Stirring coffee, the sound of the spoon from my childhood home clinking the mug…Dad. The only difference between the two cups, decades apart, the taste. His…instant coffee, two heaping teaspoons of sugar, and a splash of milk…brown sugar water. Mine, dark and rich, the more caffeine the better.
Searching for a photograph…scrolling endless scrolling. Never finding the image I was looking for, but coming across one from when my daughter was obsessed with rolling coins…her piles, her finds of random small objects, Monopoly pieces and subway tokens…blasts from the past. I too loved rolling coins. The feel of oils and dirt from so many strangers, counting, stacking, recounting. Working them into the paper tubes, folding the openings carefully to avoid coin explosions. The weight…rolls and rolls of metal soon to be exchanged for light paper money. Swoon.
Dad…the smell of coffee and shaving cream, the stern voice of the newscaster, the swish swish of his tie as he centered and pulled it tight…mornings. Returning home, looking through the mail, to the kitchen for a kiss with mom, putting loose change from his pockets into the brown glass jar before hanging the suit for another day. It was a one way jar, money only went in…until the day he made a deal with us kids (our family was big on deals). If we rolled the coins, we would use the money for ice cream on an upcoming vacation. We rolled $173.00 worth of coins…and we got ice cream twice…because spending $173.00 on ice cream is ridiculous no matter what deals have been made.
My dad was born in 1929, he did not waste. He would happily buy an extra house to rent out for profit, spring for a really good steak, or throw a huge party for friends with top of the line liquor…but he did not “throw away money”. Ever.
This morning I saw the blue box-o-dad. Oh the memories…the immediacy, the mortician, laughing to the point of tears. Quick decisions, being engulfed in sadness while really wanting to avoid annoying my dad, it was crazy. My mom talking with him the entire time, Hon, what do you think? Hon, what should we do? We knew spending “big bucks” on a coffin used only for cremation was not ok. Asking to see the least expensive option, we were shown a casket that only Liberace….or a toddler…would choose. Shiny purple satin…with white lace…clearly a marketing ploy to embarrass you into spending more money. After recovering from the mental picture of my dad in that lavender bit of spectacular…we picked an unadorned pine box. Next, with poise and professionalism, the salesman of all things death, showed us box after box for the ashes…gaudy, glitzy…expensive, doing his best Carol Merril from Let’s Make a Deal. Mom got another message from above, Greg should make the box. So we said, thank you Mr Funeral Man, but we will just take the bag-o-dad option and move on. I think that was what sent the poor guy over the edge…he came back with a slate blue plywood box “a transport box”. As we walked out into the Florida sunset, we high fived the the pink sky, knowing we had done it exactly as my dad wanted, simple, sophisticated, and we didn’t “break the bank”.
Dad, sigh. This time of year, pink clouds often greet me each morning and close out each day…I blow a kiss up to you and carry on. Life is good.
One thought on “Coffee, Coins, and Ashes”
This Swoon is beautiful and poetic. Kat, you always manage to help me relive the memories of my childhood. Such great memories. I truly hope we are setting the stage for wonderful memories for our children’s childhood. It would be interesting to hear or read how they remember the last four years (probably me cursing at the TV) and even more so, the year 2020.