The rain beat on the windshield as the wipers did their best to keep up. On a trip to Bakersfield to visit my grandmother, my mother and three children sang songs and played games as I did my best to drive in the storm. All of a sudden, through a crack in the clouds the sun burst through. A searcher of rainbows, I immediately started looking opposite the sun hoping for a brilliant surprise. I was not disappointed and pulled off the freeway as soon as I could. The children and I got out and ran in the rain while we pointed to the glorious colors streaming across the sky. My mother sat in the car and shook her head.
The day of my mother’s funeral, it drizzled from early morning. I had made plans that we would carry her casket to the burial spot. When the service was over and the doors were open, I looked in disbelief. The rain poured so hard that I couldn’t imagine so much water falling from the sky at any one time. I took a deep breath. The funeral director suggested that we might want to skip the burial and let their crew take over. It was a practical suggestion, one that I might have considered. But I didn’t. Couldn’t. This was my mother, in good times and bad, my only mother, her only funeral. We moved ahead with the plans as the manicured lawn took on the look of a shallow marsh, the squishy ground soaking our shoes with every step.
Dave, my brothers and my grown children, all carried the casket as I walked behind with the funeral director trying to protect us both with my umbrella. This felt like my mother’s idea of a bad joke. It was just like her, and I considered being annoyed. Instead, I said to myself, a rainbow would be nice, but rain is good, too.
Afterwards, everyone gathered at our home for an after-the-funeral get together to tell stories about Mom. As I set out the potato salad and the pastrami, ham, and cheese for sandwiches, my son called me to the window. Outside, there was a double rainbow, from horizon to horizon, dark on the outside and bright, like Oz, on the inside. I had never seen a rainbow so brilliant before.
When I told Joanna Chartrand about this, she said that given that my mother was new to death, she must have had help from the ancestors to make such a thing happen. My brother said that it was God’s blessing and nothing more. Philosophers say that we are meaning makers and that many a coincidence is nothing more than that. Truly, it doesn’t matter much to me who is right. In that moment, all felt forgiven. Old resentments, old hurts, my transgressions, and hers. My heart full, I finished setting out the food for this celebration of her life.
Cornelia Marie Greer (AKA Mom)
March 31, 1921 – February 18, 2010