Friday, January 31, 2014

Too young for funerals

In honor of the Year of the Horse, this is Davinci's horse from the Meijer Gardens that I photographed  a few years ago
I asked Shanna if she thought Oliver was old enough to go to Ramy's cousin's funeral the other day. Absolutely not! The Syrians are quite vocal in mourning especially when the circumstances surrounding the death were so tragic (young,sudden, leaving 3 children under 4 behind). He would be frightened.

I was a year older (7) when I went to my first funeral, my grandmother's. We were still living in NY; my grandparents: Ann Arbor. My father wanted to catch a plane to see her for the last time but I was no where to be found. I spent the summer days just wandering around town. My mother never asked where I was going.But they wanted to leave before I usually returned so a whole lot of screaming when I finally showed up. Once she was dead, the rest of us went to Ann Arbor by train.

I remember the smell of her embalmed body, very heavy of rose oil, attar for those of us in crossword puzzle world. It was years later when I was able to identify the smell. In my teens, there was a popular cheap perfume, A Rose is a Rose. I felt her cold waxiness. So strange.

The funeral itself was held on a terrace on their property. They lived on top of a steep hill (probably the steepest in our county) in a large house looking like it belonged on a southern plantation. It was a beautiful, sunny August day. The funeral itself was boring but then we went to the grave site. My father was alternately throwing himself over the casket wailing  and shaking me screaming in my face that I would never, NEVER see her again. Don't I understand? His cousin kept trying to calm him down. My grandfather seemed disgusted by his display and tried to order him to be quiet.

After years of being screamed at, I knew it was usually best not to react and just put on my usual poker face. He mistook my stoicism for lack of understanding about death. I did love my grandmother. She was bed ridden for as long as I knew her. These days she would have been treated much differently. She had diabetes. She would have been encouraged to do some exercise. I am sure her inactivity led to the stroke.

More snow in the forecast for us bedraggled winter hating folks.

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