My favorite curmudgeon had a few instructions for me before he died.
Please put flowers on JoAnna’s grave, he asked. Check. Nearly every week, Jay. Brought you an American flag, too.
Bring me a drink once in a while, would you, honey? Hmmm. Haven’t done this one, but it’s on my list. I actually don’t think he’d mind that I leave the booze at home, but you never know. He liked a glass of Cab. Every time we went out to dinner, he’d order one for himself and one for me. I’d demurely sip mine until he finished his and switched glasses. The waitress would see my empty glass and ask if I’d like another. Oh she can’t handle her wine, Jay would interject. Better not.
And then he’d laugh, that raspy sound which echoes in my heart two years later. His face would scrunch; he’d roll his eyes, and order another glass for himself.
Jay also asked for a few special considerations, like the particular color of roses that JoAnna liked on her anniversary and birthday (done, each year so far). He extracted a promise for me to write to Senator Roberts on his behalf (done) and, he underscored twice: Don’t abandon little Anne.
Little Anne. Anne Jones, his first cousin. She and I began a friendship during visits to Jay. I like her. I respect her. We differ in our opinions on many issues — politics chief among them — but we shared a common affection for my favorite curmudgeon.
Yesterday, I rode with Anne to her farm in Cass County. We walked as her service dog Katy ran through the fields. Afterwards, we stopped at the cemetery to visit Jay and JoAnna’s gravesite together. Usually, I’m alone. I post pictures of the new flowers and then she drives by to see them for herself. This time, she and Katy went to the edge of the lake to fetch a rock with which to stabilize the evergreens that I placed on the grave last weekend. We stood gazing over the water, feeling the gentle air of late autumn. We talked of Jay; and of his last months. I recalled the little party that we had made for him, and the picture which I took of Anne, Jay, and Anne’s beloved Katy. The memory of that day made both of us smile.
It’s the twenty-seventh day of the thirty-fifth month of My Year Without Complaining. I can’t think of a thing about which to complain today. I’m only thinking of people and times which make me smile. Life continues.