Sunday, September 20, 2009

Forest Lawn

During my time with Cindy, I've been to a number of funerals, many of which took place at Forest Lawn in Cypress. This past weekend, we attended her Aunt Joanne's funeral in the little white chapel at the cemetery. The blue casket was set against the backdrop of a lovely stained glass window. I first visited this chapel in 2000 for the funeral of Cindy's Uncle's partner. That's when I met most of Cindy's extended family who live in Orange County. The family has both grown and diminished in the 10 years since, with many births as well as deaths. In fact, a baby shower was scheduled for Cindy's second cousin Brittany's first baby several hours after the funeral service, and many of the family headed that way after visiting for a while outside the chapel.

Another rather large group, however, traipsed all over the cemetery at Forest Lawn as the Dixons visited graves and cleaned headstones. Small children ran and laughed while bigger kids were charged with filling containers with water for the flowers that were placed on the various graves. A plastic bag with towels, brushes, and cleaning materials was carried from grave to grave where adults scoured the copper headstones. Everyone went to every grave. At Cindy's grandfather's grave, Fred told the amazing story of his arrival in the US from England at age 14, as well as an hilarious story about the time he sold horse manure in a box as cake to an unknowing party. It was hot, and we were dripping with sweat, so slowly folks began to emerge from their cars in shorts and tank tops having changed out of black funeral duds while driving from site to site through the sprawling cemetery.

Sometime along the way, we got a screw embedded in one of our brand new tires, and it was going flat, so when we left the cemetery, we located a nearby automotive place on Cindy's GPS and drove straight there. The tire could not be fixed because the screw was in the side wall, so we put the spare on and will use the bad tire should we get another flat before we get home. Since we were in the middle of a neighborhood where Cindy once lived, we spent some time driving the nearby streets as she pointed out a few of her old haunts: the laundromat, the bar, the route to work, and the house, or rather the spot where she had lived because the house had been torn down and a new duplex stood there. Many changes had taken place in the neighborhood, offering yet another comment about the passage of time.

Then we headed to the reception for the funeral in Fontana. We spent over an hour in traffic on the 91 as did most of the guests. It was pretty late when we got there, but there was still plenty of food and lots of folks doing all the reminiscing that usually goes on at such events. The family had displayed many of Aunt Joanne's beautiful handicrafts-- quilts, crocheted afghans, poodle skirts and other wonderful garments. About 10pm, we drove up the 60 to Ontario where we had reserved a motel room. See how I'm referring to the highways by numbers? That's what everyone does down here.

Today, we will drive home on the 99! We are listening to a J.A. Jance mystery on an audiobook which will definitely make the drive pass by easier, but sitting in a car for 8 hours nevertheless takes its toll. We are both ready to be home and back to our normal routine. As busy as it is, it's preferable to long road trips. Though one gift the Dixon family has given me is a more full bodied respect for family and the traditions that mark passages.

No comments: