She would wait at home for them to bring her Little Joe. Any other time she would have made the ride and made sure to stop at the shops along the way, but today she would stay at home. Who else would know when to let Eamon know that everything was ready? And she still had to get the suit. Let them drive to get Little Joe. She would wait a little longer.
Debbie had said that she would do the cookin’. That’ll work. Ms. Ann had did such a nice job when Flora’s husband had passed, but she heard it was high. Debbie was family and wouldn’t charge too much. And her chicken do be tastin’ good. Now if she could just reach that nice woman again from the insurance. The one who was real patient with her.
After calling the insurance she would go see Eamon. He might try to take advantage of her, but she wouldn’t get too emotional. Not like silly running around.
“Ma. That was my brother! You can’t tell me how to be feelin’!”
What a nut.
They was fussing a lot, but they wouldn’t stay mad for long. And everyone else was being real nice to her. Elma drove her down to the Piggly Wiggly and Carole’s friend had taken her trash to the dump. He didn’t even ask nothing for it. She would make sure to watch the baby.
She’d have to pay something for the suit though. Belk’s was running a sale, but they didn’t have nothing in his size. Not since he had lost all that weight. She wondered where Little Joe got all his suits that had fit him so nice.
Talk to New York and the insurance. Then Eamon tomorrow. And get the suit. Debbie would handle the cookin’.
“Are you sitting down?”
He never called. Ok, sometimes her cell was off because the bill was too high, but the house phone usually worked. She couldn’t remember the last time she heard his voice. He sounded tired.
“What’s wrong? Are you ok?”
“You should sit down first.”
“Ok? Just give me a second. Are you ok?”
“Are you sitting? I don’t know how to say this. My father died.”
She couldn’t speak. One by one they kept leaving her, and all she could do was rock back and forth holding on to the phone with his voice.
“They think it was a diabetic coma, but they’re not sure yet. Harold found him.”
The knot in her stomach that started the moment she picked up, that twisted and scraped when she sensed something was wrong, snapped and she had nothing left to grasp. All she could think about was the letter she had written him. And how happy he was when he called her. How much he joked and sounded like himself again.
Through the heaves and the sobs she managed to get a few words out:
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Are? You? O? K?”
“Do, do, do they know when the fu, fu, funeral will be yet?”
“Not yet. I’m talking to grandma tomorrow and will let you know.”
“Can you? Can you? Come? Back?”
“I don’t know. It’s very busy.”
“I wish I could se, see you. He loved you ve, very much, you know.”
“I guess. I have to go now. I’ll call you tomorrow.”
“Ok. Please be safe. I love you!”
“Love you, too.”
And then he was gone. Both of him.
“Oh, Lavern, don’t be such a nut.”
“Jeez. It’s like you don’t even want it to be nice.”
“And why am I gonna throw all that money in the ground? Are you paying for it?”
“But come on, now. It’s got to be a bit nicer than this. Why don’t you just put him in a pine box and be done with it?”
“Do they have one!”
“Naw, ma! You can’t do my brother like that.”
“Listen! Your brother don’t care and neither should no one else. And Lil’ Joe already said he wants the cremation.”
“Oh, no! Joey, really?”
“It’s the cheapest option.”
“See! Lil’ Joe agrees with me, silly.”
“Na, na. My brother is not being burned and he’s not being buried in no pine box!”
“What about this one then?”
“Ma! The man done said that rain could get into that one. Why you always got to be so cheap?”
“Well, your brother always did like to drink. I don’t think a little bit of water is gonna hurt him.”
The ride was harder on her than she remembered. But she had had to work the day before and leave straight from work to make the ten hour drive by herself. But he would be there. He finally said so. And so she wouldn’t mind the drive, even if she had to pull over to take a few rests.
“Listen, Myeshia. Lil’ Joe said he needs you to drive him over to the Macdonald’s. What do you need, Lil’ Joe?”
“Yeah, he said he needs that why fai? Can you come and get us? He said he has to do something on the computer.”
“She said she’ll come get us, Lil’ Joe. And then we can have our breakfasts there. Or do you want me to scramble you an egg?”
“No, that’s ok. I can wait.”
She would have already made his breakfast, but neither of them could eat. He hadn’t even asked for his okras and tomaetas yet.
“Is it for work?”
“Yeah. Just have to check something.”
“Myeshia won’t take too long to get here. They still paying you good? The flight wasn’t too expensive, was it?”
“Yeah. It was fine.”
“But how much did it set you back?”
“It’s ok, grandma. I’ve got it.”
She had finally spoke with the insurance. Good thing she took it out back when Little Joe was a baby. She could see then that Junior wasn’t going to leave him anything. Whatever anyone might say at least they had enough to bury him right.
She just wished she could have seen him in that suit. But Eamon had said the body was too far gone. After all that maybe they should have done the cremation like Little Joe had said and saved the money. If she asked Mo to get the supplies though she might still be able to get her roof fixed.
“Brothers and sisters, do you have a plan? Cuz the Good Lord says we know neither the day nor the hour, but we all come home in the end.”
“Troubled though this world may be, be not afraid of what is to come in the hereafter.”
“Cuz when St. Peter opens those gates, I don’t want to be sneaking in. I want to be marching in!”
“And for those of you sitting here fighting and quarreling, think about your plan for making things right, instead of more wrong.”
“Think about making peace with your Maker and with each other.”
“And before you leave here today think about talking to the good brothers and sisters here at Eamons Funeral Home to make your plan for those you leave behind.”