Tending the garden…

April come she will.  And with it?  Memories of Dad.  He died in April, 2002. 

In the final month, when it became increasingly apparent that Dad’s body was rigging the white flag, Mom and i would gently sideswipe the subject of funeral arrangements.  One particularly difficult issue was “pall bearers”.  Traditionally, this is a gruesome task assigned to sons-in-law, close friends, strapping grandsons.  And as we did the math?  Not likely to be easy given our family demographics.

We had EJ and JK, my husband and my sister, S’s husband.  There was my niece, DQ’s first husband, LC, as well – Dad often said he considered him as a son.  So that cleaned out the “son-in-law” repository.  Digging deep, we tapped a guy from DQ’s extended family – who always spent time bullshitting with Dad at large family gatherings.  Four.  A start.

Granted, this wasn’t the most pressing issue at hand, but more of a subject that was chugging about in our brains in the background, only to pop up when primary processing power was momentarily freed up from the bigger issues.  It was through one of these random moments that someone had the clever idea of asking a neighbor – who had been a friend of Dad’s – when the time came.  Although he’d broken his back in a fall several years before, he seemed healthy enough for the job.  Five.

Making this process a little harder was the matter of physics.  Now, we are not a family of “wasting away” people.  Even after three and a half years of chemotherapy?  Dad still weighed 260 pounds.  Big Sicilian bones…  We needed some muscle, which ruled out dragging my son or his cousin – then about 13 years old – off the bench.  Want to traumatize a kid for life?  Put him in a position of dropping his grandfather’s casket… 

At the time, my sister, T, had been seeing her partner, MLG, for about 3 years.  MLG was a smokin’ hot hardbodied blonde from Paris, working on her PhD in English Literature.  In one of our late night, alcohol-fueled family conferences, T mentioned MLG…

And so it went.  Dad was planted in the earth by two sons-in-law, a grandson-in-law, two friends, and a five foot tall French lesbian.  Without a doubt, i’m thinking he would have been pretty cool with that…