Monday, February 13, 2012

What remains is color...

Image courtesy of TravelPod



    Pedro sent most of his days at the Cemetery. Not all day, mind you. He would take time for meals, an afternoon siesta, a beer with friends, mass on Saturday. But most days you could find him there caring for the tombs and building his own.

    To him it was a happy place. The white washed and brightly colored tombs shining in the Mexican sun kept it from being a gloomy place of death. He enjoyed his routine as he took care of the graves of his family.

    The first thing each day he would leave a kiss for his wife on her headstone and then sit on her tomb and share a coffee while discussing the events of their little community. She always was a gossip and would be upset with him if he left out any detail. He would then tend to all of his family members; he had managed to keep them all fairly close together over the years.

    There was his oldest son that had died in a fishing accident forty years ago. Pedro had always been very grateful they were able to recover his body. His daughter was next to his wife, on the opposite side of his own site. She had fallen victim to the fever in '72; that had been hard for his wife. He often thought she would have succumbed then and joined her daughter if it had not been for the grandchildren.

    They were beside their mother. Pedro spent a great deal of time with them, always making sure the bright blue paint was fresh. He would also bring them figurines every week or so that he had carved from driftwood. The closest he ever came to tears was when he would look upon their pictures in the alcove and the angel statues on their headstones.

    He was always happy to talk to the tourists that wandered through their grand cemetery. He would explain their customs and answer the questions about the colors and the items in the alcoves. Every once in a while one would ask him why he spent so much time there. His aways answered with a smile.

    "Where else should I be? All of my family is here."

    1. I think Stella must have met Pedro all those years ago.

      Nicely captured sentiment of family ties!


  2. What Remains is Color . . .

    I will never forget that day, sightseeing. Off in a foreign land, newlyweds with not a care in the world. We did our share of exploring the city’s nightlife, but she was determined to grab every opportunity to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of sunny Mexico.

    So many years have passed…

    We let the bustling streets of the port city fill our hearts and minds with memories – the kind of souvenirs we could afford, and could take with us everywhere we went. Stella was particularly enamored with the bursts of bright colors that surrounded us at every turn.

    Little did she know how the colors paled in her radiant presence…

    On our last day there, just off the beaten path, we came upon a cemetery so unlike anything from back home. Her face lit up, seeing all the bright colors. “They remain in death, as they did in life – full of color! I want to be buried here!” We laughed at the notion of speaking of death and burial, just starting our lives together.

    That was four children, nine grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren ago…

    We laid her to rest today in that tiny little town in Mexico. No one wore black. My wife of 62 years may be gone, but her color in this world will remain forever. I think she’ll smile, knowing I remembered.

    I’ll love you forever, Stella.

    1. Story of a honeymoon and a life all in one short piece. Well done. Maybe she did cross paths with Pedro....


    He drove past that cemetery twice a day for seventeen years. It was always an inconspicuous place hued in muted grays and giving the impression of cold lifelessness. Aaron Peale never paid it any mind. It was just background; an obligatory staged scene from a low-budget horror film.

    But there were no horrors any scarier than your own. Aaron knew this. He came to believe this the hard way. Never drawn to dwell within the confines of this barren “gated” community, he relented. He felt compelled now to know the lay of the land. Aubrey had died.

    Aubrey was a giving soul that had decorated Aaron’s life in every way possible. From their first meeting he knew. An arranged meeting; that blind date had the potential to go horribly wrong. However, Aubrey possessed something he recognized right away. A quiet gentility that transcended any trepidation he had. She had an artist’s eye as opposed to his poetic heart. Aubrey was as expressive in oils as Aaron was in verbs.

    There was always one thing that neither had an easy time expressing adequately, and it became to reason Aaron avoided standing anywhere near the wrought-iron fence gate.
    Cancer stood as Aubrey’s conqueror. In as much as she tried to get Aaron to discuss her eventuality, he always avoided the subject thinking that if he gave it less gravity, the reality of her demise would lessen. But, the lesson it presented was one Aaron failed to learn.

    He witnessed her decline. Gradual at first, it gained velocity in the downhill passage of time. With her dying breath, she pleaded with Aaron through vacant eyes, that something needed to be said about this journey they had traveled together until now. Unfortunately, through her passing, Aubrey’s voice was forever silent. She vowed that she would have the last word in all of this. She’ll send a sign for Aaron, to help him understand that he had done much to enliven her existence.

    The memorial service was short, a non-denominational blurb in a rapidly moving day. His chance to say a last goodbye, and Aaron felt that it was over before he knew it; a distraction before her final interment. The motorcade was as unobtrusive as the brief send-off that Aubrey had been given. In a simple statement it was reduced to twelve cars and the hearse.

    Rain-pocked skies loomed as the parade of automobiles wound through the streets of Bergen past the apartment Aaron and Aubrey shared. Aaron’s mind was an eternity away it seemed. Funeral flags flapped in the cold breeze and the four-way flashes the cars emitted only broke the gloom of the day as they approached St. Vincent’s Cemetery at a calculated pace. Aaron dreaded facing the monochromatic sense of finality that this dead space possessed.

    There was something peculiar about the far corner of St. Vincent’s. It was bright. Vibrant. Splashes of color dotted the landscape and monuments near where Aubrey would rest. It stood out, as if she were reaching out from beyond to slap Aaron back to life. She wanted to be celebrated, not mourned. It was her sign.

    It was something his artist girlfriend always believed. Life was to be expressed as completely and explicitly as it could. For no matter how dreary an end to which we come, the grayness of reality is what overwhelms those left behind.

    “You can bury my body” she’d say, “but you’ll never bury my spirit. You can peel away the layers of what I had amassed in my life and hide me under the ground, but what I leave behind is the essence of everything I had been.”

    Aaron knew she was right. All of Aubrey was gone. What remains is color.

    1. Good stuff. Got that book outline completed yet? Fiction seems to suit you.

  4. Thank you Mark. You do well with it yourself. The new tag line of these pages says it best...Everyone has a little story to tell. Thanks for continuing to share yours.

    Paula, it is so good to find your work here without the confines of meter or rhyme. You too have a knack for making something short and sweet come to life through your words. Thanks to you as well.

    Rj, you picked another good prompt/photo. The tradition continues... Flashy Fiction is alive and well.