Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Great Taste! Less Filling!

Okay, so here’s my thing……I recently went to Las Vegas to watch my beloved BYU Cougars spank Oregon and win the Las Vegas Bowl. If you caught the game on television, you may have seen me dancing on the field during the trophy ceremony. While in Vegas I decided to visit my dad’s grave. Whenever I visit my dad’s grave, I bring him a bottle of Budweiser. (Bottle, not a can but a 12 oz. bottle of Bud!) I have a theory. Since I live in Utah I don’t get to visit him often. I figure if I leave a bottle of beer on his grave I can accomplish two goals. First, somewhere my dad knows I am thinking of him. Second, homeless people will visit his grave looking for free alcohol. This way, my dad is visited more often!! In the past, I would ask a friend for a bottle of beer (since I don’t drink). However, this time I didn’t have time so I decided to pick one up in Vegas. You would think this would be easy!!!! However this wasn’t the case! The obstacles I encountered while trying to buy one bottle of beer reminded me of the obstacles I encountered while trying to bury my dad!

My parent’s divorced when I was 5. Since my dad drove a Semi-tractor trailer across country, I only saw him a handful of times throughout my life. My dad had three true loves in his life. (Unfortunately, my mother and siblings weren’t one of them!) He loved driving a truck, smoking, and drinking Budweiser. He usually did all three at the same time. While driving across country, he would drink the beer, pee in the empty bottle, and then throw it out the window.

In June of 2002, my Aunt called to let me know my dad had collapsed and was in ICU. He was dying of emphysema. Although I recently had a baby, I packed up my family and drove from Logan, Utah to Las Vegas, Nevada.

As I made the trek from Utah, my sisters and their families came from Arizona and California. Finally, we all arrived in Vegas. My sisters and I tried to visit with my dad while all of our children and spouses waited in the family waiting room. This proved difficult. As we were sitting with my dad, the doors to the ICU slammed shut as alarms went off. Doctors and nurses were running all over yelling and shouting. Turns out some idiot pulled the fire alarm! A look of horror crossed my sister’s faces. We ran to the waiting room to check our children. I was sooooo happy to know it was my sister’s kid that pulled the alarm, not one of mine. Besides, it was really the hospital’s fault. The hospital was politically correct. All of the alarms were at wheelchair level! This makes it the perfect height for handicapped individuals and 4 year olds!

My aunt decided to pull the life support system on my dad because “he is dying anyway”. My aunt had power of attorney so she made the decision. Once my dad’s breathing tube was removed and after the fire alarm fiasco, it was determined my dad would be moved to another floor while we waited for him to pass. We were sent to this deserted area where the kids couldn’t do much damage.

I have a few very distinct memories of this time. First, my cousin came to visit. She strolled into the room in the shortest shorts I have ever seen. She announced they were my dad’s favorite! I was startled by this since they were about 4 sizes two small. She told me “Uncle Pete” loved how they molded to her every curve! EEEEWWWWW!!!!

Second, the doctors came to remove the breathing tube from my dad. This would be the last moment we would have with my dad alert, since he would be on a morphine drip until he passed. We asked for a few moments with my dad before this happened. What could have been a beautiful moment with my dad turned into my aunt crawling up on the bed, shaking my dad as she begged him to have a priest give him last rites. Now, my father was either agnostic or atheist. (It depended on the day). He kept shaking his head no while my aunt sobbed for him to reconsider.

Third, my aunt brought a trucker that sometimes talked to my dad on the CB to the hospital. It turns out my aunt and this guy became attracted to one another and they “did” it in the hospital room. (They wanted to be there when my dad died and why waste money renting a room!!!!).

Fourth, my sister explained to her small children that grandpa was dying because he smoked tobacco. At one point, my nephew saw the catheter bag coming out of my dad. He thought it was a bag of tobacco and started violently pulling on it. We needed a janitor and a nurse to fix that one!

Fifth, my cousin (the ho in the Daisy Duke shorts) snuck a bottle of Budweiser into the room. She dipped q-tips into the bottle and then placed the q-tips into my dad’s comatose mouth. Ironically enough, he actually responded to this. How comforting to know that the taste of beer could reach my dad in a coma!!!!!

Sixth, since I was nursing my baby, I needed to drink a lot of fluid. I asked a nurse for a cup and she gave me a urinal to drink out of. I had many weird looks as I gently sipped my ginger ale out of the urinal. Funny thing is, I saved that urinal! I just can’t seem to part with it.

Finally, the moment came when my dad passed. That is when the real fun occurred. My aunt wanted to have my dad cremated. She then wanted to ship the ashes to New York, exhume his mothers coffin, and have his ashes sprinkled on her corpse. (Ever read the story of Oedipus???) The great state of Nevada requires the closest living relatives to make the cremation/burial decision, even when someone else has the power of attorney. After a family discussion, some of my siblings would not agree to the cremation sprinkling plan. My aunt was furious with us. Especially with me when I pointed out that my dad couldn’t be buried in my grandma’s coffin because he didn’t have last rites!

This led to a great legal battle! While we battled for the body, the funeral home called to let us know flesh was starting to separate off my dad’s bones. Have you ever seen that commercial where they put saran wrap on the bowl of Jell-O? The wrap seals the bowl tightly so the food can’t fall out. Well, this is what they did to my dad. They wrapped him like a mummy in saran wrap. This upset my cousins because they had heard stories of how my dad only had one testicle. They were hoping to check it out but now couldn’t due to the separation issue.

In the long run, we won the battle. We got the call on Father’s day. My family went to the funeral home to dress my dad for burial. While there, the funeral director had to explain to us that my dad’s mouth had been accidentally sealed before his dentures had been put in. They handed me the case of dentures and gave my children and I a few minutes alone with my dad. My children wanted to see what his dentures looked like. I don’t know what possessed me but I opened the case so they could see. The case was a little tight and as I tried to pry it open, slimy, smelly, water and teeth went flying and landed on my dad. I quickly collected the teeth and got them back in their case as the men came back into the room.

The next step was placing my dad into his casket. As the men began to pick up my dad, one of the guys dropped him with a thunk! “Holy #@#@”, he yelled. “This guy is leaking!!!!” The men started to panic as my husband burst out laughing. I had to explain to them my denture adventure. They were so glad to hear it wasn’t embalming fluid they were touching.

As my dad was laid into the casket, we placed a Budweiser into his hands. I have been bringing him Budweiser ever since. That’s why I was so disgusted last month when I couldn’t find the correct beer!!!! Please explain to me why you can get married by Elvis in Vegas, buy a 7 minute prostitute in Vegas, eat a $3.00 buffet in Vegas, but you can’t buy a single bottle (not can) of 12 oz. Budweiser in Vegas!!!!! Long story short, I had to put a whole six pack on my dad’s grave!!!!! Oh well, Merry Christmas, Daddy!!!


Thoroughly Mormon Millie said...


OK, I don't know which aspect of this story to attack first. Whether it's Cousin Daisy giving your dad his last fix of Budweiser, your goofball aunt and the ashes on the corpse, the trucker she slept with, or the fire alarm...

But I love that you're leaving your dad something he'd like, and keeping one less six pack of Bud out of the hands of minors. Unless they're homeless and roaming the cemetery.

I think Heavenly Father plans it so that the best storytellers have EVERYTHING happen to them. That's my theory about you.

Anonymous said...

I love that you bring your Dad a beer when you visit him. I laughed a lot at this. I hope that's OK.

Anonymous said...

I loved reading about your dad. Reading about his last moments was also a good read-- although not in the same way! I especially loved "My aunt was furious with us. Especially with me when I pointed out that my dad couldn’t be buried in my grandma’s coffin because he didn’t have last rites!" I can totally picture that. It reminds me of my dad's stories of talking back to the nuns in Catholic school in the 60's (and getting smacked with a ruler!)

But, um, I have a question.

Did you try a bar? AFAIK, you can usually just walk into a bar and ask for a bottle of Bud. They would probably even be happy not to open it for you. Unless you did, and no bars in Vegas stock bottles of Bud.

Anonymous said...

because of the glass. people smash the bottles on the strip and it makes a big mess. during big occasions (new year's, mardi gras), they sell beer in plastic bottles, but never in glass.

your story was sweet. reminds me of the very proper burial my (inactive) lds father-in-law had with military honors and members of the state government present for whatever the state honors are called. cousin steven, the hippie, ran up and threw a homemade cigarette and a beer on top of the casket as they were lowering it into the ground. the bishop wasn't sure what to do and just continued on. good times.

Sketchy said...

What the...insane... Millie must be right and the best story tellers get all the stories to tell.

I'm glad you stood your ground on the whole Oedipus Rex thing your Aunt had in mind. Icky on so many levels!

Anonymous said...

I still am in awe that your life has so many interesting stories! It makes me feel a little boring in comparison.

Like the others have said, the combination of your story telling and your interesting life make quite the combination. You should write a book! :)

Jessica♥Wessica said...

Wow, your family has me shaking my head while you have me laughing. I really love that you bring your dad a beer every time you visit. Even though I laughed throughout all of this, and felt bad laughing, I want to give you a huge pat on the back. You're a very talented writer.

nita said...

What an interesting variety of things to happen to you. That is neat you bring the beer to your father's grave; I like how you think that will help him get more visitor's. And amazing you survived and saw the humor of the events during his last hours.

Thoroughly Mormon Millie said...

OK, let's hear your next installment, missy.

Tanesia said...

Good post.

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