I’m going to skip ahead to Week 27 and this post should have gone out on Friday, July 8. This week’s prompt calls for writing about a funeral. I chose to write about my paternal grandfather’s funeral. It was the first funeral I attended and he was my last grandparent, the oldest of them. I can’t say I knew him well or really at all. His mere age and his phlegmy coughing scared me. No one really knew how old he was. He probably never knew himself. No record exists of his birth and he wasn’t always the most reliable narrator.
I was 12 years old when he died in mid-November 1969. I remember I wore a jumper and mock turtleneck sweater and knee socks. I remember playing on our slate landing between our two front staircases while waiting for the limo to arrive. A Thursday. I think we may have ridden in a limousine. What I remember most is my twin and I getting into a laughing fit at the cemetery and the adults tried to quiet us. None of my sisters has any recollection of the funeral.
In writing this snapshot, I used “I remember” to start every sentence. I could see myself outside playing, anticipating something but I didn’t know what. I could see myself on the cemetery, feeling bored behind the adults. But since my sisters don’t remember, I wonder if the signs were already there that I’d become a writer, someone who notices and observes.
What was the first funeral you remember attending? As a writer, do you think you’re more predisposed to noticing and observing?
Hi Barbara, When my mother died in 2006, a French friend (a writer and literary translator) who lives in Brussels sent me a lovely “I remember” list about her memories of my mom and my friend’s time as an exchange student in California. When I told her how much her piece meant to me, she told me she was inspired by a book by Georges Perec. As I was looking for a link to him, I discovered that he was inspired by the work of an American poet almost a decade earlier. Are you familiar with one or both of them? Links below. Best, Helen
—— Helen Goldsmith http://www.womanwithamessage.com
Thanks for sharing this! I’m not familiar with either Georges Perec or Joe Brainerd.