Where did we leave off…. OH YES. It was raining in Puerto Rico. Actually, by our 4th day, there were some sunny bits breaking through the clouds. Ervin and I were squeezed in side by side on the recliner in the living room, swatting at mosquitos (my hair said something about how it wanted to try a jaunty afro, so that’s what it had planned for the day), when I spotted this photo of Ervin when he was 13. It was perched on the side table, behind the phone and some envelopes. I wasted no time.
Me: “OH MY GOD — WHAT IS THIIIIIIIIIIS!”
Ervin: “(I couldn’t hear this part because I was laughing so hard I got a stomach ache.)”
Lasers. And teen-stache. And featheredness. He said he was going for “Bon Jovi”.
When the sun peeked out briefly, we decided we had to take advantage. This is Ervin’s house. The green jungle-y hills. Gray clouds that would be back like an annoying coworker stopping by your desk. Aggch, what do you want. I’m busy.
I liked these colors and gate design in a neighbor’s yard.
We got a bite to eat. Some mofongo and Malta at the neighborhood Chinese restaurant. Mofongo is plantains. Malta is malt soda. Chinese places are experts at the local Puerto Rican dish. Which may also include fries. And not any Chinese food, that I noticed anyone ordering.Then I asked if I could see Ervin’s Mother’s grave. Because I would want to show him my sister’s grave, if he wanted to see it. I wanted him to know I’m not afraid of cemeteries. That I wanted to get to know his Mom somehow. That I wanted to delicately share that space with him.
This is his Mother’s family’s plot. Her marker is closest to where we stood. She died in 2007 from diabetes, leaving her two sons and husband. I am thinking about this especially because Mother’s Day is coming up this next week. I can’t imagine what it feels like to lose your Mom. In Ervin’s house, there are photos of Dignalda, surrounded by trinkets and mementos. She is clearly the life of the party. When he was showing me around, Ervin walked by her photo, touched her face and said “Look at that gorgeous woman.”
I lingered behind, trying to take in as much as I could, from a few images of her. Hoping that I was honoring the home that she made. Hoping that she would be happy I was there. I wish I could have met her.
We walked through the graves as I snapped some pics and Ervin told me a little about who was buried where. A famous troubadour lay next to his Mom. A few markers were literally homemade scrawling carvings into pieces of rock. Babies that died. Graves from before everyone was born. I was feeling very sacred and serious and I may have been converting to Catholicism with all the Marys and Crucified Jesuses holding vigil around us.
We looked down on a lower part of the cemetery, where a little river passed through bright green grass. There was a flood a few years ago. Which basically freed many a rested soul from its tomb. Ervin’s Dad’s chef friend was one of the escapees. How do we know? He was buried with a bunch of big cooking spoons… unmistakably big cooking spoons… which one would recognize instantly should they make a reappearance. We headed back to the house, just as the gray storm clouds came rolling back in. Grateful for sun enough to spend some time outside.
But as dusk fell, all I could think about was getting back to looking at that 80s picture of Ervin…