"Suits: A Narrative of About Twenty-Seven Hours, More or Less"

Linear Narrative

My grandmother has commandeered the funeral preparations, and with an eye towards etiquette she has issued the proclamation that we will have a private wake the night before and a closed-casket funeral before we bury the body.

My grandmother has also given the mortician one of her husband’s suits to put on the body to prepare it for the family viewing. I realize what my grandmother intends and am appalled. My father does not wear suits. I will honor this at least.

I call my father’s girlfriend of nine years, asking her to let me put my father in the ground with something soft against his skin. When I knock on her wooden front door, she has laid out his folded jeans, a collared shirt, a t-shirt to go underneath, his boots, and one of his newer ball caps that he hadn’t even had to wash yet.

I mean to thank my father’s girlfriend -  for everything that she has done and who she has been for my father. Instead, I mumble goodbye, awkwardly shoving the boots under one arm and clasping the rest of the pile to my chest to make my way out the front door.

When I arrive at the funeral home the next morning, I have brought a picture of my father. In the picture he has a huge spoonful of ice-cream, and is making a face like even he can’t believe what he is doing as he shoves it all in his mouth. He is camping with his girlfriend and her children and looks happy and sunburnt in the trees.

I take the picture and the clothes and boots inside, asking the receptionist if I might give them to the mortician myself. She calls him to the front. He is polite and quietly thanks me for the clothes. He sees the boots shoved under my arm. He tells me, gently, that my father will not be needing those. He asks if I have brought the picture, so that he might get a better idea of what my father looked like in life.

I pull out the picture, and point to my father, the only man in the photo, and explain that this is the man that I have known. I look up, quickly, to see the mortician’s face. He nods his head, placing a hand on my shoulder. I repeat the process, pointing harder now, bringing the picture closer to his nose. This is my daddy. I look up again.

The kind man wrinkles his brow as I point at my dad, in my picture, in this funeral home meant for strangers. The kind man is not quite sure of my point. Finally, I ask, mumbling, quickly, if that is the same man they have in the back - the same man who is dead back there. He sighs. He nods. He removes his hand from my shoulder and steps further back into the hallway, where it is darker and I can no longer see his face.

I walk outside into the steamy heat of Virginia summer, and hold on to the boots, and cry in the parking lot with my father’s shoes in my arms. My brother-in-law sits in his truck, waiting. He has already lost both of his parents. He knows that this - this living - is hard to do sometimes.


Works Cited (Within Multimedia Piece):

United States. Centers for Disease Control. Fast Stats A to Z. July 31, 2008. <http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/FASTATS/lcod.htm>.

“Suit.” The Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. July 30, 2008. www.oed.com.

Woodward, Josh. “Saturday.” The Simple Life. Jamendo.com. 2008.