I am going to tell this story backwards.
This is what I saw as I left the Roundhouse in Yosemite. It was a welcomed relief after spending time in the Roundhouse with a hundred other people with the outside temperature being over 100 degrees Fahrenheit and with a nice hot fire blazing in the middle of the Roundhouse. Sweat was running over the fat slopes of my upper torso. My bottom half was a puddle, perhaps a small lake.
In the Roundhouse I listened as family and friends celebrated the life of an amazing man. A Miwok Indian, he lived his entire life in and around Yosemite. Our paths crossed when I was a toddler living in the same Indian village in Yosemite as he did. He operated the snow plow for 35 years as he cleared the deep snow over Tioga Pass in Yosemite. He was a man’s man. An excellent skier, hunted on horseback around Mono Lake, and he deeply loved his wife, an expert basket weaver, and his entire family. He taught them courage and kindness. He believed in learning from one’s mistakes. Stories were shared about his life and Indian songs were offered. He is greatly missed. He was a great man with a great family who lived a great life. It was an honor to be there. I did think a few times, “Damn, it is pretty hot in here.”
With a 92 year old woman, who I did not know, sitting in the front seat with her lap dog, Lilly, and my 82 year old cousin in the back seat, I drove along the Merced River heading toward Yosemite from Mariposa. Lilly’s owner, was a delight. She worked in Yosemite for many years, knew my great grandmother very well. Lilly’s owner knew everybody in Yosemite because she worked in the Yosemite post office. In fact, as I found out later, Lilly’s owner was loved by all who knew her. I could see why. She exuded love with a sense of humor. My cousin is her home health worker and told me just moments before that we would have an older person with us on this journey. The dog was an extra surprise, but I am often surprised when in Mariposa.
We dropped off a platter of cupcakes, that my cousin baked, at a lodge in Mariposa. Four ladies were setting up tables for a celebration of life service. A thirty year old man, struggling with alcoholism and recently breaking up with his girlfriend, had committed suicide. His photos, his record albums, his books, his favorite belongings were used as table decorations. Getting into the truck, my cousin said to me, “You know those four ladies in there? They all have lost children to suicide.” Oh my God, I thought, drugs, alcoholism, poverty, depression are a crisis in rural America.
It was good to see my cousin. Her driveway was just a few feet behind another driveway. Being 13 years older than me, she said I was her real life doll when I was a baby. She said she and my grandmother wept when my father took me away from them. She also told me to start loading trays of cupcakes into my truck. She said today was going to be a 2 funeral day and she needed to drop off some cupcakes at the first one before heading up to Yosemite.
My cousin often told me that she lived on the last house before entering into the town of Mariposa – that was just down the hill. She also gave me her address which I put in my cellphone. As I reached the location, I quickly got out of my truck, knocked on her front door. I needed to go to the bathroom- quickly. Nobody answered, but I could hear guitars playing so I just opened the door to my cousin’s house and proceeded to look for her bathroom, as I hollered “Hello!” I opened a door which was indeed the bathroom and two twenty something young men were practicing playing their guitars in the bathroom. I said, “Hey guys, I need to use the bathroom right now!” They looked confused but were very compliant and polite and gathered their stuff and left. Finished with my personal emergency, I went out to the living room and said, “Where is Bev?” They kept looking at me kind of in an odd way and said “She’s down the hill.” Thinking down the hill meant she was in town just below her house I said, “Why is she in town? She knew I was coming. We are headed up to Yosemite for a celebration of life service. One of the nice young men, still looking bewildered, said, ” No, she does not live here. Her house is behind us, down the hill.” I paused for a moment to connect all the dots. I had just walked into a stranger’s house, kicked two residents out of their bathroom, and used their bathroom. All I could say was, “Well you boys sound great. Keep practicing! Take care and thanks for your bathroom. I’ll be on my way now.”