Warm weather brings images of my childhood. Today, it was a can of tuna fish that sparked my imagination. Of course, a walk in the woods with bird sightings and flowers helped too.

But, that tuna fish. Every time I make tuna fish I think of how my dad told me to stir it with a fork until the tuna was stringy. I still can’t remember exactly how he put it, but I can see, in my mind, how the tuna should look. He showed me how to make tuna in his mother’s kitchen. He told me things like that often. He shared tiny tidbits of practicality to help ground me, I think. I remember all of those things as very special times.

I took that feeling, that conversation and embedded in the context of his mother’s funeral.  I experimented with a one-sided conversation. Let me know your thoughts. It is a rough draft. Here goes…

Lessons at a Funeral

Stir the tuna with a fork
pour a little pickle juice in it
no seeds. It should look like 
threads, flaked. That’s when you
know it’s mixed. Good enough.

Pull that stool over here, so you can
stir this yourself. No, the red one.
You won’t be able to reach the counter
without it. Close the back door. You
can feed the cows later. Yes, the one
your uncle named for you. Your Beauty.

Farmers always ate their big meal at noon.
They called it supper, not lunch like we do
at home. Dinner was their nighttime meal.
They ate sandwiches too, potato salad, things
of that nature. You know, they needed their
strength to finish the day’s work. Up early.

Thank you, no she didn’t suffer. Long, good
life. Farm life. Yep it was hard, sometimes.
Made it through the depression, that’s why
she held onto so much. Stacked to the kitchen
ceiling. We’ll get through it. Thank you for
the kind offer. My wife and I will be going back
to Chicago in the morning. Yes, that’s my oldest
girl. She’s ten. A good helper. Good girl.

No, I don’t think the piano will bother her.
Sound asleep on the pull out. Wrapped herself
in the quilt her grandma made her. The pink one,
with tassels. Want some ice cream, Susie? No.
She didn’t budge. What’s that? Yes, I still play,
but the kids are all sleeping. Don’t want to wake them.
Maybe in the morning. Yep, it’s about a four-hour drive.
Back to Chicago. Well, thank you. No, no, it’s good.
She didn’t suffer. OK, just a song or two. I know a little
Ragtime, jazz, classical, Gershwin mostly. Long day.

Susan Ward Trestrail, 2017


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