There we were kneeling at the edge of the violet purple velvet ropes. My grandfather had died and I’d only seen him twice. Once when my family “visited” Florida and just happened to stop by his small condominum by the poolside. The second time he came to California, but we had to tell my grandmother to be out of town that weekend, as they weren’t on talking terms, something about him cheating on her when they had three small children and she hated him for life.
He had died from a heart attack, and his new wife was Catholic, and she made us kneel. The priest placed a small white wafer on my tongue and then gave each of us a small glass of wine. I chugged mine down as the wafer made my mouth dry. The wine burned down my nine-year-old throat and had to do everything in my power to not spit the dry bitter liquid all over the priest and my grandfather’s casket. I kneeled there throughout the entire ceremony with a grimace on my face, not knowing what kind of juice the priest had tried to poison me. My grandfather’s new wife was a fat dumpy character, who ate cream donuts wrapped in sticky cellopane and always had a look of distain on her piggy face. My mom choked back the wine, and looked down at me to drink mine, but by that time, I had already swallowed down the wine.
The church began to spin and grow hazy. I felt like laughing, at the priest who looked hot in his robes, at the new wife in her too tight pink suit (I thought this was a funeral…), at my step-uncle who eyes were glazed over and he kept tapping his leg so a quiet “ping-ping-ping” could be heard from his general direction, and his wife, an expressive woman that would yell and scream in your face to get her way. I wondered where all this family had come from, why they just suddenly appeared now, but the one connection to them was dead. My grandfather slept serenely in his casket, his nails all manicured and he looked like he mocked all of us, kneeling there in the church, our legs all asleep. No one was crying, just quietly chugging down their small portions of wine at communion.