AS YOU READ THIS, I trust I am partially faux. If you read my columns, you may think that is only fitting.
I hope I am lying, warm and snug in an adjustable hospital bed, hooked to a morphine drip, tended to by My Prince, who is gazing at me adoringly, admiringly, because I have yet again survived.
Or not. They’ve told me it is the rare person who dies of hip-replacement surgery, but if anyone can do it, it is I.
Clearly, no one else is taking this seriously—no tearing of the hair, rending of the garments or booking of flights from here and there.
But I’ve been preparing. My toenails have been professionally polished a brilliant candy-apple red, Opi’s I’m Not Really a Waitress (there’ll be no tsk-ing at my feet while on the operating table, or as they tie the tag on my toe to wheel me to the morgue). My hair has regained a youthful shade of brown, and my legs, of course, are shaved.
On Sunday I cleaned the fridge, discarding years of gifts of tapenade—how did we accrue so many? The house has been dusted and vacuumed. I tidied my desk, tossing a surprising number of desiccated jelly beans from last Easter. You know how people snoop after funerals, particularly those who did not swoop in while I was still capable of saying farewell, just saying.
Set aside was an individual packet of tissues from the Thibadeau Mortuary Services of Philadelphia, a thoughtful little gift the Prince brought back from a funeral some months ago. Someone might find it handy.
I hope I managed to make lasagne. My fancy one, with the layers of béchamel and tomato. Something for the table. “Lord, that woman could cook,” they’ll say. Someone else can make salad. I hate salad. On the upside of being dead, I won’t have to think about lettuce ever again.
On the off chance I survive, the Prince can eat the lasagne while I loll about in a drugged stupor, hopefully losing many pounds. Washington Hospital Center has dreadful food—I know this from unfortunate experience.
My friend Kathleen, whom you may have met helping me buy a bra for Baby’s wedding, told me she’ll be happy to help with my funeral, should it come to that. My plans sound solid, she said over Monday-morning breakfast at Capitol Hill’s Tune Inn, and she promised she’d keep people away from the fridge—even while I was telling her that I want people to admire it (just don’t let them look in the cabinets).
She said she’ll arrange staffing of the house during the funeral because, you know, thieves read obituaries, and will be the first one back to lay out the refreshments and greet the mourners. She also gave me several Shiseido face masks so my face will glow on the operating table, or elsewhere. She seems energized by this, even a little giddy, being of a similarly joyous and optimistic Eastern European heritage.
On our way back to her car, we saw a bum peeing into a trash can on Pennsylvania Avenue, which I thought was very polite and well aimed. This is neither here nor there, just interesting.
The surgeon, who promised he’d see me on the other side (though he could say that whether or not I pull through), told me I can have the hip bone if I wish. Though he thought it an odd request.
I wonder if they’ll boil it down for me, or just put it in a baggy. What I’m thinking is, it might be an interesting memento mori on the mantel, or perhaps on a side table. There should be a hole somewhere in the middle (right?), and it could be used as a frog to support a clutch of tulips, a spray of daffodils.
This is a gardening column, right?
See you next week, maybe.
LittleBird “Stephanie Gardens” will be back writing about all things botanical if she survives her hip-replacement surgery. Fingers crossed.