Song, Artist, Album, Year
Song: Any Color You Like
Artist: Pink Floyd
Album: Dark Side of The Moon
Grandma is buried in Rose Hills, far East of Downtown, a beautiful and rolling piece of land from which you can see the entire LA basin stretched between Palos Verdes and the San Gabriel Mountains. There is a peacefulness in this place, a gentle calm, overlooking everything. We would park near the top of the hill on afternoons during High School and then climb the old water tower and watch the sun set and the city in the distance illuminate the dark.
Grandma was born in a small Texas town in the early 20’s and came West not long after that, in her adolescence, to treat her tuberculosis. Doctors told my great-grandparents that she had only a forty percent chance of survival, so she spent three years in isolation at Olive View Sanitarium in the 30’s in order to recuperate. She was quarantined that entire time, so the crucial moment between fourteen and seventeen was spent without a physical connection to her family.
I remember I used to ask her about how the city was like during the 40’s and the 50’s, and she would tell me stories about how her and her friends would go to Downtown, to Broadway, to the old Dance Halls and Theaters, and stay up later than they were supposed to.
She told me about how she met Grandpa while they were both tenants of an apartment complex on Vermont. Her, working during the day as a secretary, and him, behind the switchboard on the night shifts at a radio station.
They could only see each other in passing, so they left letters under one another’s doors in order to talk. To communicate.
They grew together in this way, and she wrote once I will always be thinking of you, even in dreams. ”That’s all that it took for your Grandpa,” she told me, “to know I was his.”
“He was a good man,” she would say, “he built this house,” and then she would point down to the floor in the kitchen where we sat. She would tell me that he was loving and affectionate and cared deeply for his three boys. I remember her looking at me and saying,” You would have loved him, he was such a good man,” and then taking an almond cookie from the plate, the same cookies that my friend Maggie Chien had introduced me to in middle school.
I remember sitting in my Grandmothers kitchen and talking to her about these things. And then sometimes we would just sit and listen to the sounds of the birds and the windchimes outside and then she would call her little dog, “Tiny! Tiny!,” she would say, and the little Pomeranian would jingle on over with his small head tilted to the side and his tongue sticking out from between his crooked teeth. The protector of her heart in the quiet moments.
I think about these things as I ride East on the 60 and down the 605 and then exit and make my way toward the cemetery. I come here less frequently now, but somehow it’s always on my mind.
I miss her, I think. I really do.
When I arrive, I turn the engine off and untie my bag from the rack and then make my way through the maze of headstones from different times and move in the direction of my Grandparents.