptionist my name and told her I was there to prepare my mother. That in itself was a candid camera look and I had to sit and wait a while before I was led back into the room where she was.
I plugged in her hot rollers all the while scolding her for hanging on to the past and asking her why the hell she hadn’t bought a curling iron and a blow dryer. Her response? A roller disintegrated right in the palm of my hand. HA! From time to time someone would come back and trying not to be obvious glance in the open doorway to see how I was I suppose. I don’t know if they expected to find me laying over her in grief stricken sobs or fainted on the floor but I was just fine and to be quite honest with you, I found a huge comfort and felt honored to be the one to make her look as beautiful as she was before she ever got sick, for her parting of this earth. I can cry now when I talk about it but I also smile with pride that I was able to do that for her.
I know that when her close friends, her buddies that she worked along side at Costco, serving up you people samples of food with little white hair nets all heard that I had done her hair and make up. When they saw her, they just cried and cried and told me she looked like she was ready to get up and go to work. THAT my friends is what she and her silly ol’ vain self would have wanted. And that’s not what she would have gotten had I left it to a bunch of strangers who peddle people out the door like an assembly line as they line their pockets with your grief. I handled her funeral, prepared her, wrote and read the eulogy, and took care of friends and family at the house afterward. It was my final goodbye to a tough old bird of a woman and that is probably the best thing I inherited from her. And the best part of all??  I tucked $26,000 credit card debt via all her cards in her pocket and said “Fuck them, let them come get it!”
And so the choreographer said I had a book there……and perhaps she was right. 


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