The Final Departure

I call my mother to tell her about the intricacies and difficulties of making arrangements to have a body shipped to the Caribbean for burial.

She tells me that the way “they” do it here, she doesn’t like it at all.

They don’t want you to see them bury the body.

You know that green thing underneath, that’s what they use to cover up the dirt.

And you know what, the hole is not even deep.

No, “we” have to see the body go down.

They won’t let you see them bury the body.

The hole is not deep, and they don’t line the vault with concrete the way ‘we’ do –

I don’t like it, they just throw dirt in your face.

Can you imagine? No sah!

At funerals I have gone to here – only 2 or 3 – we were determined to stay and watch till they finish – because “we” have to see the body go down in the ground, and they cover it up, and then we go home.

The men get very upset because we want to stay, they tell us we have to move back, and move back, and we have to be a certain distance before they can start, so we just move back to where they tell us and stay right there, and they say move back some more, and we move back and stand up right there till they finish.

Because you know ‘we’ have to sing the sankey till they close up the vault.

That’s when we leave.

And not a second before.

December 31, 1999


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