Last Sunday, Father’s Day, I was grading essays in my office. The sun was fading outside, and I thought I’d take a walk while there was still some light.
I drove just outside of town and took a left into what I thought was the open desert. I had actually turned too soon, and the narrow road led me to our small, local cemetery. I had been here before. It was a good place. The last time I was here I saw a group of road runners (a bevy?).
I got out of my car and walked. I found a grave, “Joe Garcia, 1928-2006." On the same stone was etched “Beloved Wife, Etta Garcia 1933- ”
In the distance I watched a woman bowing over a gravesite. By the time I got closer, she had turned and recognized me. “I thought that was you,” she said. I recognized her, a friend. I hadn't expected this. “My father,” she said, indicating the grave she had just left. “Twelve years, it’s been.”
She pointed up to the front of the cemetary, near the entrance. "I came with my friend." I squinted and could see a large man on his hands and knees. "He just lost his little brother two weeks ago."
I nodded. What can you say?
“I come here sometimes,” I said. “I mean, my father’s alive, but…”
We parted, and further down the road I saw a very pretty young woman standing with her feet wide, just standing. Very still. She had a tattoo that ran up her left calf.
I walked to the end of the center path, paused in a flower garden, and turned around.
As I neared my car, the pretty young woman called to me.
“Hi!” she said.
A former student. How did I miss that?
She was with her mother, a very old lady with jet-black hair.
“We’re just here visiting Dad and Grandpa,” she said.
Her mother made her way slowly to their car and opened the passenger door. We talked briefly, my former student and I, about school, about the classes she was taking in the fall, about her plans for the future.
This week in class we read Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery.” Also, “Embalming Mr. Jones.”
Readers! Can it be that we will all die some day?
Gather Ye Coy Mistresses While Ye May!
Make your scratch on anonymity.