Thursday, October 25, 2007


My mother and father in-law are 75 and 85. They go to a funeral every week. Memorials and wakes are their primary social junket. After the service, they eat ham or egg-salad sandwiches and sip coffee. These gatherings exist in a unique temporal dimension: conversation shifts seamlessly between past and present, potent and trivial. They gossip. They decry the cost of gas and talk about whose grandchild appears headed down the worst road. They fall back fifty years to wedding nights, births, and communions. Disappointment and betrayals get yet another look. Really, I can't imagine (fill in the blank) is gone. Who makes the better rhubarb crisp? Then they pick up their plates and go home.

Today I put Thurston's ashes in their new box and set them on the long smooth shelf next to my father's. I watch both boxes and think about my shelf, filling up.


Max Alberts said...

“Old Woman” by Mimi Farina

An old woman shakes out her dusty carpet into the morning air,
Worn thoughts go flying free, side by side with happiness and despair. A nebulous dawn saunters with careless attitude into the day, dreams hover overhead, whispers of night soon fade away.
Then she shuffles back into her home where she waits for the sun,
Knowing that on its arrival her day has begun.
Oh, grandmamma, is it true what they say?
The river of life keeps on flowing,
While time will take you away.

Long distant memories linger, and finally bring her to see
visions of childhood, shadows of uncertainty. In a moment of reason
she hastens to summon her bravery, facing alone what she knows
is her destiny. Then the clock on the wall strikes a time that is nobody’s fool, children go by holding hands as they hurry to school.

Oh, grandmamma, is it true what they say?
The river of life keeps on flowing,
While time will take you away.

stephanie said...

I was just visiting my parents this past week who are 76 and 81 and I am so blessed they are so active and in such good health. I do admit thought each time I seem them could this be the last. aarrggghhh. They go through the same thing with funerals.

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

Oooh - the image of the shelf filling up - powerful!