He once told me I'd probably kill myself before I was 40. When I realized "my god" as he referred to him had indeed forsaken me. We always had this discussion in a bar, mostly as he nursed the last beer he rushed to order as the bartender yelled last call. As we discussed his bleak prediction of my doomed future, his hands ran up and down my thighs under my short sun dress, never quite going high enough for my taste.
"You're wrong." I laughed. "You see, God made me disabled so I can change the world and become filthy rich in the process."As young and cynical as Steven was, and as young and as optimistic as I was, we were the perfect soul mates on some kind of cosmic plain that no one could even come close to understanding.
I stare in the mirror 20 years later wondering what Steven would say. Would he try to stop me or ask me to send him a postcard from the afterlife? After all, he always, and I mean always had to be right. I often wondered what he would say at my funeral.
Yes I'm such a control freak that at the rip old age of 38 I've mentally planned out my funeral, although I haven't told my husband James yet, he might think that was just too damn creepy. Unlike Steven who would expect no less from me.
Lets see, close casket because I don't want my dead body in over done make up and fufu hair to be the last memory that my son has of me. My mom said it's a sign of respect to kiss the forehead of someone who has passed on. I was 21 when my grandmother died and was pressured into performing this bizarre ritual. It was my first funeral of a closed family member that I ever attended.
Today when I think of my grandma, I do have many found memories. The way her perfume smelled. Her shinny black rectangular handbag that always had a dollar for me. The way she loved coffee. How pissed I made her when I ran away on my trike. All the kids were going on a bike ride but she didn't let me because she was so overprotected of me so I just left, and caught up with my cousins. I fibbed when I said mom just got home and she sent me to catch up. We all got chewed out as we approached the house and my grandma was waiting with a wooden spoon. I felt kinda bad because my cousins got the worse of it. They, unlike my grandmother, knew I was the mastermind of mischief who never got caught because to most people I look helpless and pathetic. The cousins knew better but luckily for me accepted this cruel fate because when we weren't in hot waters, the adventures was definitely worth it.
My grandma always had my favorite cookies. Always. I can't remember a visit to her house when my cookies weren't waiting on the kitchen table. Not when she was in good health. Not on our last visit when her health was failing and she called my father to tell him it was time for her to go into a nursing home. The cookies were always there.
Occasionally I see the shinney gold box in the snack isle as we buy our grocery for the week. I can never bring myself buy them. I fear I'll taste the cookie, start crying, and won't be able to stop. With all my memories of her, its sad that every single time I think of her, the first home movie running in my head, if only for a split second, is my kissing her cold forehead in her coffin. What the hell is that about?
So closed coffin definitely, although lately I've been obsessed about cremation. Only because my mom recently told me she just paid for her funeral so we wouldn't have to. The cost was astronomical. We're talking the price on a compact car. My mom nags a lot but I can't phathom life without her. Thank god the woman has good genes. Her mother recently celebrated triple digits so I'm thinking I have a good 30 years more of criticism of how I run my household. What she doesn't understand is if I ran it as she wished, which I in fact liked, Jamie would divorced me and Nicholas would run away. Then she would nag that I shamed the family by divorcing. Shame is a huge guilt factor in the Vietnamese community.
But I digress, lets talk about something exciting, like my ideal funeral. I would want everyone to wear re d Hawian shirts, Red for my favorite color. Hawaiian shirts because the love of my life would be so pissed off if my final requests was to make him wear a monkey suit. I can hear him bitching like an hour before my funeral about the missing button on the only white dress shirt he owned. Yes James was mighty proud of the fact that he only owned one. Now that I think of it, maybe I will make all the guys wear suits, as my final poke.
I wonder who would speak at my funeral? I assume there would be a few family members, like my twin sister Lisa. She would of course say how much she loves me. That is an unquestionable fact. She would try to inferred that we were close. Sadly we aren't. We don't hang out on Saturday nights. We don't spend hours shopping and gossiping on the phone. I didn't even think about telling her when I lost my virginity at the ancient age of 22. For being twins raised in a loving upper middle class family, our social and activities circle barely overlapped except for family dinners and vacations.
Lisa had it all. I was taught that each child had their own special gifts and talents. I'm still waiting for my gift. Maybe god shipped it in the mail. James once told me when he was in the navy he wrote a letter to his mom and she got it two years later. So I still have hope that god's gift will be delivered by ups any day now. Lisa was the daughter young couple would "design" if they could. She was beautiful, dad's Caucasian, mom's Vietnamese, you almost had to be a freak not to come out a pageant queen. Just call me Miss Freak 1970. If there wasn't a legal birth certificate and bad home movies, I'd think I was adopted. Although I do play with the conspiracy theory that I was switch at birth and somewhere out there is a ugly couple who thinks they got really lucky with their beautiful daughter.
Lisa world consisted of beauty pageants and cheerleading and the dreadful chore of choosing the proper suitor as they lined up around the block. My only ace-in-the-hole was that I applied myself. That was my folk's way referring to lisa's lack of motivation towards school work. Sure she was voted most popular in our senior class and dated the quarter back but I was never grounded and I was on the honor roll. So hypothetically if I ever got a date, at least I knew I wasn't grounded that weekend. it's amazing what we tell ourselves to get through the night. To add insult to injury, something clicked inside of her the 2nd year of community college. Her C's minuses turned into A's, and my dad whole face lite up when Lisa shocked everyone that she had gotten into a prominent medical school. At that moment I wondered if I would ever do anything to make my dad that pleased. Don't get me wrong, my folks are my biggest supporter but there is a difference between beaming with pride that one daughter got in medical school and beaming with pride when their other daughter took her first steps at 6 years old.
I have spent most of my life trying not to be jealous of Lisa. Because that's how I was raised, that how was taught. And on rare occasions I wondered if she was ever jealous of me. My parents gave me more attention. My little achievements were celebrated as if I walked on water, pun intended. They insisted I go to a small private college where the faculty student ratio was lower. Although at that point, Harvard wasn't exactly rolling out the red carpet for Lisa. And by default, I was their favorite. I guess as we get older it shouldn't matter anymore. We are both married. Both have children. We both get guilt trips when we can't make it to Sunday Family Dinners. Yet occasionally I think if I was just born first, I'd be a prominent Houston Doctor with two offices and she would have the crappy tech support job.
You know that stupid saying that a few seconds can change your whole life? In my case, this was a bitter truth. if I just was born 30 seconds early I might have gotten enough oxygen to my brain and never had been born with cerebral palsy. Sometimes I wonder why my folks didn't sue the doctors but of course they wouldn't. they were not raised that way nor was I. And I think they felt if they did, it would take away from how much they adored me just the way I am. And for 29 days of every month, I truly appreciate that. But on the 30th day, when I'm picking what bill to pay first, I'd think a bigass settlement wouldn't feel like charity right about now.
After Lisa finished speaking about her angelic sister, she would return to sit by my devastated folks. I'm ashamed to say that at the lowest point in my life the only reason I would never kill myself was that I don't think they would recover. Now this was different, I am planning my funeral incase of a freak accident, like getting hit by a meteorite while exiting the mall. Although now that I think of it, if, god forbide, my parents had to lose a child. I hope its me. My folks deserve to be pampered in their old age. My mom joked that they know we will put them in a nursing home, just make it close enough to visit. But what they don't understand is I know how many doctors recommended that they institutionalized me, they never considered if for a second. They deserve the same love and compassion.
I assume after my sister spoke, one of my cousins from Louisiana would feel obligated to tell a story. I always thought I had a split personality. The one for family and the one for my world. My family has never shown an ounce of regret towards me disability but I find myself wanting to overcompensate around them, extra sweet, non demanding. Maybe I thought this would make it easier to love me. On the flip side, with my friends I'm loud, funny, and like a good debate.
I remember my mom had a huge 50th birthday party. I of course had no date. So I begged Steven to go and promised to take him to the midnight showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. He laughed so hard on the way back to the car he had to dry his eyes. Steven said I turned into a pod person the second I walked into the house. I nodded and smiled at all my aunts and uncle as they figuratively patted my head and remarked what a handosome young man I brought home. Then thanked him for coming as if he had single handedly fed the hungry children of the world. I politely and in my quietly family voice told him to go screw himself. Two hours lately we were in our goth outfit throwing toast at a transvestite on the movie screen.
My cousins from Louisiana had a better understanding of who I really was, although I feel like I really didn't come into myself until college, a few years after summer on the farm had stopped. That was one thing I wish we never grew out of. I bet The cousins would make Madison speak. We used to say she would do anything for a dare.