Spent holiday break driving my mother to my grandmother's grave. She had to miss the funeral, but wanted to pay respects. Fort Worth-Dallas National Cemetary. The coldest day I have ever spent in Texas.
The second world war veterans can put their wives names on the back of their headstones, and have those remains interred above them. Standing in one direction, it looks like a cemetery of all men. The women all have to look the other way. We were in the back this time around. With the women and the blank stones.
It was bitter cold. Truly the most sickening cold I have ever felt. I could not sleep the night before we went, and I was coughing and shaking and leaking out my nose. There was no way to do it right, to make it alright for her. My whole life, she talked to my grandmother every day on the phone, for almost an hour every day. My grandmother was 16 when she got married, 17 when she had my mother. 96 when she passed. The first three years of her life my mother called her grandmother by her first name, like a sister. Until he came home from WWII and insisted on the traditional forms.
I bought a big pink blanket to wrap my mother in, because she had not brought a coat. I do not know why pink. Except that in the flurry of a big name grocery store it seemed like the kindest one. We brought roses, red and yellow and white and pink. I lay a red one on my grandfather's grave. He killed my mother's pet rabbit and cooked it for dinner when my mom was little, told her when they were halfway done. A story I couldn't believe the first time she told me. But since, with more stories, I have come to understand. We put the rest of the roses with my grandmother. Or at least by her name, or at least her first name, over his last one. Behind his headstone.
I went back to the house with my father's relative, made sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, washed dishes. Played Uno. I cried every day on this trip but made sure she never saw. Back here, in my neat little house in California, I suddenly feel unsure what I am for. I have put my own last name on the front of something, that is a privilege for sure.