in new orleans people are buried above ground since the marsh land saturates pretty easily and one simple storm is enough to seriously upset the folks who visit the dearly departed. i dont know if this is the same reason we have open air mausoleums in ecuador or if its just cuz its more economical.
as a boy, my grandma on my moms side lived pretty close to the main cemetery which is this central hillside that i always saw the cranes and construction crew ripping into. when i returned to the homeland a constant question was- ‘when are you going to visit your mother?’ and by this everyone meant when are you going to stop by her grave. being 20, american and not knowin’ no bettah, i would say- “i’m not” and leave it at that.
‘oh, but you HAVE to see her’ well, i dont have to do sheet, was my mindset and the more i was pushed to visit the remains of my mom the more stubborn i got. it finally took my aunt who cut through everyone else’s righteous shit about what is and what is not a proper way to honor your memeories and finally asked me if i was ready to make the trip. i told her stright up- i don’t know and i don’t want to find out when i get there that i’m not. i left out the part about it being one of the places on the planet that i had a full breakdown at and that for some odd reason i wasnt sure if i wanted to revisit it. the funny thing about grieving is that it’s always more about the other people than the main person. a wake is for the living and the dead really have no say in it. you can only let folks know while you are still here what it is that you want and then from there- hope your aunts dont fuck it up and that your uncles dont dumb it down.
oh yeah- one of the other reasons i didnt want to go- ‘you have to see how nice they fixed it up’
instead of gravestones, in ecua you can get these real ornate plaques, marble, clear plastic, flowers, pictures, an electric light to mimic the eternal flame, la virgen– like much things latino- it can seriously border on the gauche. my last physical memory of my mom is seeing them puch in her coffin and then some serrano (our version of a hillbilly) placing the concrete sqaure with her details over and then the dark grey cement being layered on the sides. he tried to do a neat job but it’s a task that needs to be done quick so there was splatters of cement all around and it still looked a little like that when i last saw it at 13. then, i had no choice in the matter- ‘you are going to see your mother’ and i’m like- “that aint my mother, thats a whole in the side of a mall and thats that” of course, i only said this to myself in order to avoid the smack.
now here i am, marching like some tourist going to see the eifel tower or the place where the twin towers used to be and all those who dont know better stand and pretend that they are still there. the new plaque was nice. simple marble and gold lettering with all the details in place but i cant tell you waht it says. i dont know if it mentions me and my sister or any of that stuff they like to put. the day was at least bright and my mom is on the last level of a three level mausoleum which means the sun up there is real nice. the cranes where still working when i got there. i bought some flowers and left em there even though i (and everybody else) knows that they will be stolen later and resold at the front.
i left em on a friday to be stolen on a saturday- is how i put it once
there is no time frame for dealing with things like this, today is as good a day as any to look back and tomorrow i will still feel the same way, i’m afraid. i havent spoken to my moms in a while and maybe today is a good day for that.