Post-Funeral

The week was framed by death of parents, starting with a funeral on Monday. Friday I stopped by the home of a colleague of L's. Her mother had died; the service was private, but her home was open for what we call "shiva," but others might call an open house. She and her partner are Jewish, and they have adopted and raised two African-Americans. The parents are white. I mention race because the daughter came in later than expected that afternoon. She had been stopped by the police. It may have been a case of DWB, driving while black. She said the cops told her that she resembled an accused murderer. They asked about her last name, saying, That's not a black name. She explained that she was adopted. They brought her in and another cop said she didn't look like the suspect they were looking for. I suppose she can't sue for false arrest because she wasn't arrested. Perhaps for police harassment? Her parents are activists, the type who would know how to pursue such things, if they were inclined. What business is it of a police officer whether someone's last name "matches" her race?

I have a memorial service on Tuesday, for the parent of another colleague's of L's.

A month or so a student gave me a bouquet for helping him with his thesis. One stem of orchids has survived all this time, two fuchsia-and-white dendrobia at the bottom, and buds on the top. My mother-in-law told me that if you spray the buds with water they'll blossom. I tried it and it's true. The top ones have opened. Now, I hate when people make analogies between Nature and Life, but here I am about to do it myself: The bottom flowers are like an earlier generation. By the time they die out, the new flowers are out and they have no knowlege or relationship (OK, add anthropomorphizing to my list of sins) to the older flowers, so they are not saddened by their demise. OK, this is the way I've thought of it: Ashkenazi Jews name their babies after relatives who have already died. I'm named for my grandfather. I feel no sadness at his death, because it preceeded me. I remember once in grade school trying not to laugh at something, biting the insides of my cheeks and trying to think of something sad: the death of my grandfather. But it wasn't sad because I hadn't experienced the loss. That is my simple point. And you turn the loss into a gain when you use the name for a new person. Turning sadness to joy. I should see birth as a wondrous thing but all I see when I look at an infant is a lot of trouble. Time, trouble, sleepless nights. That's why I don't have children. And someday my name will go to a relative who isn't here yet. A child named Cancer Bitch.

No comments: