The very polite mournerPosted: December 17, 2011 | |
I drove back to my hometown today to put a wreath on my Dad’s grave. It made me feel about a million years old. OLD people put wreaths on their parents’ graves. 32-year olds still borrow their Dads’ cars and ring them crying on New Year’s Day because no-one loves them. Anyway.
I went to the cemetery – it was freezing fucking cold, drizzling and the light was fading. Perfect putting-on-wreath weather, if you’re of a Gothic bent. Before I drove up to Dad, I stopped at the flower stall by the gate to choose a wreath.
They had loads. I chose one made of silver baubles. It was really pretty and sparkly. Thought it might brighten the place up a bit. I handed it to the man and rummaged for my purse.
“Are you taking this up to a grave, love?”
“Only, it’s meant for a door…”
Stickler for the rules that I am, I put it back. Who knew there were wreath rules? And obviously, something that’s meant to hang outside on a door is totally unsuited to hanging outside on a grave. Whatever.
The man showed me the grave wreaths. Not what I was looking for at all. Evergreen, ivy and holly base – lovely – with summer/tropical flowers threaded through them – weird. I wanted something Christmassy. Or at least wintery. These were schizophrenic. But he was holding some nude ones in his hand, green wreaths that hadn’t mated with summer yet, and they were nice.
“Can I have one of those?”
“These love? I haven’t finished these…”
“That’s OK. I like them like that.”
He went back into his little hut, and put one of the bare wreaths on the counter.
“Would you like a bow on it? It doesn’t cost more..”
My Dad was a very thrifty man. He would have appreciated that.
“Red, if you have it.”
The man tied an ornate red bow and placed it in the middle of my wreath.
“Would you like some extra holly berries? Won’t cost you…”
“Oh yes, that would be lovely…”
“It’ll be £9.50 love – go and wait in your car, it’s freezing out. I’ll bring it across…”
What a lovely man! I retreated gratefully to my car and waited. And waited. And he bought the wreath across.
The berries were nice. But it had carnations threaded into it. Red ones – fair enough, I suppose – and pink ones and yellow ones too. What the fuck? What’s Christmassy about that? And I fucking hate carnations.
“I prettied it up for you, love. Won’t cost you extra…”
He was very pleased with himself, so I handed over my money, thanked him nicely, put it in the footwell of the passenger seat, and drove up to see Dad.
“Merry Christmas, Dad. Sleep well. And sorry about the wreath. It wasn’t what I wanted. But then, neither was this. See you in the New Year…”
And then I came home.