Timely Greetings from my friends at Neptune

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If we were on Skype today, you’d have to avert your eyes to avoid the watery ones coming from my side of the screen. Then the hacking, dry cough would start after a few attempts at conversation, followed by gorge-engaging phlegm maintenance, and a tissue from the third possibly fourth box I’ve gone through since Happy New Year!

I have what the advice nurse sloughed off as “just a cold.” She repeated the nursing mantra—fluids, rest, try Mucinex (I am thank you), and if it gets worse call or come in. Be sure you slip on a mask at the entry—“no one wants your germs.” TLC—no charge.

I missed the two days of sun we had in the Northwest last week and played the shut-in to the hilt until yesterday when I carried the Christmas greens to the recycle pile and got the mail.

Not much there except what looked like maybe a late Christmas card. Settled on the couch with my—who’s counting—cup of ginger tea, I opened the card only to find that the Neptune Society wanted me to join them. The invitation to pay up now graphic looks like a possibly dead-come-back-to-life grandpa, holding hands in a jubilant circle with what looks like Sarah Palin (my eyes are still watery, but maybe her speaking gigs have fallen off) and some kids dancing on the beach. Wow—that could be me! Not Sarah, but me, a dead old lady to replace gramps for that last romp on the warm sand at Malibu.

I read on and see that I can enter a contest too—Raymond Perez was last month’s winner. Lucky Raymond! Or should I say Raymond’s next of kin?

There’s a famous quote my mother loved from Eleanor of Franklin R, hated by Republicans, about “yesterday . . . today is a gift . . . call it the present.” My mother did an ad for Neptune Society years ago and received a free cremation in payment. I was aghast, she thought it was cool, and pleased that it would “save you kids the expense when I’m no longer an earth mother.”

I turn the note over, noticing the flowery edging of a sympathy card, and find the bane of my existence as a writer—even a sick writer: two TYPOS!!!!

And finally, at the very bottom of the second side, nearly disappearing into the flower garden is this: “Please accept our apologies if this letter has reached you at a time of serious illness or death in your family.” According to the advice nurse—no apology is needed.

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