I took my mother to the cemetery this morning. We went to visit Bobby’s grave. My mother has always been a big fan of cemeteries. Not just any cemetery, of course, but the ones where our loved ones remains are buried. As a kid I always thought it was weird but as I’ve grown older I’ve learned to like them also. I can’t tell you how many pictures we have of us four kids in front of various headstones. And the grandkids, too. I always tried not to step on the person I loved and I was careful not to step on other people’s loved ones, either. We used to visit my father’s grave site, at the military cemetery, but it’s been years since we’ve been there. There’s no personality at Pinelawn. And it was just too sad to think of my father there, deep in the ground, far away from where is mother and now his son is buried. My mother went through a period there when she wanted to have him moved. If I had the money I would do it for her but I think it’s very expensive. She has made it known that she does not want to be buried next to my father. About ten years ago she gave me a card for my birthday. In the card was the deed to a cemetery plot. Two, in fact. One for her and one for me. I was outraged. Was she trying to jinx me? Did she think I was in imminent danger of dying and if so, did she think I wanted to spend eternity right next to her? Eventually I got over it. Not for nothing, but I would always be assured of a resting place just down the road, so to speak, from my brother, Bobby, my grandmother, and of course, right next to mom.
Today, though, dawned gray and windy. My mother came by at about 10:30 this morning and we headed out. On the way we stopped at a new bodega she found and she had some chicken and rice and I had a meat pie. She likes to eat early. Dinner can be no later than 5 p.m. After we ate we headed to Port Jeff. She’s very happy with the new caretaker. The old one wasn’t too swift on the uptake. He didn’t keep the grounds up to her standards, although he did plant a burning bush (no pun intended, I hope) at “our” site so she would know where she was being buried. I commented that she really wouldn’t have to know at that point and we both laughed. I put some gloves on so I could clear the remains of the poison ivy from my grandmother’s grave. The caretaker had cleaned it up nicely. Then I poured a gallon of vinegar where the roots were. My mother read somewhere that vinegar kills poison ivy. I wondered if it was going to kill the azalea also…We set some flowers at Bobby’s grave then headed back to the car, taking one flower out so she could put it on her friend, Chris’ grave. Me and Mom are several hundred feet from Bobby and Grandma. There are nice rolling hills and little winding roads. Chris is buried about 50 feet from where me and Mom will be and Mom is happy because they can “visit”. Now you know why I thought all this grave stuff was weird when I was young. We’re in a newer section and after Mom put a carnation by Chris’ headstone we decided to explore a little. We read all the interesting headstones. Ones whose birthdays were close to our dates of birth, or who had nice artwork on the tombstone. There were alot of young kids in their 20’s who recently died, Mom commenting on all the nice flowers and knicknacks and how sad it all was. Mom says all the young kids died riding motorcycles. I don’t think so but she’s convinced.
Then a young guy with maybe his grandmother pulled ahead and parked his truck. They got out. The old woman was wearing a babushka and a long black dress with black tie-up shoes, like old women do. She set some flowers in front of a tombstone me and mom were admiring just a few moments earlier and started to cry loudly. We walked back to the car, leaving them to their grief and pondering ours.