Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Message from Death (An Epoch)
When Grandfather died, back in 1974, at eighty-three years old, mother spoke: well, inferred when she spoke—what was for the most part—her first reaction because what she said was probably involuntary, because if she had taken time to think, she might not have said it: “Well it’s over with,” meaning the funeral and wake, but I took it as an era, and she was the next, and of course the third era of our family history in America would be me, and the forth my sons.
With grandpa there was a funeral, a hearse, and casket, pallbearers, buried at the
Cemetery at ,
a World War One Veteran. That’s how it was. Fort Snelling
And now with another death in the family, July 2003, we all would be moved too, regretfully, because she, my mother was friends to all my uncles, and aunts, and cousins, and blood-descendents, a lugubrious dirge to death for me.
My brother wanted flowers, I wanted an urn, he wanted to throw her ashes into the river (like he’d request for himself in due time), I thought that was too pagan like, so I’d take the urn, bury her proper later. We causality looked at the dollar and cents of it, as if we were paying for it, she paid for all of her funeral expenses out of her monthly dividends, that is, her Social Security check paid for it, to be cooked to dry blood and shapeless pulp to a fine grain of dust, put into a bag inside a wooden urn, better than the river though, and as she wished it.
I became disassociated, not only from the funeral but even from her death. There were I was told, relatives asking for me at the funeral, liken to sentinel guards. I didn’t need to be reminded what had happened, I was there when she went into a coma for three days, and then into the airless dark, bareheaded and bowed I stood feeling the last warmth of her blood that flowed through her resting arm on the soft hospital bed, she had been dead, going on three hours, I didn’t seem them relatives there.
Her departure in a small way was done with a dignity equal with the dignity of my Grandfather’s, different yes, but dignity nonetheless, even with her sepulture.
It would seem in time—and I’ll explain that in a moment—an envoy from…who knows where, a messenger from Death itself, came, paused, said: “Mortal, remember me?” And thus, like grandpa, like his era having diminished, it was time for a new one to start, the new era, was in the process now of decline, the un-dead, those uncles and aunts, those who saw death, knew it was nearer today than yesterday paused to listen to Death’s message, and now it would commence, brief, wordless, those in murmurs, whispers, shock, privacy, they all knew the Messenger from Death was around the corner.
Uncle George and Paul had already died in the 1990s, but no one heard the knocking on the door until mother died, because then Aunt Rose died, and Uncle Wally died, and Uncle Chris died, and Aunt Ann died. Right in a row, one after the other, more wreaths and flowers arriving. It dominated a half decade if not longer. Notification after notification—regretfully; that was the way it happened, as if after a death in the family, perhaps the strongest of the family, they all obeyed, not a superstition, but a rite, to follow the strongest. This was the freedom to move from one world to another using death as its moment to action. So it appeared.
Now it is a new era, well kind of, there are sill two left in the old era, and so far one has died in my era—at sixty four years old he died, and that was two years ago, and I’m sixty-five, and guess what, if things go as normal like, the Messenger from Death will be visiting us once more—pretty soon perhaps, who’s to say: he is becoming a kind of decorous celerity with me, and when he acts, brisk indeed he can be. Who will be next? I suppose we’re all kind of watching.
My brother says: He’ll live to be one-hundred! No hearse for awhile. I on the other hand, feel lucky to be alive today, I’ve beat a lot of odds, some might say, misfortune turned into fortune. I like my mother don’t care if I’m dust and put into a urn, or put into a coffin, and laid among the stone angels of mercy and winged seraphim and shepherds in the cemetery, a Baptist-Catholic I am, and let my body rest wherever, but not into the river; I only care how I die, in dignity, with a good name. Dead means dead weight and mass is not measured in the next world, bones are useless there also, I shall bloom again, bloom with a new body and with the old soul, my tome of life, let it say: he did the best he could with what he had, in Christ’s will, and I know it was not always in Christ’s will but I do hope by that time it will be.
My Epitaph (DLS)