Burying Hopes

This is Mount Hope Cemetery in Colon, Republic of Panama.

After grandfather’s funeral my sister had also told me that grandfather had been sick for a long time walking around with urination problems and that he had not said anything to any of them. I thought I would never forget that day we buried him at Mount Hope Cemetery which, in Spanish, translates to Monte Esperanza.

It had rained relentlessly, the rain beginning to fall a bit before the funeral party left the church. When we reached the cemetery the pall bearers had been unable to pull the casket out of the hearst and the rain continued to fall across the path to the cemetery; one inconvenience seemed to present itself after another.

It turned very ugly that day during the funeral because the sky went from a completely clear and sunny blue to completely dark and heavily clouded. The row of black cars suddenly could not proceed even cautiously with their windshields completely obstructed by torrents of rain. It was as if God was shielding my Papá from having to be buried in that watery grave. The merciless rain added to the sad and ugly mood that I had been feeling. Anyway, I stayed in the car and refused to leave.  Some people at the funeral were muttering that the heavy rain meant my grandfather had not wanted to leave this world but I remained inmovable in that car, the lead car, not accepting that I was there to bury my Dad.

Coming back from the grave site they reported to me that they had to use a pump to draw water from the tomb. After the funeral there wasn’t even a wake and I didn’t notice any of grandfather’s friends or co-workers with whom he had worked for a lifetime. I could not spot any of our menfolk and only one of his daughters had joined the funeral party. Only my grandmother, Naní, and I sat in silence in deep regret barely speaking to anyone.

Everyone was gone leaving the two of us behind with our grief for the disappearance of our beloved Papá. Naní and I had shared those moments of joy together as when I was a small boy and he would arrive home from work at the Railroad Yard and read to us fom the newspaper of what had been happening in the big war. The house we had always called home was empty now and I worried that poor Nani would have to move from where I had spent a memorable childhood with my grandfather to live in God only knew where, in some unknown quarters.

The memories were coming to me arriving as a chain of events and had opened a window into which I looked when my aunts began debating with Nani about who she would move in with first among her daughters. That was my answer to my grandmother’s fate as a widow after she’d spent her whole life looking after her husband and five daughters.

With those memories shut behind me I proceeded to meet my fate that night as I approached the door behind which I would find my mother, Rosa. With that cardboard box full of what was left of my life, a few inanimate objects, I concluded that God had been my most valuable possession. He had assured me that He would help me even during moments like these when I wasn’t sure of the reception I would receive at the hands of my mother that morning in Colon.

This story continues.

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