My grandmother died when I was pregnant with Max; I flew to Romania for the funeral of a woman who loved me so much she would just watch me read and smile. One life gone while another prepared to bloom. The grotesque twists still leave me speechless.
Patrick, Milla, Bunicu, and I went to pay our respects late yesterday afternoon. Bunica is buried in the most famous cemetery in Romania- a place where every grave and mausoleum evokes little fragments of the history hastily assembled into the Romanian national idea.
America has no couterpart for Bellu. Our famous cemetery, Arlington National Cemetery, revolves around thousands of identical graves for the soldiers of our many wars, our blood-laced benevolence. We don't have a cemetery for the great thinkers, writers, and artists of our country because our culture doesn't value ideas and art in any way that suggests permanence. Or maybe we haven't had enough time to acknowledge the intellectual contributions of individual Americans (though this seems strange given the number of fascinating artists and public intellectuals in the US). Anyhow, it's unfortunate in some sense.
Leaving flowers from my father for his mother.
Seeing my grandfather's photo and all but two numbers waiting to be filled on his gravestone was jarring.
We prepared the flowers and changed the water as he has done every Sunday since she died (unless he was in the US with us).
I told my grandmother that my father loved her and missed her. We Romanians speak to the dead- we don't believe they are really dead. In some sense, they are more alive.
We also speak to saints and people whom we admire as amazing human beings- those who humbled themselves and carried the burdens of the world with grace and love.
Milla watched with curiosity as I spent a little time with my grandmother.
Bunicu pays his respects to "Turica", his nickname for her.