grave misgivings

Did I ever tell you about the time I buried a lady?

No? Oh, okay:

At the time, I was living with my then-partner (let’s call him L) in his hometown. When his grandmother died peacefully, L’s mother wasted no time sorting out the arrangements, as they are so decorously called. She booked the service and visiting hours, found the grave plot, arranged for the cremation, and — ever the frugal soul — persuaded the cemetery sexton to forego the gravedigging excavation fee by arranging for her brother to dig it with his backhoe.

But, see, her brother lived a few towns over. With his backhoe.

A few towns is a long way to go on a backhoe, I reckon.

He kept not coming over to dig that grave hole. Day after day, he didn’t dig that grave hole. And she fretted over it.

After a few days of this, I asked her “Exactly how big does this, uh, hole need to be?”
She pulled out the notes from the sexton. “A few feet deep, and a few feet across. Big enough to fit the cracker box.”

The wuh?

Grammy’s ashes were in a saltine tin. Perfect.

L and I exchanged glances, threw two shovels in the trunk of the car, and grabbed the gardening gloves from the garage. “You be sure to call the cemetery guy, let him know we’re coming,” I urged his mother before we left.

Digging that grave hole took a little longer than we expected, but it was a sunny day and a peaceful one. We had quite a cheerful afternoon, digging and resting, digging and resting. We chatted freely. No one at the cemetery did more than raise an eyebrow, though (we found out later) his mother never had called to alert them.

[The interment was private. I won’t discuss it here.]

Only as we backfilled the grave hole did it occur to me: You’re burying his Grammy. Jeez. He and I eventually split up, and with no malice at all I can say I am profoundly glad that we did. (And I imagine he is, too.) But… I helped him bury his Grammy. It still feels like a… a link, you know?

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