The Yellow Folder

Thursday, June 1, 2006.  Just after 5:00 AM, I was startled awake.  The phone was ringing.  I knew.  I did want to know.  I didn’t want to hear it.  The man on the line asked to speak to my grandmother.  I told him he had the wrong phone number and I could give him the right one.  He asked if I knew Christi Morris.  I told him I did.  He asked how I knew her.  I told him she was my mom.  The next words he said shattered my heart “I’m afraid I don’t have good news.  You are welcome to ask any questions you want.  She expired about 30 minutes ago.” I thanked him and hung up the phone.  Mitchell was awake in the bed next to me.  I said “She’s gone.” I called my grandma, my mom’s best friend, and our pastor.  Then I called the funeral home.  I went to the end table by her bed to find the folder I seen her writing and weeks earlier.  The left pocket contained letters she had written.  Mine said she was so proud of me and loved me so much.  The right pocket contained a list of her final wishes.  She did not want to be cremated.  She wanted the cheapest funeral possible.  She even wrote down the clothing she wanted to be buried in.

I was due to report to work at 1600 hours that day.  I called my job and told the dispatcher that my mother had just passed away but I would still be at work on time.  I needed the money desperately and I didn’t think we would make any arrangements for mom that day.  My phone rang almost immediately.  My supervisor told me not to come in. I tried to tell him I needed the money.  He told me if I showed up I would be sent home.  He also told me that my days off work would be paid.

I called my brother and told him mom had passed away.  Mitchell and I got in the car by 6:00 AM.  We drove 112 miles each way to get to my brother so he wasn’t alone.  The phone rang off the hook that day.  Friends and family were checking on us.  Bill collectors called, I told them she was dead and that no one was in charge of her finances.  I called every phone number in my mom’s phone book to let everyone know she had passed away.  Our house was flooded with people, mostly family.

I caught a family member at my mother’s bedside gathering her medication.  I told the individual to put the medication down and to get out of her room.  I called the hospice nurse and told her people were there trying to take mom’s morphine and fentanyl.  I asked her to come dispose of it immediately.  She did.

The next day, my family and I took the clothing she wanted to be buried in to the funeral home.  We began making all of her arrangements.  She required a casket for big and tall people, she was a heavier lady.  The funeral home gave us the casket for the same price as their cheapest casket.  We chose to do a chapel service, and no graveside service.  That was the cheaper route.  The funeral home worked with us to get her obituary written.  Mom wanted the song “Best I ever had” by Gary Alan played at her funeral.  My Aunt Deedee chose “Talking to my angel” by Melissa Etheridge to be played at her service.  We all agreed it was perfect.

June 5, we arrived at the funeral home chapel.  I cried when I saw a Davis police car in the parking lot.  The chapel was packed with people who loved her.  Every pew was full; every wall was lined with people.  Her service was beautiful.  Her casket was full of Dr. Pepper, cigarettes, pictures and letters.  My supervisor, a Davis officer escorted my mother’s procession to the cemetery.  We arrived at the cemetery; the pallbearers lowered my mom’s sky blue casket into her grave.  We stood in a circle praying.  Someone put a handful of dirt in my hand while our eyes were closed.  I thought, “There’s no way I am throwing dirt on my mom”.  I dropped the dirt on the ground where I stood.

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