I called Cusack Mortuary while driving into the office today. The first time I called the 877 phone number and got a message about all the lines being busy. So then I tried again and it simply immediately started making the “You’ve been disconnected” tone. I called the local 386 number and it rang through.

A woman answered the phone and asked if she could help me. I asked her, “Is this [name redacted]?” 1 She said that, no, it was [name redacted]. I told her my name — I spelled my last name twice — and explained that I had received an email on Saturday night from [name redacted], Allen’s administrative assistant, and that the email contained tracking codes for my mother’s ashes. I told her that this email didn’t indicate which shipping service was used, and I couldn’t find any record of the tracking numbers at FedEx, UPS, or the United States Postal Service. She asked me to hold on while she tried to get someone who could help me.

About a minute later she returned and said, “Here’s Charles.”

I heard a faint, raspy breath say something like, “Hello, this is Allen.” I could barely hear him so I repeated, “Hello? Did you say this is Allen?”

I couldn’t understand his reply and had no idea if I was talking to Allen or someone else; I couldn’t tell if the person on the other end of the line was at death’s door or if I simply had a bad connection. I said, “Okay, I think this is Allen but I can’t hear you. I’m calling because I can’t tell which company you used to ship my mom’s ashes. The email doesn’t say.”

FedExI clearly heard him say the word FedEx, so I said, “Did you say FedEx?” and he said, “Yes.”

I said, “Okay. Thanks,” and hung up.

I just tried again to enter the tracking codes I was sent at the FedEx website, but they don’t appear to be in a standard FedEx tracking code format, and they’re not found when I search for them.

1 the name of the administrative assistant who emailed me on behalf of Allen on Saturday night