2.22.2006

Generational Bridges Gapped


When I was 14 I accompanied my mother to a funeral for a relative I had never met. My mother was newly single and not ready to brave an event like that alone so she asked me to go along.

The funeral home was in an old part of the city and was once a Victorian home. I remember the high ceilings, huge expanses of gorgeous woodwork and moldings and how each corridor and room was more gracious than the next. The lighting was dim and the streetlights cast a glow outside the seven-foot tall windows.

The gathering room was crowded and smelled of too many differing perfumes and colognes and I remember I could feel the nervousness radiating from my mother and thinking about how hard this obligation was for her at this time of her life.

My mother made me get rid of the ever present stick of Juicy Fruit gum that I was chewing but that was okay because the taste was gone about 2 minutes after the chewing began anyway.

She introduced me to distant family and friends as we made our way to the viewing room. Once there we took our place in line and waited our turn. With each passing moment my mother was getting more and more tense as we drew closer to the casket and her ancient great aunty and so I did what I still do today when someone is stressed and I want to help. I insist on trying to make them laugh.

There were just three people in front of us and I leaned into my mother’s ear and said, “You will introduce me to him before I pretend to cry over his body won’t you?” My poor mother was horrified but could not hold back the laughter. And my mother’s laughter was legendarily loud and raucous.

She squeezed my hand to within an inch of it’s life as she introduced me to her now scowling ancient aunty and recent widow, and explained that the laughter came from my reminding her about; and she launched into an old family story that aunty was privy to as well. Aunty’s scowl turned into a melancholy smile and proceeded to tell my mother how blessed she was to have such a comfort as myself at times like these.

Disaster averted and I would be allowed to live another day. Or at the very least, a lecture of extraordinary proportions all the way home had been avoided.

My mother was not far from laughter the rest of the night and I remember thinking that that was how all these people should see her, glowing and radiant, not meek and beaten.

It’s how I remember her still.


posted by Angel @ 11:08 PM |

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