We're back in Houston.
Conflicted, because of the weather, inside and outside, we rail against one another, trying to balance the weight of loss with the dream of loss.
It's hard all over.
All over, it's hard.
It's all overhard,
I could leave my feelings like that, all short, terse, oblique and resonant.
Or, I could expound (v.), expose (v.), exposition (v.).
Or, I could keep the energy wound up, coiled in my brain like a snake, swooning into a pounce.
My father died of an aneurysm. And a stroke. He died at 71 years old. 1000 people attended his funeral. The service consisted of a high mass, in the Mexican/Anglo spirit of the place. Mariachis provided the music liturgy, readings were chosen with care (I read the first reading from the Book of Job). Father Art's homily and Tony Moiso (current head of the family that bought the rancho from my family) eulogizing my father captured the girth of Tony's spirit, shared that spirit with all who were there. Truly the attendees formed a pageant of meaningful people from my father's life. It was a celebration of him and the of way he lived.
He was truly, without a doubt, the life of the party.
The California Highway Patrol closed the Ortega Hywy Exit on Interstate 5 for the funeral procession from the Mission Basilica in San Juan Capistrano to the old cemetery, where my father's ashes were buried between his mother and father's graves. The sun was bright. The sky was blue. It was the perfect California day: warm in the sun (almost hot), cool in the shade. With a breeze in the shade, one would be almost cold. After the graveside service, we walked down the hill with our children and extended family and with friends, walking back through town to the mission, or finding our pre-parked cars in one of the “shopping centers” at the bottom of the hill. My mother parked her Toyota Camry in the handicapped spot next to the old Forster Mansion. David and I sat and waited with Clara and Diego for 30 minutes, hoping to finally see my mom walking down the cemetery hill to open the car for us so that we could get going to the fiesta.
Following the funeral was the fiesta out Ortega Highway at Las Amantes Ranch, one of my father's favorite spots on the old Rancho Mission Viejo. Mariachis greeted the guests; picnic tables were dressed with table clothes and covered with shady tents. The beer truck, liquor wagon and Margarita stands served libations constantly and tirelessly. I had half a Margarita. I took two sips of it, set it down and came back to an empty cup. I couldn't eat any of the food because of my dietary restrictions; I drank a lot of water, and it felt like I was swimming in condolences. By the end of the day, I had a headache the size of Iowa.
Nevertheless, I appreciated everyone who came out to say goodbye to Tony and to share this loss with our family.
My father is proud of and grateful to his community. His family is, too.