Sunday, January 10, 2010

Ray Carver's Funeral

Sam and I were invited to the celebration of Rays life. It consisted of two dramatic happenings. Or actually three. The first part was at 11AM. We arrived in a timely fashion and were asked to be seated in the part of of their house which normally functioned as the dining room. Chairs were lined up in rows and after we sat down we glanced in the direction of the living room. There in front of the fireplace was a four poster bed with Ray sitting, leaning on pillows, in what looked like a comfortable posture. A young man was sitting next to the bed, holding Ray's hand, and conversing with him in an, to us, inaudible voice. It was an emotional scene.

Ray's friends, his fellow writers, all stood up and read a short poem or story that was authored by Ray or by the reader. Richard Ford, who was a professor in Ames Iowa, was especially remembered. He looked like one of the charachters in the comic strips in the New Yorker. I asked him if anyone in Ames Iowa had told him of this and he said 'I do not think people in Iowa read the New Yorker.'

Ray's first wife was there and spoke of hers and Ray's love affair as being the one that would go down in history as the one and only. The young man holding Ray's hand when we arrived was Ray's and Maryann's son.

We left as soon as it was comfortable and were told that we were expected at the graveyard at 2PM. And to come back to the house afterwards. Sam had been told that he was having walking pneumonia and chose not to go to the graveyard were the cold wind was blowing. I asked our daughter nr3 to come with me and the same people who had spoken at the house spoke again. The site was unforgettable. The drama heart wrenching. The wind from the Pacific Ocean was icy. We left early. Jane who is a librarian knew all the dignitaries there.

We dropped in on the get together at Tess' house but by this time Tess looked so exhausted that we felt the nicest thing we could do for her was leave early, hoping some of the other people there would leave early too.

We did say good-by to Ray. Some time later I asked Tess if the whole funeral was something Ray and she had designed before he died, she said 'Ray never spoke of his dying. He always felt he would make it.'

1 comment:

Joe said...

Because of your posts, I'm going to get one of my Raymond Carver collections from the shelf and read a few stories. I'm wondering whether you've read any of his work and, if you have, what you thought of it.