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Monday, June 14, 2010

"Who wants flowers when you're dead? Nobody." - J.D. Salinger

His sense of the dramatic was unfulfilled.

After fifteen years he had decided it was time to visit his parents graves. He would have preferred a cold, rainy day.

He settled on a hot, dry day in June.

On the drive over he thought about what he may feel. He even wondered if he would feel anything. After fifteen years...

Yet something told him it was time, time to reopen the closet without his eye's being closed.

After pulling into a parking place he noticed a family exiting a mini-van, Mom and Dad and four kids in tow. All were dressed in shorts and t-shirts. They were headed to the Chapel, looking as if they were embarking on a day at Six-Flags.

Welcome to Dead-land, no lines, no waiting, and you don't have to be this tall to ride this ride.

He walked towards the building that wasn't hawking flowers at an exaggerated price, preying on the guilt of the bereaved.

Vultures, he thought.

The sign read information and he needed some. His parents had been on their fifth respective spouses when they died, so they were in different locations. Nothing side by side-no holding hands for eternity.

He had made it to his Mother's funeral, stoned on cheap weed and crazed with grief.

He was dimly aware of a bright, cold, windy graveside service. His stepfather glared at him across the open ground, his Mother laying between them, the sun sparkling on the polished wood of her coffin. He glared back, although it was decidedly hard to glare while sobbing.

His brother was there, two cousins, and he knew some friends of the family. He was such a mess no one could console him. He remembered he didn't care to be consoled.
He wanted to feel, wanted to rage and cry and curse God. So he did.

But now, he needed a map to find the spot. He remembered nothing about it.

He entered the building and a sense of whispering became evident. Out of respect? Not like loud conversation was going to disturb the deceased, but he did it anyway.

The older, large, florid faced man behind the counter asked in somber tones if he could help him. Yes, he whispered, I'm looking for my parents. The way he said it made him think he was six again, and had lost them in the grocery store.

Names? Of course. He told him and added he needed to find his grandmother and Mom's parents too. The look said, oh, another one who was too busy with whatever passed for his life to keep up with his dead family. His return look agreed.

This way please. The man ushered him into a private room with a round, glassed-top table and two reasonably comfortable chairs. If you'll wait here?

Sure. Not like he wanted to wander around the building-his imagination was way too developed for that.

The walls advertised styles and makes of headstones, fonts for lettering, and pretty, snappy colors, to cheer things up. Pictures of the deceased were apparently now in vogue and could be placed in some type of weatherproofing so one could view Aunt Selma in her Bolero outfit for eons.

The man returned. Not once, but three times. His Father was placed beside his father's Mom and her sister and could be easily found. His Mom, well, she was listed as deceased, but the plot she was reserved for had never been utilized. What? Her irresponsible, alcoholic behavior was evident even in death. Just like her, he thought.

He called his brother on his cell. After explaining the situation, and agreeing it was just like her, he thought maybe her husband had purchased a plot for them both. He had died two years after she.

He gave the man his name. Bingo, there they were.

His grandparents were in a section that had recently been re-plotted and the man apologized, the maps of the re-plotting were not available quite yet. They would be difficult to find.

Dude, he thought, they're dead...they couldn't have gotten far. But he held his tongue.

They were in three completely different sections of the cemetery.

OK, who was he going to piss off first? No, not Dad. Of course, he should visit him first or he would never-and around here never was a really long time-hear the end of it.

He consulted his map and began to wind through the acreage. He found the section, consulted the map again, and parked.

He looked, and wandered and looked some more. Nothing. So he began walking, no rhyme or reason, just reading names on markers. His eye caught a familiar name on a marker. A name from his childhood, the woman who rented them his childhood home, a friend of his Grandmother. Odd, he thought, but it gave him a sign he was close.


A woman in a small white compact pulled in behind his truck. She got out, smiling in that way that told him she worked there and it was obvious he was not finding what he had come for.

As she approached he noticed her smile even more. Her teeth reminded him of stars, yellow and very far apart.

He explained himself and she began assisting in the search. Then he found it. His Grandmother and her sister side by side. But a large, old tree was where his Father was supposed to be.

He explained the problem and she dropped to her knees, digging in the ground next to his Grandmother. He wondered if he should help, but his imagination said are you kidding? Dig in a graveyard? Hello? Have you never seen a George Romero film?

And after all, she worked there. Let her get grabbed by a bony, undead hand. Screw that.

Sometimes, she said, these markers get overgrown and can be hard to find. But she was helpful and digging like crazy. It was when she began flinging worms over her shoulder that he asked her to stop. It was obvious, and way too creepy, that his Father wasn't there.

She took his name and number and said she would research it and not to worry, although this hardly ever happens, we haven't completely lost one yet.

I'll bet, he thought.

The woman, now with grass stained knees,returned to her car and sputtered away.

He talked to his Grandmother for a bit, explaining he had been in the Army and in Germany when she died and he tried to come home, but they wouldn't let him. He really was sorry.

He talked to his great Aunt, who at one time had been a dancer in the Ziegfeld Follies. All he could remember was when he was six and she was babysitting him and her robe came open. She was nude beneath the robe. She was also in her sixties.

Thanks for the memories.

He returned to his truck and made his way to the plot where his Mom and her husband were. He found them, quite easily, side by side in a sun baked, shade free spot. Their markers weathered, and obviously forgotten. He felt like shit.

He was the one that had forgotten, or couldn't be bothered to bring flowers. Not once.

He knelt and touched her marker, softly...almost a caress, and he said what he needed to say.

He really wished it had been raining.

It would have explained his face being wet.

2 comments:

Michelle said...

Geoff - you are an amazing writer. You really need to publish.

All the best,

Michelle

Anonymous said...

Thanks :)
--
http://www.miriadafilms.ru/ приобрести фильмы
для сайта writer1020.blogspot.com

My new disclaimer...yeah I know.

Okay, the old disclaimer was tired. The ideas were outdated and keeping me stuck in a place I don't want to be anymore...so now for something more refreshing.

I have recently changed my views regarding women. Seems I had some issues with the fairer sex due to past pain and self- centered fear. (Yes...duh applies.)

I'm done with that.

Being in recovery has helped me change my entire life, perceptions and attitudes. I cannot change my history but I can change my today and my future.

I recently realized that the women I know in recovery are some of the strongest, bravest, most gentle and kind teachers I have ever had. You exemplify integrity and spiritual growth, and I hope you know who you are.

Some may know of my past marital and relationship history and been a participant in them as well. It's past and that's where it stays...in the past.

I own my part in those failures but claim no more responsibility in any misery you may be experiencing. I am sorry, but it's time to get off the cross. We need the wood.


Thank you all...