Thursday, November 18, 2010

Waxahachie:Wal Mart, Ant Murdering & Mom's Gravesite.

My Mother with her brother and sister in France, a long time ago.

A photo that my Aunt dug up of my Mother. 1950's.

My Mother and Father in Spain

Me and my Mother in Rio

I felt great angst driving down to Waxahachie, not only because I was to see my Aunt and Uncle for the first time in many years, but also with the intent of seeing my Mother's gravesite for the first time.

Why had I not visited in all these years? I don't know. When my Mother passed away, I scrambled to throw together a memorial service in the city. Considering she really didn't "belong" to a church, I made a "donation" and voila, memorial service.

Maybe seeing the grave site makes it real. Maybe that is what  kept me away all these years. The Memorial is more fluid, less concrete, you can make of it what you will.

I had always promised myself that I would come down to Texas and dig her up - she was cremated in NY and my Aunt put her  urn in the ground on the plot of land in the cemetery that my Uncle's family had purchased many years ago.  I had never felt right with my mother in Texas. This wasn't her home. I understand that she was being "watched" over by her sister, but still.  Where WAS my Mother's final resting spot? France? NY? Beirut, which she loved so much? 

I had notions of what my visit to my Mother's gravesite would be like. I imagined that I would get her a beautiful bouquet of flowers, maybe bring her favorite food, and sit down and have a picnic with her and just talk. A friend suggested I bring a silly little gift to leave on the site. For some reason, I brought her diamond wedding band instead. I put it on my right ring finger before I left Los Angeles.

Since my mother's passing all those years ago, I've  never really dreamt about her – maybe 5, 6 times that I can remember. This past year during one of the darker periods when clarity and the harsh brutality of a situation is revealed to you, I had an epiphany about my Mother: Her life; her relationship with my father; her dreams; her disappointments.  Everything clicked. It all made sense. SHE made sense.

This went on a few days on and off. It was like I was getting pinged with information. Epiphany; Clarity; Epiphany; Clarity. And then one day, as I was sitting in my car waiting in the left hand turn lane on Franklin near Cahuenga, I felt her.

She was sitting next to me.

I’ve never experienced anything like that before -and at one  point  I reached over and put my hand in the passenger seat and said I am so sorry, I am so sorry for all that you went through, I am so so sorry. I get it. I understand now. And I am so sorry I wasn't there at the very end. I love you. And then just like that “it/she” was gone.

And, oh did I weep, wept like nothing I had never wept before. I remember when my dog passed away in 2002, I cried and cried and I had told people at the time that I wept more for my dog that I ever had when my Mother passed away.

Well, this certainly cancelled that out.

I respected my mother more than ever before.

Now, going to the cemetery seems like more of a formality. Perhaps this was the end to the grieving that that I had finally allowed myself to do all these years later.

Being here in Waxahachie, I know for sure she is not here. I think we know this, and I understand the reasoning of having a place to go to honor, to show respect or just talk to a loved one who has passed on.  I get it, but I also feel like: they're not there. I mean, really. Would you be? If you had a choice? Didn't think so.

My Aunt insisted on going with me - I think she felt it was her duty to do so - I really didn't want her to come for a couple of reasons - I didn't want to stress her out, and like I said I had this idea of what it would be like.  I also think my Aunt carries around that awful Catholic guilt and that she wouldn't feel right if she didn't go with me. And for that, I love that she treated me like a daughter.

So, off we went.

My idea of getting her beautiful elegant flowers went out the window the minute we pulled up to WAL MART. Fucking Wal Mart. OMG, and my first thought was: Mom would KILL me!!!! NOOOOOOOOOOOO!

But we were near-ish to the cemetery, I know this was taxing on my Aunt, sooo.... Walmart it was.

We picked some pink flowers and a planter to hold them.

My Aunt said it didn't really matter as the flowers always get stolen. People take them and "re-gift" them to other gravesites. I actually laughed, but then realized I guess leaving the wedding band was a no go. (Small town and all, I thought it would be fine! You know, quaint lil' town and all...)

As we drove in, I thought DO NOT fall apart, do not  do this to your Aunt.  You have cried enough. This will be fine. Do not, do no do not turn into a blubbering mess.

And there it was.

In stone. Written in stone.

Her birth date and place.

And her death date and place.

And, btw just a side bar - my Aunt had a hell of a time trying to get the folks in Waxahachie to put the Nee part in. (And no, I don't know how to put that damn accent thing in)

I leaned closer, and I saw  ants. GRRRR. So, I took my hand and started to sweep them away- wrong move.
The ants came out in full force, and called for back up - they had a precision like Military Force to fight any unwanted interlopers like myself.

I started to think, I can't kill them! I mean, this is their home! Where the hell have I been for all these years?  Obviously I didn't care, otherwise I would have been here maintaing the site.  I was like a Donald Trump real estate developer coming in and they were the squatters who had been there for years and lived through the leaky roofs, the no plumbing and no heat, and here I come ready to kill them all in a blink of an eye.

And, then I thought, But this is my Mom! You cannot crawl over my Mother! And I went back and forth. Until...

My Aunt suggested I get the groundskeeper to take care of the situation- I was planning on using Diet Coke - I figured if it eats our insides, it's gotta be able to kill them.

The groundskeeper returned gasoline in hand- this was serious business.

Here is my Aunt overseeing the pre- murdering spree:

Now with the killing spree at an end, it was time to plant the flowers

The grave site is jacked up unfortunately - it has dinks, dents, scratches.  My Aunt said it's from the lawn mowers and had a word with the grounds keeper. I gave him some money and asked him to look after Mom and the flowers.

Here is a closer shot of the pink flowers.
(which in my original fantasy are French Tulips  or Roses - no red and no long stem just a tight bunch of gorgeous fragrant roses. A lot of them)

But before all was said and done, I had to write a note to the "re-gifters" out there:

I know, elegant.

Before I left, I washed the gravesite to the best of my ability. I didn't say much, as the ants had given me a great distraction - thankfully.  I knew that if I looked at my Aunt for longer than 2 seconds, it was going to be all over and I would be blubbering. I didn't want to, I didn't want my Aunt to "go there" This was all a lot for her with no notice. 

Instead, I said hello, and I said goodbye. And as I turned to walk away, I said  I love you Mom with a wave. 

And don't think for a second that the grounds keeper's shovel wasn't in my sight line the whole time. I still thought about digging her up and running off with her.

Maybe next time. 

1 comment:

  1. even though this time sounds very emotional, it also sounds like it was the right time for you to be in texas. i don't think it's about closure...but more about finally feeling it all. sending you a hug. can't imagine how strong you're going to be by the time you get here...xx