Many people here have lost loved ones in the past few months.
It's made me think again of the series of funerals for parents, assorted aunts, and in-laws over the years.
There are old sadnesses there too, of course, but a few other memories too.
I helped care for my Aunt Margaret in her last years, and I had to arrange for her burial.
She and her husband had bought adjoining plots in a small, lovely cemetery in the Marin county hills, and after several years of increasingly ill-health she joined him there at last.
Tom and I were getting the paperwork done, and the representative of the place was giving us the tour, doing his full line of patter at us, and took us out to see the grave site.
It was a very pretty place, lying in a meadow surrounded by wooded hills.
The whole place was lovely and quiet, and there were hawks floating in the air above us.
The guy was yammering on about their regulations for flowers and all, kind of running on automatic.
The point was, I think, that they only allowed real flowers, not plastic.
But Tom and I had been doing days of arrangements, and were just hearing the quiet around us: the green and the wildlife.
I think he noticed we weren't quite paying attention, and I realized I had to say something back at him.
So I said we were just admiring the hawks, and they were lovely.
And, it turned out, he hadn't really been paying that much attention to us either, because he responded:
Yes, they come down at night to feed.
He hadn't quite heard me, and assumed I was talking about the deer.
They don't allow plastic flowers, because the deer come down at night and browse through the grounds.
It did add a certain macabre air to the whole proceedings.
At Tom's dad's funeral, his mother's sister Anita, was having a grand time.
(Everything was always about her, you know.)
Never mind that Tom had lost his father, her sister had been widowed.
The day is obviously about Anita.
And Tom is already rather miserable about how things are being arranged.
Anita had interred her husband, not in a grave, but in a little file drawer thingy, a crypt.
And she talked her sister into getting them for her and Tom's dad.
So we had just finished watching Tom's dad filed away in the little drawer thing, inside the smelly, creepy dead people's storage with all the fake flowers.
–instead of being buried next to grandmama, and Tom's kid sister who drowned when she was 18.
But Anita had her way, so Tom's dad and mom are both in here:
After the service, Anita insisted on following the guy with the forklift and standing around while they edged the coffin into the little space.
I really don't think they mean for the public to be standing there watching them bang the thing around and get it in.
But there we are, and it's taking forever, but finally they are done.
So the fun is over, right?
Anita has already paid for her own little file drawer over near her husband's slot.
And she can't remember where it is.
So the nice workmen call in and look up Uncle Walter's location for her, and walk her over to it.
But she didn't want to visit Walter, she wants to check out her own crypt.
And she can't find it.
She's pitching a serious fit at this point.
So the nice patient workmen call the office, and they find her crypt number for her, and it's right on the top row where she wanted it.
(Closer to heaven? Further away from the devil — more of a concern, I'd think.)
So there it is.
But it doesn't have her name on it yet.
So she's literally screaming at these poor men about how come her name isn't on her gravestone.
I sooooo couldn't even look at Tom, since I knew we were both thinking:
Fine, let's just get your name on that sucker, and shove you in it now.