by Fielding Goodfellow
One of my son’s has been preparing to join the Armed Forces, and I’m all for it, I mean I think he should make his own life decisions. My wife is not taking it well. She’s not sure he’s old enough to make this kind of a decision on his own, despite being thirty-five years old. As he moves ass backwards through the transition from civilian life, he has been sorting through his belongings in order to determine what to keep and take with, and what he will leave behind. The Father’s Day foofaraw had just got underway when the proverbial shit began to hit the fan.
“I’ll take the tv.” I said.
“I don’t know.”, he told me. “I may take it.”
“What the hell are going to do with 60″ tv in the army?” I asked.
“I don’t know. We’ll see.” he said. “But I will need you to take the dogs.”
“Are you out of your fucking mind?” I asked him.
“What’s the big deal?” he asked. The big deal was, and still is the fact that the dog’s are dead. He had them cremated and their ashes are in urns that sit on a shelf in his book case. There’s a blue urn for John, the male Bichon-Poo, and a pink one for Yoko, the female Powderpap. Despite the fact that I adored both of these dogs, I have no interest at all in bringing their remains into my home. My wife however thought that it was the least we could do to help her boy make the move into army life. It wasn’t. The least we could do, as I pointed out, was obviously to not take the urns.
The dogs had been with us for ten or eleven years when my son took them. He had just moved into a place of his own and wanted to have them there, I suppose for company. We agreed. He had them for another four or five years, and as they got older, they both became ill. I was there when they were both put down. as my son wasn’t emotionally able to deal with the loss on his own. I wasn’t certain that I was either, but I was reminded on both occasions that I am the father and this sort of thing falls into the realm of my duties, right up there with confronting the armed lunatics who attempt to break into the house. It was a difficult time for all of us, but my son handled it better than I had expected. He had made arrangements with the vet to have them cremated and placed in color coded urns that he could keep and cherish forever. And now, he wanted to pass the joy of having the dead animals’ ashes displayed as an eternal shrine in my home.
“Its not happening.” I told him and his mother.
“Its okay.” she said. “I’ll keep them in the back of my closet. You won’t even know that they’re here.”
“Ill know.” I said.
“Well” my son asked, “What do you suggest we do?”
“What should have been done in the first place..” I said. “The ashes should have been scattered in a park. They always liked the park.”
“I don’t know.” my son said.
“Well then,” I said, “You’ll have to take them with.”
“What the hell do I tell the army?” he asked.
“You can always tell them they’re your parents.” I said. He didn’t seem to think that was funny. Neither did my wife. I however was pretty sure it was fucking hilarious.
“We’ll figure something out.” my wife said.
“What if those were your ashes?” he asked me.
“They’d be scattered in a river by now.” my wife answered on my behalf.
“Exactly.” I said. “If you want I can scatter the dogs in the river.”
“I don’t want their ashes scattered.” he said.
“Well, if you leave them here” I advised, “it will no longer be your decision to make.”
“Can I speak to alone?” my wife asked me. And there was twenty minutes in our bedroom, listening to her try to change my mind. I told her over and over that the ashes would not be staying in our home. Period. She cried and she begged, but I was steadfast, like a rock. And then she did it. “Please do it for me?” she asked. Damn, she was good. She knew exactly what to say. She knew that I would never give in to the boy, and she also knew that I could never refuse one of her ‘do it for me’ requests. I didn’t even try.
“You’re such a bitch.” I said.
“Ya” she said. “But I so do like it when you talk dirty to me.”
My son was overjoyed that the dogs would remain sealed in their urns, prominently displayed in the back of my wife’s closet. There was really nothing else to say, and I had grown weary of these festive, family gatherings that always seemed to cost me something.
“Thank you for letting the dogs stay here.” my wife said as we lay in bed that night.
“I didn’t really have any choice, did I?” I asked.
“None at all.” she said. “But if you can think of something you want to do, I’m naked and I’m free for the next twenty to thirty minutes.” Damn she was good. She knew exactly what to say.