Rebecca Lane/T.F. Farnsworth: Her Viewpoint
This is a charming room; bright, plenty of space, more than enough chairs. I see a few people have arrived.
The flowers are beautiful. The smell isn't overpowering but has just a hint of fragrance. It counters the gloom of the rain outside. It's certainly relaxing. I feel so calm despite my sudden feelings of excitement to be entertaining.
I cannot for the life of me understand why I chose this dress. White polka dot on dark blue taffeta. Not my favorite dress. Mom must have suggested it. After all, it is after Labor Day. “No white after Labor Day," she says.
Heloise is her goddess. She reads her scrapbook of “Hints from Heloise” articles before each party. So that's it. This is mom's party. I'll do anything to make mom happy, because she does the same for me. I'll even wear this taffeta dress.
Mom always knows how to entertain. She gave her three children the responsibility of amusing the children of her and dad's friends who came over to the house. We were Todd, Tina and Tammy, and were taught how to delight them.
We three perfected the art of entertaining. We could locate a fun activity for our guests within minutes of their arrival, except for Dingy Donnie. He was the only child of our mom's boss. He hated everything we suggested for the first half hour. He would go on and on about why he couldn't or didn't want to partake of all the activities we enthusiastically presented to him.
He hated board games (“Doesn't allow creativity”). Marbles. (“Can't really control them.”). Going outside to catch fireflies. (“Surest way to twist an ankle”).
But then we offered cards. He asked if we had a hat or a bowl. Intrigued, we found a hat. He spent the next hour flinging cards into a hat while we picked them up and gave them back to him to do it again. It was the most boring time of my life, but one of my better entertainment achievements. Ha ha.
Mom helped me to develop my ability to read people quickly. It helps out in my sales job. Have I thanked mom for the ability I have on reading my clients' needs? Well, I'll make sure I do just that once this party is over.
Ah, these sandwiches sure look good. And what a nice spread of vegetables, fruits and the corresponding dips. I'll bet Tina brought them. She's the healthy one in the family. We all kid her about living to be 110 years old. What a great sister.
Actually she and Todd are the best siblings anyone could ask for or choose. We call ourselves the Three Musketeers. We still laugh at our “T” family names. Thomas married Teresa who begat Todd, Tina and Tammy. We all took a vow to NEVER do that to our families. And we haven't.
Those two are my cheerleaders. They are always encouraging me to try things just like the spelling bee when I was ten. I came in fifth, but all they said was “That was great! There were 35 kids in this contest and to come in fifth was quite an achievement.” They were sincere about it, too. I got cake, ice cream and a stuffed animal.
Tina has always taken care of me. When we were younger it was as if I were her personal doll. She named me Tam-Tam and I followed her everywhere. She always gave me advice on how to deal with gossips and sadness. When I turned ten, Todd convinced her that she should call me Tammy. He said she could leave permanent scars in my life if anyone caught wind of “Tam-Tam” in high school. We laughed so at that.
Hey, where are they anyway? Oh, probably went in the kitchen area to help mom. I can't get over how clean this place is. The windows sparkle even in the rain and the floors are so clean. Where is this place? I've never been here before.
Hey, Betty. Oh, she can't hear me. I'll wait until she comes closer. I could not have picked a better friend. More like a sister, really. But she looks so sad. I know it's distracting to her to have her son go over to the war again. What is this, his fourth time? She's convinced he's going to get killed; that his luck will run out. I have to give her a hug. She's been such a good friend. Doesn't gossip nor doesn't whine and is always up for an adventure. She's upbeat, too. Those are qualities few people have.
She's been there for me during my tough times. Tina's abortion. My college love telling me he “feels more gay than straight.” All the compliments I get about my wardrobe come from her help in locating just the right outfit. Through all my laughter and tears, she's been there for me. She is what I want and need when I want and need her. I can never repay her for her friendship. I should tell her that she means the world to me and that my life would be harder without her. I'll take her out for one of our coffee and pie talk days tomorrow.
Oh, Dave's talking to her. He has such broad shoulders for people to lean on. And even after all these years, he makes my heart jump. He is so sexy. Betty says it's because he sends off these vibes to me. She's always telling me that she has never seen a man so focused on a woman even after twenty years of marriage.
He is supportive. He allows me to have the job I have even though I must sometimes travel to national sales meetings. Not every husband would be so understanding. He lets me pick out the wall colors in the house because that's “my nest”. I know he doesn't really care for some of my choices but he pretends he does. I never feel as though he's not interested in what I say or do. He is special. Very special. And tonight I'll let him know.
I really am very blessed to have had these people in my life. What a great party this is.
Wait! What? Why am I moving? Where am I going? Where is everyone? I can't hear anyone. Where did they all go? Huh? I can hear someone. Yes, someone's talking.
“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here to pay our last respects to Tammy.”
Rebecca Lane,whose pen nameis T.E. Farnsworth, of Anderson, Indiana, has taught in a prison, and adjudicated Social Security Disability cases and welfare cases in Indianapolis.
What a fascinating story! A funeral as observed by the deceased, who wishes she had told her loved ones how much she appreciated them. Keep Downstate Story publishing offbeat stories like this by donating here.