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Once a parent dies and is cremated, you’d think that would be the end of it.

While visiting Mom several months after Dad passed away I found his ashes behind the wastebasket in my old bedroom! A burgundy velvet bag, on the bottom shelf of a built-in unit, behind the garbage can... jeez!

Mom was pissed when Dad died. How could he inconvenience her like that? She had schedules to maintain, countertops to scour, and judgments to pass. Mom is disguised as a petite elderly woman and everyone assumes “petite elderly woman” translates into “sweet little old lady.” Truthfully, she is self-centered; bitter, constantly disappointed and critical of everyone and everything.

Growing up, my sister and I thought of her as an emotion’s terrorist, as she constantly made us feel we were never good enough. It was shameful that we didn’t stand up straight, keep our rooms spotless and get straight A’s in school. There were many times she didn’t even say anything; she confirmed her disappointment with deep pitiful sighs, accompanied by disappointed shakes of her head, and pursed lips.

On the other hand, Dad was a wonderful and generous man. He lavished us with hugs and plenty of praise. He loved to laugh at his own corny jokes; that had my sister and I doing major eye rolls. He would always tell us how proud he was of us, even if it was for a ‘C’ in math. How he ended up married to my Mom has mystified my sister and me for as long as we can remember.

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