Part 2 of the Funeral Home event........ Sunday 21 July '02
show detailsApr 2
Here we are in the casket showroom..... I have at some point been told that we could have an open casket for which I'm eternally grateful. If that had not been the case I would have insisted on seeing Joe anyway. I brought him into this world and I needed to say a proper goodbye. I needed to kiss him, love him, touch him and hold him. He is my child, my only child.
I kept gravitating toward the shiny, sleek looking caskets for some reason. I guess if my child has to be shot off to Heaven without a moments notice it might as well be in something that resembles a spaceship. Tom reels me back in and suggests that Joe was an oak type of guy. There right in front of us is a lovely, burnished oak coffin with a masculine looking lining and pillow. The shopping trip is over and not a moment too soon. I'm feeling really weak. So........ now it's time to choose the flowers and the music. I cannot for the life of me remember the flowers I chose (I think it was something in red, white and blue) , but I did decide to have his coffin draped with the American flag and the main floral thing displayed on a stand. I requested three white rose buds to be placed in his hands to represent the three surviving innocent young children. The music that was chosen was Amazing Grace, The Battle Hymn of the Republic and the Navy Hymn - in deference to Jim even though the Marine Corps (Joe was in the Marine Corps for 6 years) is part of the Department of the Navy! I look back now and realize that Joe, Sr. had virtually no input. I made all of the decisions. But then again I was the one who raised my child by myself from the time he was five years old. His father was a weekend "Disneyland" dad.
As we came out of the funeral home there was the attorney/cousin of Janet's. In the trunk of his car were all of the little suitcases that had been recovered from the crash site. Amongst the belongings were Joe's custom made Titanium golf clubs. He had just had them made a couple of months before he played in the Memphis Open not long before his death. He had a golf date here with my accountant at a new course just a couple of miles from my house. Joe was an avid golfer. He started playing when he was 8 or 9 years old! Anyway...... there will be many times that I'll get off the beaten track as thoughts and little facts come to me.
We start sorting through the stuff and of course I knew which bag was Joe's. Then Bayli's because the little girl clothes were so small. Andrew's and Cameron's was easy. Janet's mom and dad had already claimed hers. When it came to the last two I remember saying when we looked in Jessica's "this can't be Laura's, she would never wear shoes like that". So we claimed what was "ours" and put everything in the trunk of Tom's rental car.
Now we are off to Memphis to Joe and Janet's home to try to choose clothes for Joe to be buried in. Janet's mom and dad were with the cousin/attorney leading the way in his car. They, too, have clothes to be chosen..................on the journey we pass the site of the crash. An hour and a half later we pull up in front of Joe and Janet's new home (they haven't even finished unpacking). On the front lawn are ribbons, balloons, teddy bears and a plethora of memorial things that friends, neighbors, church people and strangers have brought. The entire state of Tennessee is in a state of shock and mourning for this beautiful little family that the neighbors call the "Brady Bunch" that has met a horrific fate on a "trip to grandma's house". That is how this event is dubbed over and over again in the news and even in the courtroom 18 months later. A trip to grandma's house.
It's funny... somehow I liken this to my first experience with marijuana when I was 25 or so. I'm stoned. I'm having an out-of-body experience. I'm hovering and looking below at the events. Surrealism at it's finest!
Thank you again for letting me tell my story. Not so much for "letting" me, but for caring enough to listen........