There were so many things I wanted to say. My brother Lance and his wife Marie were seated with Rose-Marie by the blue damask casket. Lance's sons, friends and in-laws stood behind. I had so much I wanted to tell them about our mother, Nancy King Lillian, for whom we were performing a last service this cold day in February at the little cemetery on Grand Island, New York. So many memories ...
Some memories had their patina of pain -- reminders of the long obscenity of Alzheimer's and the ordeal it represented to my brother and sister-in-law. They lived near my mother and their suffering was horrible and their endurance, heroic. And one doesn't butt heads for a lifetime with an alpha woman like my mother without the occasional bruise. But we have choices in life, and one is to insist on joy, and the moments that came to mind there and then were just that: joyous.
Such as when L.E. and Marie told Mama that she was going to be a grandmother -- and all she could do was giggle. Such as the day I found I'd passed the Bar, and called Mama at my grandmother's place in California.-- sadistically, drawing out the news for as long as she could stand it. I was rewarded by the sound of both Mama and my grandmother bawling happily on the other end of the line. Such as when I was 7 years old and sat outside of my brother's nursery, listening to her rock him to sleep, singing "Bye Baby Bunting" over and over again -- the happiest human sound I've ever heard.
But this cold day in February was really cold, and some of the folks were of Mama's age -- early 80s. As I spoke I saw Lance brush a tear away - and make "hurry up" motions with his hand. So I simply mentioned the stop Rosy and I made on our way north, at Gregory, the tiny cotton town in Arkansas where Mama was born, and the long world-spanning road she traveled afterwards with the man she would soon rest beside. One memory I did share was all about them.
It was of a time when my father and I went to the New Orleans airport to meet Mama as she flew in from California. Dad stood in the concourse, six-foot-four, long-limbed and lanky, greeting his "Nen" with a raised eyebrow as she scampered up, smiling. It did me good to see the affection Lance and I came from, and it did me good to recall it that cold February morning on Grand Island. All was well. My folks were together again, now and forever, "and not just in this cold ground."
Not enough, but ... you can't say enough, can you?