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Not A Day Off

by on January 25, 2011

A day off?  You must be friggin joking.  After all of these weeks, these months of dire servitude, I just don’t believe it.  Hmmm…let’s think about this for a moment:  What else do I need to do?  I have a list of must-do’s that have been ignored for months now.  What’s on the top of the list?  Oh crap.  I know what I have to do.

I set appointments with representatives from Rose Hills and Fukui Mortuary.

I’ve planned and run weddings, birthdays, dozens of different social events for hundreds of people, and even the odd casino night or two but I’ve never planned a funeral service before.  I went online and it quickly became obvious to me that it could easily be as complicated as a wedding.  At least at a wedding, you’d have a list of RSVP’s and can plan accordingly.  A funeral is a very different dynamic. 

There I go again, acting like it’s some sort of project I have to choreograph.  “Enter stage left.  Cue lights.  Cue music.”  These meetings are going to suck.  I’m going to have to handle it like this for the time being.  I apologize for it being so crass.

Satomi and I spoke about her service several times these past weeks.  It initially was something we avoided.  While Sandra was still visiting, during a period of unusual clarity, Satomi said “…when are we going to talk about my service?”  Sandra burst into tears and I sat shocked. 

A few days later, she asked again.  This time, I had an answer for her:

  • Service
  • Cremation
  • Dump half in Hawaii
  • Keep some for the girls
  • Put the rest in a jar in the frig next to the Kim Chi

She laughed and nodded. 

A few days later she asked again.  Apparently she forgot our previous in-depth discussion.

I repeated myself again but this time with a bit more detail.

  • A service of some kind.  Not sure what yet.  She agreed.
  • Is Cremation Ok?  “OK”, she says.
  • The girls and I will travel to Hawaii and disperse your ashes on her favorite beach-Lani Kai near Kailua.  She smiled.
  • Put a small amount of ashes in keepsake urns and given them to our girls when they are older.  She nodded.
  • Keep the rest of the ashes here at home in an urn in the refrigerator next to the Kim Chi jar.  She laughed again.

So that’s all the info I had.  I’d have to research the rest.

The Rose Hills lady was nice and their coffee was good.  We looked at pretty pictures of their huge property and spoke of the service.  The problem was that I had no idea what I wanted for the service-just a few ideas.

  • The chapel has to be big-something like 300+.  Overflow is fine in an emergency but to knowingly pick a small chapel is just tacky.
  • There’s to be an open casket viewing beforehand and during the Service and people can place mementos in the casket.
  • Afterward, I don’t want to go to a Chinese restaurant like at most other funerals.  I want some catered food in a large room with big tables so people can move around and talk about Satomi’s life.  Maybe there’s even going to be a slide show or something.

It was good information but in the end, it felt like I was buying a car.  The truth is that I’m considering them since they are the biggest around and her Dad is buried there.  All in for the service, chapel, mortuary service, a bunch of permits/certificates, and some decent urns was just south of $5,000.  This doesn’t include the social gathering afterward, anything paid to the Pastor, the plot/niche, or maintenance fees. 

A niche in an outside wall starts at $4,000 and can exceed double that.  A plot is $8,000 and up.  Wow that’s expensive but I guess it’s real estate so I shouldn’t be shocked.  I’m going to have to talk with Satomi about her wishes.

The other problem is that I had no one to do the Service.  I wasn’t about to ask a friend or family member to do it.  I’m going to have to return to that one.

I had a few hours until my Fukui meeting downtown so I stopped in for a quick haircut.  I told my Stylist about my day and my lack of a Pastor.  She immediately stopped me and said, “I got the solution to your problem!  Use our Pastor.  She’s a sweet JA lady Pastor and would be perfect.”  My Stylist continued “…just the other week, we had a 400 person service at our church and we work with Fukui all the time.  We have a big community room that you can have a gathering afterward…You can have it catered by this guy right here…”  She hands me a menu full of some of my favorite foods.  This gotta be some kind of sign.  I sat there with my head half shaved and said, “uh…ok…have her call me so we can all meet…”

January 25th Update:  I have a meeting set with Pastor Nancy Wong of Anaheim Free Methodist church next Thursday.

The Fukui meeting was quite somber.  I guess that’s the usual tone for these sort of meetings.  I kept making stupid jokes.  It wasn’t until the end of the meeting, I got the guy to crack a smile.  We talked more about a typical program and we looked at sample urns and the cremation casket.  I didn’t realize that the casket used for the viewing was burned along with the body.  Rosehills had a rental casket available.  Fukui focused his pitch on the level and detail of their service.  We all know Fukui so he didn’t have to pitch too hard.  Rosehills had already answered all of my bonehead questions. 

By this time, I was most interested in the cost.  All in for a day-before viewing, mortuary services, permits/certificates, urns, casket, and their premium service was nearly $7,000.  This doesn’t include the social gathering, church, the Pastor, and the plot/niche/maintenance.  If I assume $2,000 for the church and Pastor, and another $2,500 for the gathering, the non-plot cost is already over $11k.

The meeting ended after 3:00pm.  I had to fight downtown traffic all the way home.  All this information was just oozing from my head.  Somewhere between the 710 and 605 it all sunk in and I got depressed and really sad.  I’m sure pumping my N’Sync CD didn’t help things.

I’m glad I got it done but in the end it really was a shitty way to spend a day off.

From → Daily Life

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