DECEMBER 31, 2020
I dress up. After all, I invented the event. I am the grandmother. Actually, the grande dame.
What shall I wear. I think of white and lace. High collar. I don’t want to look like a bride. This is not a wedding. But it is not a funeral. Well, it is sort of a funeral. A joyous funeral.
Not the kind of funeral that people who don’t want to talk about death, prefer instead to call a memorial, or even a celebration of the life of their beloved.
The difference between today's event and both sad funerals and celebratory memorials, is that those gathered at the latter cherished the departed.
This event is not a funeral nor a memorial for anyone whom anyone will even pretend to mourn. No one is going to have to try to think of something good to say about someone they didn’t know, but felt obligated to show up to sign the guest book, be seen, be counted as having cared enough to come.
I pause again. Who will peruse the guest book to see who didn’t show up to counted and who did. I do want to know who showed up to be counted, but I’m not whom they showed up to be counted by. Who is it with whom those who show up to be counted want to be counted by? I’m offering as a sociological hypothesis here: They want to be counted by everyone else who showed up. By the community, to which everyone who shows up belongs, in which everyone who shows up is the equal of everyone else who showed up to be counted: Presente! Salute, raise fist, embrace, hug and kiss. For some it is the community. For others, like politicians, it is one of their many communities, which need not overlap.
The point is that the event is a ritualized observation of a death, or at the very least, of the certain irreversible fact that the patient will not recover ever. They may however remain comatose and regardless of expense, scientific advances may keep the heart pumping, feeding tube filled with sugar, colonoscopy bag emptied and perfumed. You know, of course, the house in Jonesboro, outside Atlanta, and its replica on St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans were built decades after the Civil War, after click here.