The last part of the long run

“Paul, here she is.” The grandmother who didn’t live long enough to meet this fine son of mine. So beautiful with prematurely white hair swept up in a pompadour forming a halo around her head, an orchid pinned to a pale gold organza gown. I remembered so well the day she bought it.

He hurried to my side, squeezed my hand, and touched my throat to speak to no avail.

I whispered, “I want three red roses for her headstone. Paul hugged me and patted my back. Three for Pop; one from me, one from you and one from Amy. The two of my children who never knew my mother only through stories and snapshots.

Paul’s new friend Rueben directed us to Walmart around the corner; we had half an hour before the appointed hour of the graveside service, the day after Mother’s Day. A kind saleswoman said there weren’t any flowers left and as we walked away dejected, she called us back. “Look in the shopping cart over there where there should be some leftovers. We thanked her, selected six roses and left.

Once more , we waited next to the fence silent in the rented car, the wilted roses, three red-three pink, between us. A shiny black hearse pulled up; Paul got out of the car and around to open my door, and steered me up and out.

I was dressed in a black pants suit, my son wore his only dark suit and we stood there with our six flowers at a cemetery in Chicago on a cold spring morning.  The back of the hearse opened; a somber man dressed in black, pulled along a polished wooden box balanced on rollers onto the tailgate. Paul edged me forward; the limousine transporting the family hadn’t arrived yet. On this brisk windy morning, we were there to greet my father who lived to be ninety four and I murmured to Paul, “No matter how old, you never want to let them go.”

The driver moved aside and we approached, my son and I. I reached out to touch the coffin. My hand flattened on the box and in a quavery voice, I sang the song Pop and I had sung together for ten years, mostly by long distance. I would sing one line, he the next; a silly song about a goat he taught me when I was a child. We never had a real conversation but we had our song. It never failed to make us laugh, and in the long run, that’s more than good enough.

Enjoy more snippets

Thanks for sharing my memoirs. Love, Charmaine

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