there's something extraordinary about the mississippi funeral- or at least about my family's mississippi funerals. you really see where faulkner was coming from. we are very bundren.
this weekend we buried aunt druecilla. in my mind- because i am sometimes a resentful bitch- aunt druecilla has always been known for one thing. when i was five, the grandparents and i visited her, she gave us a whole mountain of peas, and for kicks we shelled them in the car the whole way home.
the very minute the last pea went tumbling into the bucket, the telephone rang. it was druecilla. she hadn't meant to give us the peas and she demanded that we bring them back.
just say the name druecilla and i automatically think, grrrr. peas.
[ironically, my mum swears it was grape juice, but i stand by the peas.]
i've always associated aunt druecilla with hand cramps and callused fingers. in reality, there was obviously more. the woman went through some extremely tough shit and she never wavered. and to cope with that, she had what her son, as he leaned over her coffin and smiled, dubbed "Her Ways."
druecilla was my grandfather's half-sister. her mother- who had a bazillion children- married a man- who had a bazillion children- and then they had my grandfather. all his life, my grandfather heard about this whole batch of relatives that belonged to druecilla's dad and weren't related to him. druecilla always called them "MY cousins." she made it abundantly clear they were in no way his.
it turns out- 78 years later- that they were. and upon druecilla's death, my grandfather discovered this whole pile of people he didn't know he had.
it is extraordinary to watch a man who has spent a week reconciling himself to the idea that his family had been reduced to him and an older brother see a whole new unexpected world open up. a world in which he has relatives who have a mailing list and bi-monthly crawdad boils and annual reunions on boat docks.
it is extraordinary to hold his hand as time and again a complete stranger to whom he is mysteriously connected by blood exclaims in sheepish wonder, we didn't even know you EXISTED.
his gray eyes lit up and he'd softly say, i never knew you were mine.