Diana’s memorial service.
The seats were all filled over on the left where the knitters I knew were. There were several empty ones on the back row on the right, and I sat down at the end there, ready to scoot over as needed. There seemed to be a lot of family there and they should always have the best seats.
He was about Parker’s age (Parker is in kindergarten) and he came in with his daddy and they sat down two rows straight ahead of me before the service started.
The father was a young vet, by all appearances, and he walked with a beautiful wooden walking stick. I glanced down at my own wooden cane by my feet and then quickly to his and his eyes in that way that you do with a smile in solidarity when you see someone else who’s been there, gotten used to that. When that’s the way it is now, having a nice one makes it easier. (I knew how tight that room could get with a crowd, had seen the number of cars in the parking lot, and the fact that it was going to pour shortly–I’d left the walker in the car and made do.)
Since I wasn’t interrupting anything yet, I reached into my purse and thought, hmm, not that…ah, that one. Perfect. We’ll call it a California condor, even if it was knitted in Peru. I offered it to the dad and both he and his little boy turned and said thank you.
As the music and speakers began, the little boy played quietly with it rather than in grand sweeping motions: he had been well and lovingly coached in what was expected of him at his great aunt’s funeral–and he really liked that condor.
At some point they got up for a minute, and before they returned one of their two seats was taken; there was still an empty one there at the back, though, and the dad had his little boy come sit down by me. Where he again was very quiet for a very long time, his daddy beaming behind him at his adorable little boy.
My impression was that it was easier on the dad’s body to be standing than sitting.
But at last Justin, if I heard his name right, looked up at me and with big questioning eyes said something to me that I had no way to know what it was.
I had my hearing aids cranked up. Nope. I told him the condor was for him to have, and that made him happy, but something else was still on his mind. I tried whispering back the ever-helpful, I’m sorry but I can’t hear, while pulling a hearing aid out to show him, but he didn’t yet have enough life experience to understand what that really meant. I did catch the eye, though, of the young girl of about ten on the other side of him and tried to convey the thought of, would you mind helping us out a little bit?
Covering for a deaf grownup’s shortcomings wasn’t her specialty yet, either. She gave me a friendly smile but had no idea what to do.
He whispered something else and I whispered back, I don’t know.
Oh okay and he turned to her.
What he’d wanted, it turned out, was a bathroom. And I was one of the very few people in that room who actually knew where it was. Oops. Diana’s brother who’d set up the venue was a Mormon but my understanding is that he lives nowhere near California and we were at The Annex, a stately old reception hall that had come with the property when the Mormon Church had bought it to build a chapel on the lawn in 1950 or so. My son’s wedding reception had been held there. I knew the place. I also knew you had to climb some semi-hidden stairs to the far right over thataway as if you were going to go up into an attic–it is not intuitive.
That all got taken care of, the speakers got done speaking, the final song was sung and the closing prayer was offered.
And then Justin stood in front of me, wanting to ask one more thing. (And he didn’t have to whisper anymore.) He had seen that I had more finger puppets in my purse: what were they all for?
I have grandchildren, I answered, wishing I could swoop him into a hug as if he were one, too. Such a sweet child.
He asked, in wonderment, Are they all for them?
(And I realized I had just restocked so I probably had several dozen in there. The finger puppets are small and light, the purse is big, things easily disappear into the depths, so, the more the easier in there.) I said, Well, sometimes like when I’m at the grocery store or at the doctor’s office I’ll see a little kid who is unhappy or crying. And I give them one and then they’re happy!
Oh! he said, patting his condor he’d tucked into the little pocket on his white shirt, its head peeking out at the world. He was going to make sure that if he saw any little kids who needed to be happy he’d take care of them.
He did not ask me for more. He was willing to share his.
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