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She finally figured out what was most important for her dying mother

Posted on 11/15/2015

Washington Post — “I’ve changed my mind,” my 89-year-old mother announced one Sunday some months ago. “I want to be buried in my own clothes.”

When she and my father had drawn up their burial contracts, she’d requested to be buried in a simple white shroud, in the Orthodox Jewish tradition known as tahara. Her pronouncement came out of the blue, as she was in fine health (for her age), but she was quite definitive. She’d even scribbled down her wishes on a scrap of paper and attached it to her copy of the contract.

A few weeks later, she told me she’d chosen the outfit, something she’d worn the previous week; a nice linen suit with a black skirt and black-and-white print jacket. Her description didn’t ring a bell.

“It’s what I wore to Daddy’s funeral,” she said. My father had died six years before. I filed the information away in the back of my mind, with some of the other details we’d talked about: “do not resuscitate”; no exceptional measures; burial, not cremation.

For weeks after that, the thought of the suit haunted me. Every Sunday when we’d meet for lunch, I’d want to bring it up, ask her to identify it in some way in her closet, even describe the jewelry she wanted to accessorize with. But I always found a way to put it off. I didn’t want to think about — no less talk about — death, not while she seemed so very much alive

It was one of so many questions I wanted to ask my mother before it was too late. It’s easy to think that there’ll always be time. And this should have been one of the easier things to talk about: Nothing sentimental about a black-and-white linen suit I couldn’t even remember, was there? But I felt I had to be sure I didn’t get it wrong.

Read the full article in the Washington Post.