Rest, Weary Bones, Find Your Solace
"One of my sisters died," I tell him, and wonder why. "Not your aunt, but one of my half sisters. I don't think I told you about them." I found Facebook profiles of them just after Christmas, driven by that timeless genealogical urge that made millionaires of three ring binder builders, set countless photobugs upon the tiny cemeteries that sit just beyond the treelines rimming our nation's highway system. She died in a fire, in Waco, with two of her children. She was 27.
It feels like we're decommissioning a lesser tree in the arbor, reading the clues left in memoriam. Say hello to your mother. We miss you. I remember her mother, having seen her one time when I was 5 or 6. I remember her towering inferno of control over me, and thinking that there was no way this woman wouldn't strike back when struck. It seems she died, too, years ago, though no mention is made of my father. So that dead end goes deader.
They all seem so poor. The fire was in a small mobile home, and the Facebook page asks for money. I want to send something, but who am I in this. For the past 10 years, there is no one more easily found on the internet than me, so there is the answer. And then there, oh yes, look, there. Another click and a kind of end to whatever search I might have fancied. His death notice. He really died. He died last year, 59 years old. It doesn't say where he's buried or the wherefores of his last breath.
This is what feels like being robbed. I wanted to read an honest to god obituary for the old man. That part where it says, 'he is survived in life by his children, these are their names.' I wanted to see my name just that one time in acknowledgment. Not in affection or regret, just matter of fact details of blood and lineage. It feels like the comical end to a break-up. Fine, then leave! I will! Good, do it! I am! And don't ever come back! I won't!
A week later you are still staring at the contrails of his footfalls through the breezeway. My god, the son of bitch really meant it. 30 years later, I am almost impressed. Wow, when this guy walked out, he wasn't fucking around. You have to admire that level of commitment. The old man point of fact simply erased the memory of a son he'd had, his first. Balls.
It becomes apparent that these girls were left nothing, themselves. Reading the news reports, there are no names from my clan, none of the uncles, none of the cousins, none of the relatives I remember. Every hint of my genesis gone exodus. The poor things, I think, wondering if I am saying all of this out loud to my son as I watch him do his homework. The poor thing, I think. Her obituary comes out tomorrow or the next day. She has a half brother she never met looking out for it thousands of miles away, looking out for a name they shared. Poor thing, I think. This isn't how these things should end.