Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Arcade Fire, Funeral (2004)

I listened to this album yesterday evening while eating a big heap of chicken. I thought I had already listened to it recently, but it turns out I hadn't.

The music seemed familiar, though. I'm sure I've heard the bulk of the songs from this album play on Tracy Ross' show on WKMS. Now as then, I can't recall any of the songs distinctly. Each track blends into the next. But no matter. Good dinner music.

This past weekend, I was unavailable to take your call. I had left my phone at home and gone to the countryside to visit my grandmother-in-law. There, we planted oriental raisin trees on farm land newly bought by my father-in-law.

By the way, on the process of planting, I pulled my back. The night before last, I woke up screaming in pain. If it isn't one thing, it's another, isn't it? We've got to take care of ourselves.

While out there on the new farm land, I noticed two big blue slabs of rock. After planting, we all sat on those rock slabs and with a portable gas grill we grilled and ate pork belly. Sitting there on the stones overlooking the land with the raisin trees sticking up in the ground, little more than twigs in sandy soil, I recalled Matthew 21:42: as for the stone the builders rejected, this same has become the cornerstone. My father-in-law was able to buy the land for cheap, having seen something in it nobody else had seen. Looking over the land, I could see some of what he must have seen. Potential.

Earlier that day, when we had arrived at Grandmother's house, we met Grandmother's friend, who was just leaving. This woman, though she didn't look it, was over 100 years old. She was extremely apologetic, saying since we had arrived, she had to go, because she understood how difficult it must have been for all of us, two generations of family members, to come out there. Of course it wasn't difficult at all. I said as much as politely as I could and told her she didn't have to go. But no, she did, she said. She patted my hand. Something about her sincerity brought tears to my eyes.

Then Grandmother turned to her friend and said she wasn't the only woman who ought to rejoice when family comes around. Didn't she, the friend, have two daughters of her own, after all, and didn't they visit often? 

"You're right," the friend said.

"How old is your youngest, anyway?" Grandmother asked.

"I can't remember," the friend said.

"How about your eldest daughter?" Grandmother asked.

"I don't know, but she's in her 80s."

Grandmother, incidentally, is in her 80s. This was the first day I had seen her so lively. And I was taken aback by the fact that the woman she was speaking to, her friend, was of her mother's generation. To the friend, Grandmother was a young woman.

The thought shook me a little. When I turned to my in-laws, I saw how young they were. We're all still so young, I thought, me, my wife, my in-laws.

On the car ride home, I told my wife that something I found amazing about the old woman was that while she was talking with me, the thought never seemed to enter her mind that I was a foreigner. Her attitude toward me was not only anti-prejudicial, it was beyond even the thought of prejudice. This was a woman who had seen everything. She's been here since before the war. No telling what she has seen.

This aging thing is bittersweet. I was listening to a podcast the other day and one of the guests said time is the thief of memory. Maybe it's not so bad to forget some things, though, like disasters and hardships and war. Grudges, too. I could stand to forget a few of those. Forgetfulness can be as good as forgiveness.


  1. Here’s to forgetting. Hopefully forgetting about back pain one day.

    1. Same for you and your aches and pains. You take care of yourself.