Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Nurse the Hate: Hate The Ashes

It’s not easy to look at the news right now.  Trump is filling his cabinet with scary and dangerous people that will likely doom us all.  Meanwhile the people on the other far end of the spectrum are marching in the streets in protest.  Go home.  The election happened and you lost.  That’s the way it works.  As a very calm friend of mine said in a club before we played a show about six months ago, “Hey man, if we elect Trump it just shows that we don’t care anymore.  We deserve to go down.”  He was, and is now, 100% correct.  We bought the ticket.  Now it’s time to buckle up for the ride.  It’s going to be a rough one that lasts at least a half decade.

It’s a good time to focus on the micro and not the macro.  I saw that my cousin Nancy was traveling across the country to a relative’s wedding with her mother’s ashes in tow.  I like to think about my Aunt’s spirit in the room upset about something completely irrelevant like the type of flowers or timing of dinner at her granddaughter’s wedding.  My Aunt Rose was a woman that didn’t finish a meal in the last 40 years of her life.  She would spend every meal engaged in a rambling monologue that could cover subjects as diverse as other relatives, the Yankee’s #2 hitter, the history of a New York deli, Turkish coffee house social mores, and the efficiency/inefficiency of the hotel staff of her current lodgings.  All of these subjects were very thinly held together by a tiny thread as she pushed her food around her plate, stopping the fork from entering her mouth to make a point.  I never saw her finish a meal.  Not once.

If we were eating at a restaurant our table would be almost impossible for the staff to service.  Whereas most diners would finish their meal in 20-30 minutes, my Aunt might not even begin to make progress on her entrée until 35 minutes in.  She would then be very confused when the waiter would ask her one hour later if she wanted her now cold plate of food cleared, completely flummoxed by the outrageous idea that this waiter would try to clear food this soon after serving it.  Her ability to ignore the fact the rest of the people at the table had long since finished their meal was extraordinary.  More than once I saw the server’s thin smile masking frustration as they disappeared forever after being curtly turned down on their offer of clearing the table.  I’m still waiting for a waiter to come back to my table at a meal we shared in White Plains NY in 1994.

My Aunt had expressed her wishes to have her ashes spread in the Ganges River in India.  She loved that part of the world having traveled extensively in India and Turkey.  I personally believe that her experience was made extra special after making a grave error in currency exchange rates.   She misread the currency conversion board after entering the country and instead of 70 rupees to the dollar, she was tipping at 700 rupees to the dollar.  This led to an army of locals following her everywhere catering to anything they might have even thought might be her whim.  If some crazy lady would give you $10 to open a door for her, why not?  Got to make hay while the sun shines!  This led to her strolling around like the Queen of Sheba with a posse Alan Iverson would have envied.  Imagine a skinny little lady with  a shock of gray hair in a bob walking with 30 locals heading over to the Taj Mahal.  “Hey, who is that?  Is she famous?”

I don’t know when my cousin is planning on taking these ashes to the river.  My Aunt passed away well over a decade ago now.  I am hoping that my cousin was waiting for this wedding to go off and will move ahead shortly.  My great fear is that she will continue to put this off and something will prevent her from making the trip herself.  I will receive a call along the lines of “Greg, as you know this hip surgery has made me largely immobile, so I was wondering of you could do something very important…”  My mind then flashes to myself in a dingy hotel room in India, bent over with massive gastrointestinal crisis, a plastic bag of gray ashes sitting on the dresser.  The ceiling fan squeaks overhead failing to dry the thin sheen of sweat from my fevered skin.  I force myself up and trudge unsteadily to the Ganges looking for a spot to open the bag and do the deed.  I wait for a moment of privacy that will never come, tourists and locals passing in a steady stream.  I finally decide there is no point in waiting, and open the bag to provide Rose with her final wish.  Not gauging the wind correctly, the ashes fly everywhere.  I wipe my eyes and struggle back to my room with a dusting of ash all over my clothes.  Fittingly my Aunt is everywhere at once. 


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