17 years ago today, you left this plane, and 16 years ago on this date, your ashes found a final resting place at Lago de Zirahuén. Well, half of them did.
Remember that silver cigarette box you’d swiped from me the fall before you died? We filled it with your ashes, and what that wouldn’t hold went into a satin pouch. I took the cigarette box down to the lake. As I was negotiating the price of a launch, I broke down in tears, two bystanders immediately caught on to my plans, intervened with the boatman, and they ended up joining me as we headed toward Agua Verde. Damned if we couldn’t open up that box, which the heat of your ashes and scotch tape had hermetically sealed, and even though the thought did enter my mind to toss the entire box into the lake, I just couldn’t do that. The boatman offered up a knife, and we freed your ashes to the water. The male half of the couple, who turned out to be a photography professor in the D.F., captured it all on film, and his female companion said some prayers. Ashes blew in our faces.
GraceSlick would go on to remind me that you might’ve liked spending the rest of eternity in the Hill Country, but I kept on dodging the bullet. Finally, a year or so later, I confessed to her what I’d done, bracing myself for reprisals. She responded like you would’ve, saying “That’s a relief, one more thing I don’t have to deal with.” I told her that there were still ashes left in the satin pouch. A year or so after that, she joined me in scattering the rest of you at the lake.
During the summer before you died, you’d bought a tract of land in Zirahuén, planning to build yourself a house there. It seemed only natural that you would end up there.
You were always a prom queen, a professional dancer, artist, gypsy and free spirit. Only the latter two qualities did you pass on to me.
You insisted that I finish law school. And when I did, you told me that I owed you two years in private practice.
I can still hear your voice saying “You’re wearing that?” and “Why don’t you do something with your hair?”
And I also hear your voice of encouragement, giving me permission to do wild and crazy things, not caring a whit about what others may think.
I remember how you stood up for me in school in my never-ending battles with the dress code.
I was the first in the family to light up a joint in front of you, right in the downstairs family room in 1972. The next morning you asked “Was that really marijuana you were smoking?” I told you it sure was. You didn’t blink.
GraceSlick and I thought you were a little crazy about that vegetable gardening thing. We’ve since learned why, and now we both grow our own vegetables. More than a few times, I’ve considered getting some chickens, but I’ve wisely elected not to follow your example.
The horseradish that Rocky Stoneburner gave you still persists, planted under the magnolia tree. I’ve given it away to everyone I could, but frankly, that stuff is a plague.
The blackberries are flourishing.
We tried to make marmalade out of the Seville oranges that you planted, but the project was just too much, so we cast that aside. We never liked marmalade anyway. But you’ll be happy to know that I’ve put sour orange juice to good use in making cochinita pibil and aguas frescas.
The pomegranates are absolutely incredible. The two old trees have propagated three more, and all are in production.
You were as old as I am now when you learned how to fly a plane. You were even older when you decided to pack up and move to Mexico.
Even though moving abroad was always my plan, you made it materialize. You made me pick up the phone book and cold-call an English-speaking lawyer in Morelia one Christmas holiday, and before the season was finished, you’d bought a run-down lot, saying it had potential. It turned out to be a good decision.
You said that the area between Santa Maria de Guido and Jesus del Monte had real potential, and that was before the road linking the two was even paved. You’d be patting yourself on the back for that foresight if you could see where the Nuevo Morelia in Altozano has situated itself.
I’m only halfway through cleaning out your closets. I expect to finish that task by 2020. No one can wear your 8 AAAA Ferragamos, so they remain until I can figure out a use for them. Only last year did I notice that you’d worn my pair of The Most Beautiful Shoes in the World instead of your own, which naturally were too small for you. That’s okay, because I really never had the opportunity to wear those shoes anyway.
What do you want me to do with your mink hat? No one seems to want it. Your fur coats are still in the closet waiting for a good use.
Candles and incense glow for you today.
Thank you, Mother. (See, I remembered that you preferred to be called “Mother” instead of what others called theirs.)