Sep. 8th, 2008

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My father loved George Harrison. No, it was beyond that, but I don't know the right word. "Idolized" doesn't feel right. But George inspired my dad musically and spiritually, and their lives had many parallels. And it was one area where I knew I could reach him. For what ended up being his last birthday, I'd bought him George's final album Brainwashed, which he loved. The night he died, I ran out and bought a copy of All Things Must Pass. I thought maybe it would be a comfort for him to hear it.

So the other morning I was up early. I drove Wendy to work and then, on the drive home, "All Things Must Pass" came on the radio. At that moment I was driving by the cemetery where my father was buried. So I thought--well, that's odd. Perhaps I should go say hello.

I pulled off the highway, down the frontage road and through the old iron gates. Past the unbearably sick-smelling mausoleum where my grandfather sits uneasy on a shelf, and past the long dead, the strange and ancient headstones out of a Hammer horror film, to the new section. My father's buried in a grassy field, a field that's mostly empty, still waiting patiently for its happily oblivious future residents.

I parked in the usual spot and walked to the usual place in the usual way, triangulating by that big bench-headstone over there and that huge marble orb on the north.

And he wasn't there.

I mean, what I mean to say is, his headstone, anyway, was gone. I walked around that field a dozen times, front to back and side to side. He wasn't there. Just grass in the place where he should have been. A sensible girl would have gone to the office and asked if he'd left a forwarding address. I was too bewildered to think of it, too unsure of myself despite the comical thoroughness of my search. My aunt had mentioned, a few weeks ago, that his headstone had water stains, but when I called her--and brother, did I call her--she knew nothing about it being removed or replaced.

I checked on another couple of relatives--who knows, could be plan 9?--but they were fine. Poorly tended, but fine. I scraped off the layers of leaves and pine needles and crabgrass and dirt, paid my respects and went on my way. A lot of my family is buried out there. I don't expect I'll ever be one of them. When my dad got sick, his sister/my aunt was diagnosed with cancer almost at the exact same time. Ever the optimist, my grandmother immediately decided to buy funeral plots for everyone in the family so they could all be together, so she bought my dad one, and my aunt, and my aunt's three children. Everyone in her family. Pointedly omitting yours truly. The first and hopefully the last time I will ever have my heart broken by somebody not buying me a grave.

The stupid things I get upset about. I'd rather be eaten by a chupacabra than have to spend eternity in Phoenix, anyway. Maybe my dad felt the same way? One more tour? I don't know. Maybe that Javert-wannabe cop who hounded him till the day he died over petty and meaningless drug charges had him incarcerated post-mortem. But I hope not. I hope he and George are up there playing dueling sitars on cloud nine. Or something vastly better and impossible to conceive.


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August 2009

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