Monday, Apr. 13, 2015 @ 10:41 am
We take the elevator up to the ninth floor, and a hotel staff woman in a French maid outfit directs us to the executive suite at the end of the hallway. We enter, and the three room apartment is packed shoulder-to-shoulder, a sea of black dresses and suit jackets. The place is over heated and smells of damp Vancouver air with undertones of white wine and fruit platters.
I sign the guest book, pick up the funeral brochure. A pamphlet with his life story, comforting quotes, a photo of him from five years ago (when he still looked like a version of himself), and his expiration date.
I do a quick round of hugs and hellos, and then aim a trajectory for the food table. Pour myself some Perrier, stack a cardboard plate with sushi, carrot sticks, and Swiss cheese.
There are 75, 80 people here. I know a good chunk of them - aunts, cousins, family friends. Some I see regularly, others annually. Others just at funerals.
After a while I need a break. I head over to one of the small windows. These old hotels, these queens of architecture, with their crown mouldings, brass detailing, copper roofing. Oil paintings heavy above the fireplace. A chandelier that might just be real. The doors comically small. The rumour is going around that this was Robin William's favourite suite. I lean on the window sill, chin in my hands, staring out at the city below. A gathering on the stairs of the art gallery, cherry blossoms drifts soggy in the gutters. Gulls and crows patroling from the sky for discarded food scraps. I breath in and out, letting go of the anxiety of forced socializing.
Later, I am moving passed a cluster that includes Daniel, his mother, and some other ladies. He looks over at me and says, "You'll have to work on her!" And I know instantly that the conversation has turned to childbearing. I reply without skipping a beat, with a shrug of my shoulders, "I'm just not interested." Which causes a burst of comments from the women about the magnitude of work associated with child rearing, and I am released from their clutches.
We walk home later that night. I feel sick from eating too many Nanaimo bars. The night air is a tonic. "I don't feel very good," says Daniel. The funeral for his grandfather. We all stood around the food table and did a shot of whiskey for the old man. Ate carrot cake, and talked about how he was stern yet fair. Nobody liked him much until he was older, retired, and widowed. Successful an understatement for the self-made man - from a grade 13 education to Senior VP of a now-defunct crown corporation.
I don't feel very good either.