Sunday, September 04, 2011

Long term care

I'm at the long-term care facility at Laguna Honda to see my friend S. Passing the art room, I see two women wearing white lace mantillas. They seem to be leading a meeting, or a ceremony. The door is closed, so I can't hear them.

S has me wheel her to the farm out back. There's a life-size bronze statue of a rabbit-headed man. He's talking on a cell phone. I find him vaguely disturbing, but S laughs when I tell her so. She's more worried about the evil ones. They're still down at the far end of the farm, so we can't go there.

Instead we hang out with the turkeys and the goats. The big toms come right up to the fence, looking self-important, their feathers puffed out, their psychedelic, prehistoric heads. One goat keeps butting his head against our hands, wanting to be petted. The hills are all lost in mist, and I help S wrap a blanket around her shoulders.

Last weekend, I was in Utah, where the sun gave hard edges to everything. I saw my name on a tombstone in the cemetery. It wasn't someone else with the same name, it was me. Dad had put my name, and the names of my siblings and my stepmother, on the back of the monument he'd sculpted for my mom's tombstone. I didn't know about this until I saw it, after the unveiling, walking behind the tombstone to pose for a picture.

It stuck with me all week, the strangeness of seeing my name there.

I'm leaving S and on my way out when I hear singing. It's several voices, in tight harmony, and it's not a tune I recognize. I'm not even sure it's a style of music I'm familiar with. As I round the corner, the elevator doors close on the voices, and they fade quickly away. I take the next elevator.

On the first floor, I hear them again. They're ahead of me, and now I see about ten people in dark clothing, following a stretcher. I speed up, hoping to hear more of the song. They're still singing, and walking at a good clip. I can see their backs, a woman's straight black hair smoothed into a chignon.

Although I have no more than a glimpse at the stretcher, I'm almost certain they are singing this person into the next world.

Today I think, that wouldn't be a bad way to go.


sage said...

I have never been to see my dad's headstone. It was my sister's afterthought, a way to assuage her endless supply of guilt, or a reminder of it maybe. I don't know if my name's on it. You're mother's monument, I'd like to see that.

j9kovac said...

RE: the tombstone. How creepy and yet, perfectly appropriate. Isn't that what family is all about? Pulling you in whether you like it or not.

Geo said...

Your name is also engraved upon the little stone that is my heart. But of course that's a far cry from finding yourself unexpectedly on the roster of a graveyard. Ack, but there it is. I hope you made an appropriate face for the family photo.