My not-exactly-stepmother and I embraced, maybe for the last time, and I said: “goodbye, comrade.” At the last possible moment, I had found a title for my father’s girlfriend of 42 years, someone whose formal relationship with me was never clear.
My mom and aunt and uncle and brother and I were just done burying my grandfather.
We were in North Carolina, where my grandfather lived and died. The cemetery had dug a hole a couple feet deep and left us to do the ceremony. We took the plastic bag of ashes from the crematorium out of the cardboard box and laid it in the hole. We used our hands to shovel dirt over the bag. The dirt was wet red clay.
There was no other reason for us to be in that part of the country. My mom and aunt had moved away after high school, and my grandmother had died ten years before, leaving my grandfather to have a fling with her sweeter-tempered rival at long last.
When the bag was covered we stood back. My mom said to the pit “Goodbye, Daddy. I don’t suppose I’ll be back here again.”