Before I could go to Peg’s funeral on Saturday, I had to take the kitten to the vet.
Not only did Milhous need booster shots, but I also needed to ask what to do about the fact that he hates food.
My vet is pretty good at solving stuff. “Hang on, let me get something,” she said, and returned with a can of sardines, as you do. I thought the only people who had cans of sardines were Finnish folk or your grandpa.
The vet opened that disgusting can, plucked out one of those oversized goldfish, put it in front of Milhous, and?
That cat ate like he hadn’t eaten in a week, which he practically hadn’t.
“I’ll give you the rest of the can,” the vet said, plinking those gross still-having-eyeballs sardines into a plastic baggie.
So now what do I gotta do? Do I gotta buy sardines alla time? Where the hell do you buy sardines? The Old Man Halls Mentholyptus and Sardines Emporium?
SarDine and Deluca?
Once we were done, I screamed home and dropped off the Old Man and the Seafood, there, and got back in the car to vote. It was 12:30, Peg’s funeral was at 2:00, and I figured it’s the midterms. I’ll just pop in and pop out.
Hello, angered nation. Holy cats. There was literally no parking at the rec center. I had to go to the Dollar Store and walk back there, and then I waited in line for an hour. I finally voted. I’d say half of you might be pleased with how I voted.
At this point, I had less than half an hour till Peg’s funeral. I thought of the joke of being late for your own funeral while I screamed home, put on ANY FUCKING THING that was remotely dark and sorry-you’re-dead-looking, and screamed to the church.
I was still five minutes late; the whole thing had already begun. I was very Benjamin in The Graduate, and you can image how delighted everyone was when I dashed into the funeral yelling,
The good news is, no one noticed me slipping in late except the guy who made you sign the guest book. I listened to the very nice Presbyterian minister whilst I plucked the myriad animal fur off my black mourning tights. Mostly I was just going through the motions, till they played a “reflective piece,” according to the program.
Peg had been a member of this church; she was in the choir. I knew pretty much all the members of said choir, as they had regularly attended the many parties Peg had during the 10 years she was my neighbor. There was the woman who stays pretty no matter what age she is. There’s the friend Peg and I went for Mexican food with. They were all there.
When the pianist got up, I expected some somber hymn. But it wasn’t.
It was 100% Peg.
It was upbeat, it was whimsical, it was so absolutely her. I saw all the choir members smile and tap their feet, rockin’ out with their Presbyterian out.
And all of a sudden, the reflective song really became a reflective song. I thought of the day I met Peg, how she told me about all the good shopping in the area. I got right in the car and checked it out, that minute.
I remembered her driving me one night, in the rain, to a housewares store she knew about that sold really great stuff for cheap.
Peg was an absolutely horrifying driver.
I remembered the one, two, three times she helped me decorate my house. Peg was an artist and an interior designer, and she was good. She helped me when I first learned what she did for a living. She drew me diagrams of where things should go in each room.
She helped me again when Marvin moved out. As soon as she heard he was leaving, she took my side, even though she had no idea why he was going. I remember her helping me paint the dining room and never saying ONE WORD to on-his-way-out Marvin.
And finally, when I came back after my year abroad, she saw me get out of my car and her reaction was priceless. “Yay!!! …Ohhhh.” She was happy till she realized why I was moving back. And she helped me unpack by sitting in a chair, with wine, and telling me what to put where.
I did everything she said.
I thought of the parties she had, and all the celebrating we did together: New Year’s Day meditations downtown, Halloween when she dressed as Bob Ross, Christmas when she made the best bacon ever, the royal wedding at 5 a.m.
While that piano player was playing his so-totally-Peg tune, I thought of all that. And from the smiles all around the room, I could tell everyone else was thinking their own happy Peg thoughts.
And I know that in this life, some of us want to have fame, or wealth, or great beauty, and fortunately, I have all those things in spades.
But when you come down to it, you really can’t ask for more than to leave a group of people smiling on a sunny fall afternoon because they’re thinking about who you were while you were here.
As the funeral came to an end, I grabbed my stuff to go to the reception, and it was right then that I remembered what I had in my purse.
Peg, I’m sorry that I came to your funeral with a whole mess of sardine eyeballs staring disdainfully through a baggie.
But I think somehow you’d have loved that.