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November 03, 1995 - Image 144

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1995-11-03

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

3/4 WENT TO A
HEALTH CARE OR
WELLNESS FACILITY IN
THE LAST 12 MO

MOTHER'S GRAVE page 143

hill, while her children followed
behind. The others prayed; my
mind wandered. The others
spoke the Hebrew words. I spoke
different, silent ones, absurd lines
of half-remembered poetry:
Let no sunshine's yellow noise
Interrupt this ground.
So we extinguished the sun-
light in a shower of earth and
stone and dust.
My brother grasped the first
shovel. Tentatively, with the back
of his shovel as Jewish tradition
demands, he lifted the first clod
of earth and let it fall. Now a hol-
low thunk of soil and rock, and I
knew I had been orphaned.

It's that hollow
thud-thud-thud that
tears your heart.

•v:

* •- 34
Wrt

Turning his shovel around, my
brother worked like a man pos-
sessed. His frenzy alarmed a
cousin, who put a gentle hand on
his shoulder and whispered,
"Dave, take it easy." But David
was somewhere on another
plane. Furiously, he flung the
shovel, and the pebbles and dirt
fell in a quickening hail. His face

grew red and contorted, and still
he kept up his relentless pace.
Grief had taken a human form.
Uncles and cousins took other
shovels. The clatter became a
steady, dull thud. Inch by inch,
my mother disappeared. I
strained for a last glimpse of her
coffin. It was like watching some-
one drown in quicksand.
As each man finished, he
placed his shovel upright in the
earth. It would not do to hand the
shovel to someone else. Each
must pick it up himself, volun-
tarily.
A 75-year-old uncle took his
place in line. "Dad," said his son-
in-law, "you don't have to do this.
I'll take care of it."
"No, I will do my share," my
uncle answered. "I need to do
this."
His final gift to my mother. My
brother's final gift to her. And my
gift, too — a gift of grief and ac-
ceptance.
Now she lay under the mound.
Slowly, quietly, a cousin trickled
earth into the last gaps. We re-
cited Kaddish. I turned my back
on the grave and walked slowly
through the file of mourners. As
I walked, I wept. For I knew that
my mother was dead. 111

T P1110
11 GER
NYWHERE
TOWN.

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144

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