Grandson at funeral

eighteen years
& standing
by the graveside
watching grandma
go into the ground

can’t see her now
her orange hair
& wrinkled face
hidden by the casket

others hang around–
relatives, a few friends
& paid mourners
all pretending to
feel sorry for her

not knowing how
she’d rather have
boogied all night long


I was 18, 1967. My grandmother on my father’s side was quite a colorful character–owned a diner and grocery store-lunch counter. She once scared me when I was about 4 by taking me out to the Winnipeg Bay cafeteria for lunch and then saying she didn’t know if she had enough money to pay for the meal. I still remember her taking change out of her purse and counting it. She said we’d have to wash dishes if we didn’t have enough to cover the bill. She definitely lived on the edge and always had men-boarders in her last houses. One boarder impressed me in the kitchen one day by opening a pop bottle with his teeth. At one of her houses one day, a young guy brought a chimpanzee which bounded up the stairs to the landing where I, 4ish, stood and started jumping on me! She also managed to lose my dog Scamp one weekend when my mother and I went to Grand Beach. She always called me Ricky and would take me in on weekends sometimes when my parents needed a break. There was never a dull moment at her place. I once remember, in grade 6 or 7, playing her and one boarder a Martin & Rossi comedy LP which I thought was pretty funny (Hello Dere!) They never laughed once which gave me a memorable impression that the things I thought were funny or pretty good sometimes did not register on adults. A defining generation gap moment.

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