I don’t have a bad sense of direction. I have zero sense of direction. If I added up all the time spent driving South when I should have been going North or stopping strangers only to hear ‘left, right, right, left…if you pass the railroad you’ve gone too far, blah, blah, blah’ What? Are they kidding me? I know that was English, but it may as well been an alien talking. No comprendo. Nada.
Anyway, if I added all that time up it would be not days, not months, but years. Yes, years of circling around and getting nowhere, like a dog chasing his tail. And, like a dog, it always left me wanting to curl up and nap.
My husband, Jimmy was my compass. I don’t mean that as a sweet metaphor. I really mean he was my compass especially since the invention of cell phones. At least once a week I would frantically call him and he would patiently (most of the time) say ‘Okay, so where do you THINK you are? Is the 7/11 on your right or your left? No…turn around – You’re going the wrong way – AGAIN.’
He would stay on the phone with me until I knew where I was and often that wouldn’t be until I was in our driveway. Am I exaggerating? Only a little.
The Friday before Father’s Day I decided to go to the cemetery. Jimmy had been gone for two months and I hadn’t been back since his funeral. Naturally, I didn’t drive myself that day and there were plenty of people around me to show me the way once we got out of the cars. I wasn’t exactly paying attention to where I was or how I got there which, now that I think about it, was the only thing normal about that day.
I got to the entrance to the cemetary late. They close the gate at 5:00. I got there at 4:15 because I had a pedicure first. The woman who does my toes was running late, then she got a phone call and left me soaking and to be honest, I didn’t calculate the drying time.
So, here I am driving along winding paths with my head out the window straining to find ‘Serenity East’ a section among what seemed thousands of identical sections of
masoleums. The air was soft and quiet and my heart seemed to be beating louder and faster. It leaped when my cell phone rang and my first thought was, ‘Oh, good. Jimmy can help me.’
It was my cousin Sharon who may actually have a worse sense of direction than I do. When she asked me where I was I told her, “This will make you laugh and cry at the same time. I’m driving around the cemetery looking for Jimmy.”
Now it’s close to 4:45 and a security car came by and told me they were closing the gate at 5:00, but if I parked my car right outside the gate I could walk and stay as long as I wanted to. I was so grateful since I was beginning to feel like a horrible person for taking up valuable time getting my toes done.
On foot and especially on feet that have just been soaked and massaged and only want to revel in the lotions, not squish around and be pounded in flip flops it is key to be walking in the right direction. It’s one thing to be lost in a car and a very different experience to retrace your steps literally especially when the destination
is what it was.
I passed Nickolas Santana at least four times. I circled Katherine Luck easily three times and noted she died at 41. “Guess you ran out of luck, eh, Katherine Luck?” I saluted her.
I was not leaving until I found Jimmy and I dreaded finding him and seeing his name with the dates chiseled on the marble. How horrible. How real that would make it. Is this why I couldn’t find him? Was I keeping myself from this or was I just lost like usual?
I began babbling to Jimmy that this wasn’t funny anymore and why don’t you just help me out here considering it was quarter to six already. True, I had no reason to go home. You’re not there, but still…
I noticed a man. One man alone holding a map. In all of my travels there was no one but me wandering around and there he was. At first I thought he might be a mirage. I approached him and he pointed to where ‘Serenity East’ was. It was far, he said. He said you’re supposed to go to the office first and pick up a map. Yeah, like I could read a map.
I stumbled off in the right direction and to make a very long story a little shorter, by 6:10 I found Jimmy. It was an awful jolt to see his name and date and I collapsed on the cement bench facing him and cried and cried and rubbed my feet.
I stayed about a half hour talking and talking and feeling him listening and I wrote on the back and left a picture of Skylar, then began my journey back to find my car. Don’t ask…