There comes a day of ending things. Her newspaper subscription. Her telephone service. Her television and computer cable provider.
You can almost hear a click when each customer service person cancels Phyllis's account. Each time I wonder, Shouldn't you be calling her Mrs. Greene?
Some endings require a certificate of death.
Here's my favorite thing about it.
Box 31 says,"If Female, Pregnancy Status."
My 91-year-old Mom's pregnancy status was marked "Not pregnant within past year."
Most people in charge of ending things are very nice. After "Sorry for your loss," they incongruously add, "Have a nice day."
Some are more efficient than nice. Some won't cross that bureaucratic line into an empathetic space.
Did you say your mother was dead? asked a person in charge of scheduling bulk trash removal.
Yes, she died, I said. We had been cleaning out her house and had a stack of boxes the size of Snuffleupagus at the bottom of her driveway. Mom had a doctor's note that allowed the sanitation workers to empty the can down there, because––obviously––she couldn't push it up to the top.
I suppose I should have been more cagey with this call. I suppose I should have just asked for the pick-up, rather than explain what the pick-up was for.
Because, as soon as I, in my grieving honesty, told my story, the click terminating Phyllis was loud and clear.
If she's dead, the bulk trash person said, then her note is cancelled. You're going to have to haul that trash to the street yourself.
Designated Daughter kicked to the curb, and have a nice day.
D.G. Fulford is the author of , written with her mother Phyllis Greene. She is also the co-founder of . You can find her at .
Photo credit: Marcia Smilack