We held a small viewing in Eagar, Arizona, the morning before we buried Betsey in the cemetery there. We were a little irritated by two prints in the funeral home, one a painting of a grossly fat cowboy trying to hit a golfball off a cowpie, called ‘Chip Shot,’ and the other of two cowboys playing golf about to be startled by a rattlesnake.
We’ve just come back from a family reunion out there, where we heard the story behind those prints. It seems that one of the two local artists who has achieved any success has done it with these paintings of cowboys playing golf. The local people are pretty proud of him, and my second-cousin-once-removed, besides being the town manager, does a lot of the framing for him. Understanding those prints as local pride instead of unalloyed bad taste let us put aside the residue of the irritation we had felt at the viewing.
After the reunion we went to Betsey’s grave. We had been talking about ‘going to see Betsey’ for a bit, and apparently our Emma misunderstood us. On the way there she said several times that she was going to “Betsey’s house.” After we got to the grave, and prayed, and put down some wildflowers we’d picked, Emma kept looking around and finally, having figured things out to her own satisfaction and looking for confirmation, told us, “we’re waiting for Betsey, huh?” I guess she thought Betsey was going to come meet us there. We both tried to explain things to her but she gave us a dark, wild look that’s hard to interpret. 100 miles down the road she figured out why Betsey hadn’t come, and told us: “Betsey didn’t hear us, huh?” We didn’t know what to say. Today she told her aunt that we had gone to visit Betsey’s flowers.
Betsey’s favorite cousin, too, will sometimes talk about Betsey being in heaven and sometimes insist, frantically, that Betsey’s just in the hospital. What can one say?