I was thinking that I would call you
around 4 o’clock but you died between 1 and 2
that same afternoon.
Sandra called me with the news.
Both of us unable to choke back the tears.
A light ocean breeze came in through the screen
door & I thought I heard windchimes, but
they were out on the patio at 2319 Louella Ave in Venice
in 1971. Dad was having a
smoke & you were laughing at my Don Ho imitation.
I had just seen you 3 weeks earlier,
a Christmas visit. You were so frail, had been sick since Thanksgiving.
I told Pamela I thought that this may be the last
Christmas with you as we drove past Rincon the
sunlight glittering on the water.
Talked to you on the phone shortly thereafter,
your voice weak. I told you to get better, because
I was going to take you out dancing on your 87th birthday.
We were going to “cut a rug”.
The hummingbird visited the feeder in your backyard
but it was empty. The house was full of family–
my brother & my sisters, nieces & nephews,
your grandchildren & great-grandchildren.
My heart fell flat as I entered. It was the first time I ever
visited your house without you there to greet me.
I kept my sunglasses on in St. Mark’s Church, the way you
often did when you went grocery shopping. With the shades, the
black suit jacket & skinny black tie I thought I
looked like one of the Reservoir Dogs but Alan said I looked
more like one of the Blues Brothers.
They have new stained glass windows in St. Mark’s.
The plaques representing the stations of the cross are
also new I think. Shadows danced across the altar all
during the service.
You told me once that you used to
talk to me when you were carrying me in utero
before I was born. So now I talk to you
after you’ve died.
I talk to you the way I did that aftrenoon,
out on the patio, among the windchimes,
& we heard a mockingbird singing in the avocado tree,
for Maxine Dorothy Opstedal, 1928-2015