Art Imitating Death Imitating Art
In the summer of 1987, my grandfather (father’s side) died. My family was on vacation in Seoul, Korea. We lived in Sasebo, Japan at the time. I remember the Navy Chaplain visiting us in our tatami-mat hotel and delivering the news. We cut our vacation short and flew from Korea to Wyoming for the funeral.
I don’t remember who said it or how it was said, but my teenage self took to heart when a person mentioned how unfortunate it was that the one time you could count on the entire extended family gathering together was for funerals.
When I wrote a story for Tracks about a woman dealing with the death of her parents, that childhood memory still lingered in the back of my mind. That, and a vivid scene from East of Eden when the Hamilton family gathers to talk about their plans after their father (John Steinbeck’s grandfather) died. Of course, on some subconscious level, I realize that I must have been writing through fears of the inevitable as well.
I named the story “Reunion” and wrote this line of dialogue from an estranged neighbor friend: “Why is it that it takes tragedy to bring old friends together?”
On May 9 of this year, about a month ago, my grandmother (mom’s side) died, leaving behind a husband of 68 years who is 95 years old.
At the viewing and funeral and house, family, friends, and community gathered. It was nice to see so many people paying their respects. But that same feeling echoed and I even had to voice it. “We should try to get together more often,” I said to cousins and uncles and family and friends.
Here’s to art imitating life imitating art.
I read an abridged version of “Reunion” for WYPR’s The Signal. You can catch a podcast under “Reunion” at www.tracksnovel.com/radio.html.
You can also find it here: http://yourlisten.com/channel/content/84379/Reunion.