Ashes to Ashes

by admin on March 9, 2010

My husband passed away due to liver disease at 57 this past April.  He was a longtime alcoholic and his brother, “Dean”, had cut off all contact with him five or six years before.  He still kept contact with our daughter, “Faye”, and when my husband started deteriorating she called him frequently and kept him updated.  He repeatedly refused to come even though my husband was comatose and Dean lived in a neighboring state.

I feel it is important to mention that my husband and I adopted Faye at birth, but she is of Samoan descent and looks different than we do.  I say this because all of the relatives except Dean never really treated her well because of this, so this explains why she kept trying to include him.

When my husband died, Faye ended up calling everyone and taking me to the funeral home to get the initial arrangements done.  We arranged for a direct cremation with a veteran’s funeral to follow once we had found the DD-214 and had straightened out the financial bind my husband’s death had put us in.  Of course,  Dean showed up at our door before we even got the ashes back.  My husband did not have many “heirlooms”, but Faye and I were kind (or stupid) enough to allow him to have two of them, including the only picture of Faye’s paternal grandmother that we had.  We were not in the right frame of mind at the time and I think he knew it.  He also walked off with several other photographs and tools from our garage.

Fast forward two months later.  The DD-214 was found and the funeral date set for June 20.  Faye called Dean as soon as the funeral arrangements had been made (a month in advance) to let him know the date, time, etc.  The only thing that came up was that he wanted a burial site for the ashes and we had arranged for a niche.  We just shook it off.

Neither of us heard anything from him for two and a half weeks.  Finally, Faye broke down and called him.  He told her they would be getting there on the nineteenth.  He also said that he was going to need my husband’s Army uniforms and photograph albums from his time in Vietnam.  He didn’t ask for them, mind you.  He just said he was going to need them, and Faye was more than a little upset at this point, especially because he had gone through them the time before and she had made it clear that she had wanted those items for herself.

We didn’t hear from Dean (or his wife “Donna”) again until the eighteenth, when they announced that they were in town (a day earlier than they had initially told us) and that they wanted to go to the florist because there had been a problem with the florist there.  Problem was, this phone call was at ten o’clock at night, far too late to do anything about it.

After lunch, we all got into their car and they ordered Faye to give them directions to the flower shop.  It was less than 24 hours before the funeral, which was at eleven o’clock the next morning.  Faye obliged and picked the flowers we had arranged up too.  Since she had given the florist a month’s notice, he did a wonderful job and the flowers (two large bouquets and one very small one) had a patriotic theme to match the veteran’s funeral in the national cemetery.  Dean became very upset upon seeing the flowers and demanded to know why Faye had bought so many.  Faye, having had enough, replied, “Well, he was my dad.”  It turned out that Dean had wanted a large wreath on an easel but had decided that Faye had ordered too many flowers anyway.  “It won’t be this way next time,” he informed us.  Remember, he had never called us and let us know about what he wanted to do, and Faye tried to compromise and offered to only leave one bouquet at the niche to leave room for the wreath.  He wouldn’t listen or speak to us.

The next day was the funeral.    Unfortunately we were both having car trouble so Dean had to drive.  We got the flowers into his car and he didn’t even say a word to us on the way to the cemetery (an hour’s drive).  When we got there, the staff greeted us and he immediately began to monopolize the conversations with them until I had to speak up and identify myself as the widow.  This upset Dean even more.  We drove to the site and began to unload the flowers, ashes, and flag from the car.  As Faye silenced her cell phone, Dean wordlessly thrust the largest bouquet at her, nearly making her drop both it and the phone.  He didn’t even look at her but instead glared at me.  Luckily a gentleman from the honor guard saw how he was acting and intervened.

At the ceremony shelter, Faye and I sat in front, but Dean and Donna sat in the very back.  When the cemetery coordinator invited them sit in the front, they refused in a very harsh tone.  So “Taps” was played, the flag folded, and then we went to the niche to put the ashes in.  It was a lovely niche that overlooked a lake nearby.  When I commented about this, Dean snapped, “At least he got to be close to water.”

We didn’t even stay there for fifteen minutes.  After we arranged for the inscription, Dean all but ushered us out of the cemetery and didn’t say a word to us on the way back.  When they were leaving, he didn’t even acknowledge Faye, who had been his ally all along.  She was the one who wanted to include him long after I had written him off.  They just walked past her like she didn’t exist.

After she watched them drive away, Faye turned to me and said, “Now I know why they say the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.”

We haven’t heard from them since and we are both totally fine with that.  0717-08

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Jayne March 9, 2010 at 6:37 am

To OP, first – my sympathies for your loss. I have had family members who have passed away due to the effects of alcoholism, and heaped on top of the grief (both pre and post death), you have to deal with those people who add blame to the game. Sharing an experience like this must be hard.

It looks like you two raised a wonderful daughter. And as far as Dean goes, shame on him. He is rude in every sense of the word. People like him are best left ignored.

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Fox March 9, 2010 at 1:16 pm

Is there any way you could get copies of the photographs he took, or is it not worth it to have to get in touch with him again?

I feel for you and your daughter; as though a death isn’t hard enough already. Dean seems like a very selfish person, and I’m sorry your daughter wound up being hurt by him.

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MamaToreen March 9, 2010 at 1:34 pm

He sounds like the type who lives to be the center of attention. You have my deepest sympathies

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Kitty March 9, 2010 at 2:14 pm

I’m so sorry you’ve been put through all this. What a nightmare it must have been!

I know grief does strange things to people, but really, Dean’s behaviour is really too far.

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Alexis March 9, 2010 at 4:50 pm

Yikes! If the REST os the family ‘never treated her all that well’ and this is the POLITE family member, you really are better off without any of them.

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Taha March 9, 2010 at 11:46 pm

I’m not trying to excuse his behavior (which was deplorable) but sometimes people act strangely when they are dealing with grief. Sometimes a person’s death effects you in strange ways, like making you really miss the good times even if you were estranged. Perhaps he wad embarrassed to admit this and that’s why he was such a control freak.

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Louise March 10, 2010 at 6:17 pm

“It turned out that Dean had wanted a large wreath on an easel but had decided that Faye had ordered too many flowers anyway. “It won’t be this way next time,” he informed us.”

What does that mean, “It won’t be this way next time”? There won’t be as many flowers at the next family funeral?

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PrincessSimmi March 10, 2010 at 8:06 pm

My sympathies for your loss.

I think it so wrong that people would treat an adopted child differently from any other child. A life is a life, and all life should be celebrated. You did a wonderful thing by choosing to adopt and give Faye a chance to know you and love you, and you her.

To me it sounds as though you did your best to put your husband to rest in a beautiful location. Dean has managed to make a difficult time even harder with his behaviour and there is no excuse for this. I’m sorry Faye bore the brunt of his bad behaviour. It’s better that you don’t have people like this in your lives.

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Shiksagoddess March 20, 2010 at 10:43 pm

I cannot even begin to comment on Dean’s behavior.

I would like to express my sincere condolences on your loss. May your husband’s soul shine brightly to light his way to heaven. May you and Faye find peace and healing.

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