So this was my grandma’s face.
I inherited a version of it.
Looking at the pictures and stuff of Grandma flanking her casket in the little room at the ginormous mortuary during the night of her visitation, I got kind of uncomfortable about showing up to her service wearing a face so much like hers. I was wondering if anyone found it creepy that I was a younger version of the person who couldn’t open their eyes, and this phenomenon is probably weirder for twins. Imagine looking into a coffin and seeing yourself. Its that fantasy of being able to go to your own funeral, sort of. Double the helix, double the fun.
In the viewing room next door to Grandma’s, the population of one of the Philippine Islands and all their cousins were taking turns shuffling in and out, paying their respects to some dude that probably had no trouble finding a date to his prom.
TJ and I had brought Uncle Henry to say goodbye to his mom.
When he saw her on the bier, he said, “Hi, Mom.”
He shuffled to the casket, bent over, kissed her closest cheek, and the casket tipped back enough to probably make some people who noticed worry.
Henry kept kissing his mom and reached, placing the backs of his hands against hers the way a mother place’s her hands on a child’s forehead.
“She’s cold,” he announced.
When Henry was done kissing and touching, we walked him to a gray chair. He turned to TJ and said, “At least she doesn’t have to worry about the atomic bomb anymore.”
That’s schizophrenia for you.
After like two hours, we left the visitation to go get spaghetti and driving along the 605, Henry said, “Where are my glasses?” He felt himself up and dug his hands in his shirt pockets looking for the reading and sun-glasses he’s inordinately attached to. “I can’t find them!”
At the spaghetti place, TJ whispered, “I know where his glasses are,” in my ear that has Dumbo lobes like Grandma’s.
“They fell in the coffin.”
All I could do was not say anything.
“He kept bending over her and kissing her and they were hanging from his shirt. Now they’re not.”
“They can’t be.”
TJ looked at me like They are. Henry’s glasses are going to spend eternity with your grandma.
The next morning, Henry, TJ and I drove to Rose Hills’ Rainbow Chapel and parked near a curb marked ORGANIST. I wondered if the spot was meant for a musician or a harvester.
In the chapel, Henry chose to sit in the second row. I sat next to him and TJ sat in the pew to our left, next to my mother. The casket was shut so we couldn’t see what Grandma had going on in there with her. A deacon who looked like a robust George Lopez stood beside the podium and told that story I’ve heard at other funerals about fraternal twin fetuses having a conversation about how they’re scared to be born. Aunt Vicky followed, telling a eulogy about how Grandma always looked classy and loved dogs, especially one’s that looked like they’d been eaten by a hungry garbage truck. Then Dad went up there and gave his eulogy, discussing his mom’s love of mitote and a certain Mexican beverage. One time that he and Mom took Grandma out to lunch, she couldn’t resist.
“Do you have horchata?” she asked the waiter.
“No ma’am,” he answered. “We don’t serve horchata at The Olive Garden but it is very delicious.”
We filed out and hopped into our vehickles and put on our hazards and putted along the road to the gravesite. An SUV with a bumper sticker that read I LOVE NALGONAS almost cut me off, reminding me of the cirCULO of life.
At a grassy, steep enough hill, we parked and gathered and took turns placing flowers on Grandma’s coffin. I spoked to the funeral director, asking him about what famous people are buried at Rose Hills.
“Eazy-E,” he said. “You just um, look for the beer.”
“You mean follow the 40s?”
“Yes. Follow the 40s and you’ll find his grave. The yellow Power Ranger is here, too. There’s also someone else but I can’t remember. They must not be that famous.”
In Mexico you watch undertakers lower and bury the coffin but not in America so we left to go eat at Chili’s. Then we took Henry back to where he lives.
During the little stretch home, past 7-Elevens and nail salons, TJ said, “I talked to the funeral director while you were walking around, looking at tombstones with Henry. He said he’ll get out Henry’s glasses. We can swing by and pick them up next week.”
I had gotten used to this fantasy of Grandma wearing Henry’s shades, looking across the hill at the most high-pitched member of NWA, and now, I was going to have to get unused to it.