The Scene: Mom, eldest sister (ES), our sister, M, and I are sitting around the kitchen table at Mom's eating lunch. #1 and #2 are playing happily and occasionally coming over for bites of food. ES has been on vacation for almost a month.
ES: I want to be cremated.
(Mom and M kind of stare off into space and I look across the table at ES and wonder why she's telling us since, presumably, her children will be the ones dealing with this issue when the time comes.)
ES: My children already know this, but I'm just telling you all, too. I want as many people to know as possible. And I want it done for as little money as possible.
Me: You can pre-pay for your services. Lock in the price.
Mom: This is morbid.
M: We are eating lunch here.
ES: Really? Tell me more, H.
Me: J's grandparents did it. Way back in the early '80s or sometime around then. They made all of the arrangements and everything so they didn't have to worry about it later in life, and so that J's father and his sisters wouldn't have to stress about their parents' wishes. When his grandmother died a few years ago, everything was all taken care of. Same thing a couple years after that when his grandfather died. It made things especially easy because there was a lot of in-fighting between J's father and some of his siblings.
ES: Oooooh. I think I'm going to have to look into that. God, I wish I was on vacation forever!
M & Mom: (simultaneously) You'll still need a coffin of some kind.
Me: Just a plain pine box.
ES: I don't want anything! Can't they just burn me?
M, Mom & Me: No.
Me: But this is why you should look into making arrangements now. So everything is done the way you want.
ES: (getting up and walking away from the table, now standing behind Mom) I want the simplest of everything and the kids can plan the service. I want to make it into a kind of game. (throws hands up in the air) How can I cremate my mother the cheapest?
ES: I meant me! I want my kids to say that! I'm not saying that I want to find a cheap way to bury you!
Mom: Who wants dessert?