I Ended the Story Too Early
Gracie Stories, part 5
I ended the story too early. I left Gracie out on the front porch with her breakfast, got dressed for a funeral and then a teaching on Passover for eighth graders, and left her on the front enclosed porch while I prepared breakfast for the inside patient and an excellent mixed Arabica and Robusta bean espresso with just right amount of lactaid-free milk [not to overwhelm] in my Italiano manual espresso maker that Starbuck’s once stuck its moniker on but withdrew it when no one wanted to bother to learn how to manage the true espresso. I stole it off Ebay.
On my way out the door to the funeral, Gracie had eliminated on the front porch, terrazzo tiles, and walked all over it so I cleaned it up in my Milanese suit and washed the porch with the hose, cleaned myself up the best I could and went to the funeral where I gave a eulogy for a man who lived much of his life in a State Hospital until one Republican governor of my state decided that such people would be better served on the streets of our beloved cities.
His father had left him some money and in the last ten years he had finally settled into a group home where — because his Dad had left him a few bucks — he lived the best life, well, that he could.
We live the life we have, not someone else’s life. His life was not like my life, probably not much like your life, or if it was like your life, then you probably would have understood him a lot better, had more empathy for him, than generally the culture we live in has these days.
We live in a country of great sophistication who treat people who do not fit into the common ways of living – shameful, shameful. Sometimes I am ashamed to be an American.
Life is difficult for some of us. We find different ways through it and we all end up at the same place – at the end of life in one of those cemeteries I walked into this morning with doggie poo poo on my shoes. It seems to me we should embrace what we have been able to make out of existence, to thank those who helped us, to work to make it easier for those who don’t fit so well because it’s a big world and there ought to be a place for all of us, and though I didn’t know the person I buried, I felt good expressing these feelings on his behalf, on behalf of his family, on behalf of those who have departed this life who loved him and worried about him and prepared the way for him to be able to live out his days.
He lived the best he could.
At home I fixed a little meal, gave Gracie some meat jerky and sat on the porch musing about the approaching freedom holiday, asking myself the question: when does freedom begin? What contributes to it? How far back can I regress my story to mark who has stood in my freedom chain and for whom am I contributing to their freedom in the future – complex, this notion of freedom. What have we lost here in the United States of America when we toss these sacred notions around without more compassion.
I made a beautiful Assam tea, reserved for Sundays, in memory of our friend Susan from Kentucky and shared it with my beloved; Assam — from the world’s largest tea producing region — adjacent to Myanmar [Burma] and Bangladesh, on either side of the Brahmaputra river. Rich and malty, like the earth.
I called my darling Auntie in Florida who used to take care of me when she was a teenager kissing Walter in the vestibule. She was worried about us. “We’re Stones,” she said referring to our family name, “a Stone worries.” I didn’t say anything. A stone doesn’t worry. A stone just is.
Tomorrow I will discuss with my beloved veterinarian the final rites for my Gracie. When I feel it’s time to take her there, I don’t want to go when there are a lot of other people sitting complacently in the waiting room with their well manicured doggies and kitties. I want it to be at the end of the day, and I want to come and go quietly.