About face…no, about effacing


I am “processing”, somewhat, a phone call I received from my beloved Mom last night. Forgive me if it seems morbid – but such topics tend to arise during the grieving process which, of course, the family continues to experience.

Over the weekend, as Craig’s partner visited her in Perth for the first time since Craig’s burial in May, Claude and Mom went to the Scotch Line Cemetery where the remains of Dad and Craig are buried, where Mom and Claude plan to join them in death – whenever that comes – and me, too.

It’s a double plot with, as I understand it, room for two caskets or up to eight cremation urns, more than enough room since we have all been, or will be, cremated when we leave this earthly plain.  And space for two head-stones side by side.

Claude double-checked with Mom about my plans and wondered if I was thinking I would like a head-stone. The plans have been that Mom and Dad would have their stone, as they already do (with the names of all their children on it) and that Craig and Claude would place a stone for themselves beside the first one (where the flowers are in the picture). Claude was wanting to make sure that I was not feeling crowded out, I guess. Up to eight urns…but room for just two head-stones.  (My sisters and their families have plans elsewhere.)

“Oh no!” I told Mom. “My plans have been to be buried in the plot, yes, but I had never contemplated having my own head-stone.”

Then I brought out the effacement (I thank my sponsor for that accurate description) as Mom explained that my name, and the details of my birth and death could go on the back of the stone that she and Dad have (the one with all four of the children’s names on the front).  As a matter of fact that would mean my name would then be visible to anyone coming in from the main gate even if it was facing away (an ‘about face’) from the front of the stone.  A bonus would be that the the old stone school house on the cemetery grounds (a school where my grandmother once taught!) is close enough that it would, at some point of the day, cast a shadow over my name.  Not that I am equating school with shadows…

I joked with Mom that piggy-backing on their stone would be more than satisfactory; that all I really needed was a brick with my name on it planted in the turf.  Then I spoke of myself as “just me”, meaning – among other things I suppose – that Kenn is single.

Despite the fact that I am absolutely sincere in wishing no more than that for my final resting place Mom challenged – and God love her for this – the “just me” thing.

Yet, as I recounted the conversation to my sponsor later, the effacement seemed so natural.

Without being deliberately self-denying, in the Saint Francis of Assisi style, for longer than I can remember I have tried not to claim too much of the planet’s oxygen or terra firma. This is not about being modest, believe me.  And it’s not like I haven’t hoarded material things!  No, it’s more about the way I see myself – probably best left to analysis, or private reflection, deeper than I could possibly blog about – at least for now. You’ve seen glimpses here…distorted views of what I “deserve”, for example.

I like how my sponsor reworded part of A.A.’s first step, which she applied to herself and wondered if it might fit for me, too:

We admitted we were powerless over alcohol; that our lives had become unbearable (as opposed to unmanageable). 

Not that I have been actively suicidal (although I suppose it could be argued that I was passively so).

This followed up on my observation the previous night that “My life was unmanageable…and then I drank.” In other words, despite the unquestionable love and support of my parents and siblings – which has been constant – I was living with all sorts of neuroses and, yes, unreported trauma quite young, long before I ever picked up a drink.  My self-image sucked. 

Therefore alcohol was my solution.


Believe it or not, articulating this makes me feel better!


2 thoughts on “About face…no, about effacing

  1. Nothing more than a coincidence. I don’t know which came first, the school or the cemetery, but they have co-existed for many, many years. The cemetery bought the school when it was closed and uses it for office space, maintenance tools and the like.

    Aunt Lily, my grandmother, taught all over the county at some point in her early years, although I only remember her teaching at the Stewart School in Perth.

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