Daily life as a mortician is usually characterized by steady ennui peppered with the occasional what the hell moment. It’s those what the hell moments that keep one addicted to a job in death.
Today’s moment is courtesy Lisa, who I helped with her father’s cremation about a month ago. Since that time she’s been steadily calling me from her farm in the middle of nowhere South with questions. Unfortunately, these “questions” always turn into totally unrelated sermons on her life. Previous topics include: her truck driving career, her mother’s fainting spells, her views on shrubbery along America’s interstates, etc.
On today’s call, when she wandered a bit off course I took the liberty of taking notes. The call was ostensibly about amending copies of her father’s death certificate. Then the topic turned to her mother.
“Caitlin, you have to understand my mother was and is certifiably insane. She would come at you with knives and whatever she could find. As a child I had knick knacks. You know, little glass and ceramic horses. She would smash them to pieces.
I was always the black sheep of the family.
I left when I was still young. I couldn’t take it anymore. Got on my pony and left. I had 26 gerbils in a paper sack and I was off. I stayed with friends along the way. Sometimes the gerbils would escape in the places I stayed. My gift to them I guess, for helping me out when I had no family.”
To recap: She ran away from home at a young age riding a getaway pony, carrying a sack of 26 gerbils.
And the thing is, I totally believe her.