So now you know I talk to and see dead people and have been able to since I was a child. You know I grew up with parents who owned a funeral home and that we slept there, ate lunches there with my father, and that I worked there from 13 to 20 years old. This is my background information to today’s memory. You need to know it because none of this makes sense unless you do.
I was sixteen (many decades ago) and had a boyfriend. We wanted to visit his brother who was a professor at a university in Toronto. I approached my parents one day to ask if we would be able to travel together for a weekend to visit him. My parents knew this professor very well and agreed easily. My dad offered to give us his grey station wagon for our little excursion. I thought this was extremely generous and kind of him and thanked him. He didn’t say much.
A few days later, just before our trip to Toronto was to begin, my dad told me he would pay for the gas for the trip if I agreed to bring a passenger to Toronto with us.
Without thinking I agreed.
Honestly, it would never have dawned on me to ever disagree with him. So I didn’t ask anything because I didn’t think anything of it. We were taking a passenger with us. I was a little disappointed to have someone in the wagon with us who we would have to create conversation with for four hours. But I thought, it would only be one way. Dad did say our passenger would not be returning with us but staying in Toronto. That sounded okay. I told my boyfriend who agreed.
We were sixteen….no car of our own and feeling pretty excited to take a trip together with only one adult, who wasn’t related to us. We felt like adults!
On Friday (our departure day) my Dad told us to drop by the funeral home for some cash for our trip to pay for our gas and some expenses. We were so looking forward to our trip as it was a beautiful day.
When we arrived at the funeral home Dad told us our passenger’s name was Donald. No last name. He said he was going to a funeral home in Toronto and that we were to drop him off. He gave directions to my boyfriend who was going to do the driving that day. Dad told us Donald was ready and in the vehicle all set to go.
So my boyfriend and I went to the parking lot at the back of the funeral home and walked up to the station wagon. We could not see Donald’s head. Unusual. Is he short? Is he in the vehicle or did he leave to go to the bathroom?
No. Donald was a big man, probably six feet and two hundred pounds. He was also in his sixties or seventies. And he was also dead.
So my boyfriend and I were the removal service.
I don’t know why I didn’t see this coming.
My boyfriend and I put our suitcases in the back with Donald, got in the station wagon and began our trip with Donald in the back to Toronto. This was why Donald wasn’t returning with us! This was why Dad offered his wagon and free gas. Very sneaky. Very good maneuvering on his part. Neither of us had caught on at all.
We had to drive with the windows down.
A dead body can get a little smelly on a hot summer day cooped up in the station wagon. And no he wasn’t embalmed. The funeral home we were delivering him to would be responsible to preserve his body for his wake.
Donald was covered in a sheet. You might have thought my dad put him in a casket, but no, he was just covered in a sheet. There is a dead man laying down, covered with a sheet and us two teenagers are driving him south.
We didn’t think about washroom breaks or getting stopped. Thankfully, we did not get stopped because we drove the speed limit. We did, however, stop at Tim Horton’s for lunch.
When we pulled into the Tim’s, we realized we had a little problem. We were afraid to park near anyone for fear that someone would see a man laying down in the back of our wagon with a sheet up over his head. We decided to park at the farthest end of the parking lot that we possibly could and hoped no one would go near the vehicle and see our passenger.
We made it without incident to the funeral home in Toronto. We dropped Donald off and continued on for our weekend with his brother.
There is a level of comfort that I have with dead people that began with incidents like this. I chose this one because it is such a simple thing to do…drive to Toronto, stop at Tim Horton’s with your high school boyfriend, listen to your fav music in the car with him (and the dead guy in the back). It was all so normal.