Dear Lady at the Crematorium

Dear Lady at the Crematorium,

Thank you very much for the tour of your facility. I was trying to minimize my father’s “final expenses,” so I appreciated your unpretentious office behind the Harley Davidson dealership. Last year when my mother died, I blew my budget on a deluxe funeral home complete with plush burgundy carpeting, somber wood paneling and jar of complimentary “Life Saver” candies on the oak conference table. Your SteelCase desk, chipped linoleum floor and ragged shag (both rug and haircut) hit just the right note for me. I admire your pride in your family-run business, but I was also comforted by the framed license on the wall. Frankly I did not need to know that you attributed two miscarriages to the stress of your job. I’m glad that your time off resulted in successful pregnancies and that now you’re back at work guiding families through cremation.

You startled me when you moved that little curtain back so that I could see what must have been an oven, asked if I wanted to watch the cremation and then whether my father would arrive in a coffin or a cardboard box. I appreciated those questions because they provided a welcome distraction from my grief. I could only wonder who would want to watch a body slip into the fiery hole of a gaping oven, and who would buy a fancy coffin and then promptly burn it up. Thank you for not being judgmental when I said that a cardboard box would be just fine.

When I came to pick up my father’s ashes, you introduced me to the word “cremains,” which I consider the best euphemism I have ever heard. Last week, I used it many times with great flourish, even describing a steak that burnt up on the grill. You also handed me an American flag, and when I looked surprised you stood up, put your hand on your heart, right on top of the Hello Kitty! emblem on your sweatshirt, and said, “Your father was a war veteran and this flag is a gift from the President of the United States and a grateful nation.” I’m sorry if I burst into tears right there in your windowless room with the flickering fluorescent lights, but that was the sweetest thing I’d heard since my father died. I would like to give you proper thanks, but cannot offer you the compliment of repeat business at the present moment. However, I have praised your services to my peers who are also being ousted from the sandwich generation. If you’ve experienced an uptick in your business, you might have me to thank.

Best Wishes for Continued Success


Liza Blue


  1. Doris on October 8, 2015 at 2:40 pm

    haha bobbie! liza! THIS WAS a GREAT piece AND i LISTENED TO your podcast and loved it! love you!! back to the grind…

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