Wednesday, September 1, 2010

To Think Of Him And Smile

Today marks the start of Fall; right? I know here in the State of Concrete Gardens it is expected to be north of 90 degrees again today. I am aware as well that a number of employees (both public and private) will have Monday off in observance of Labor Day - and a number of their number will begin their long weekend on Friday.....whether being paid to be at their job or not. Yet there is never a time of year when summer feels further away to me - more out of reach if you will than it does when August cedes the stage to September.

This summer's unofficial end serves as the stage for a very unhappy, official piece of business in Margaret's family. Today shall be the wake for her uncle, Uncle Junior. Junior died on Sunday afternoon at age 78. Far too often in the past several years I have made the trip to the Branchburg Funeral Home to pay my respects to a loved one. The folks who run the Funeral Home are exceptionally nice people and have apparently known Margaret and her family for a moment or two short of forever. Yet they too have shown signs of emotional fatigue due to the inordinate number of funerals they have arranged and over which they have provided for Margaret's family these past few years. Being an undertaker is a tough gig. You look forward to seeing your family and friends all the while knowing that the last time you see any of them, they will not in fact be seeing you. It is a business to be sure but there is an emotional investment as well.

The emotional investment is made by all of us I suppose. I am a dreadfully poor mourner. Other than anger, which I think I have over time (and thanks in no small part to a dramatic reduction in my liquor intake) I have done a fairly good job of keeping in check, I am not outwardly emotional. Especially when the emotion of the day is sorrow or sadness. I tend to channel mine inward. Today and tomorrow are both going to be days that are a combination of beauty and profound grief. Dry eyes will be in short supply, which underscores to me the importance of remaining a port in the storm. Absence of tears on the face of one sometimes at a wake or at a funeral serves as a beach head for another.

Today and tomorrow shall indeed be a brutal pair of days back to back. This is not necessarily the approach of choice for the commencement of Autumnal activities. An appropriate way to say goodbye to summer perhaps? Most assuredly an entirely appropriate way to say goodbye to Junior. A man who always gave his best and deserved better than the lousy hand he was dealt for his last game at the table.

Summer is gone and to a degree Junior is as well. But then again he is not. He remains where he has been forever - in his Annie's heart, close to her and with her always....

....tied to her like the buttons on her blouse.

-AK

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