The church bells began around one. As you know, the church bells here have four electronic settings: birth, wedding, baptism, and death. The death bells are slow and intermittent without a real melody to them. They're creepy. You feel that death is in fact upon you when you hear them. Needless to say, they successfully get their point across.
I'm sitting in my grandfather's house. The second floor is known as our part of the house. Aside from the room where my bedridden grandmother and her caregiver sleep, it's the place where we, the relatives from America, stay when we visit. It's where you and I stayed.
God I loved your impersonation of my bedridden grandmother. My mom says she's about ninety-six now. She's still bedridden obviously, but she's definitely gotten more skeletal since the last time I saw her, which was with you three summers ago.
My mother and cousin stand on the balcony while I sit in the big, cushiony, floral chair that faces the same view — a giant mountain and the church directly across the street—now bustling with activity. My mother is pointing out people she hasn't seen in close to forty years as well as making fun of any outdated haircuts she spots. My cousin smokes a cigarette and talks about how much money the mortuary is going to make today. I'm writing, and feeling miserable.
My cousin says, "funerals are red carpet events around here. See and be seen." I get up, join him on the balcony, and look out onto the scene. He's right. It seems like the whole village has descended upon the church. I recognize many faces, a lot of them being distant relatives I hardly know yet have managed to witness age on an annual basis every summer since I was a child. The guest of honor is a being loaded into the church. It is the corpse of the ninety year old woman who until yesterday lived in the house directly behind ours. It takes a few men to get her open air casket through the door. I sit back down again. Moments later, the service begins. I know this because the speakers in the trees have been turned on so that those who chose to decline on this open invitation may hear the cantor from the luxury of their couches. My mother gets up. "I'm going to go light a candle." She's interested to see what kind of commotion she'll stir. "If I go in there, I'm going to steal the crowd. Where have you been? they'll ask me." She giggles at the thought and exits. My cousin finishes his cigarette, rolls another and lights it.
If I were a betting lady I would have lost all the money and the clothes on my back if six months ago I’d wagered my holidays would be spent like this.