Monday, September 3, 2012
The hearse moved slowly down the narrow street where small brick houses lined each side, large shade trees hovering over their roofs. My grandparents had lived in a house looking very much like these and not so many streets away.
A stately magnolia consumed their front yard and in the back, a rose garden neatly sectioned, bloomed in full sun, for my grandfather, the man in the coffin, tested hybrids for a rose company.
Placed near the front walkway was a statue, a red-vested, lawn jockey. Though still common in the south at the time, even as a child I found the fixture offensive and escaped it by entering the house through the back porch which smelled a bit musty but also of fresh peaches.
This house is where my grandfather remained until age required he move, by then widowed and well into his nineties.
I enjoyed that plush ride to the cemetery. In the deadly quiet, I had time to observe unfamiliar streets in the city of my childhood.
I spotted a postman. At home, it seems we've a different mail carrier each day and those afternoons we'd offer shelter from a sudden summer downpour or leave a note to ring the doorbell for hot coffee on frigid mornings, are a thing of the past. Is it here also, I wondered.
He saw us too and I watched, a few seconds in slow motion as he turned, positioning himself on the slightly rounded hill of green grass to face the funeral procession. He then removed his hat.
I then cried.
That was a July day but I think of the postman each Labor Day, the federal holiday which sometimes falls on but always near, my grandfather's birthday.
If the postman is still working, I sincerely wish him a very happy day off.