. . .

The price is just the cost. She didn’t understand it. The stipend they asked wasn’t all that much, considering the work involved. I told her that this was a thing between the men, and that was all the explanation there was. Delivering the headstone to the cemetery, pouring the concrete for the base and setting the stone could all be outsourced. But, that’s not how we do it. While dad set the wooden form for the base I inspected the row of markers.

Henry, my grandfather. Alzheimer’s.

Dolly, My aunt (but more like a grandmother). Complications from diabetes.

Roy Jr., my cousin. Auto accident.

David, my cousin. Cancer.

Ronnie, my cousin. Cancer.

And on and on. A litany of those who have died in the last decade. A line that is vanishing.

My uncle Roy, standing next to the graves of his three sons (all dead in the last four years) mixed the cement.

This was a thing between the men. She didn’t understand.

The price is too high.

Sunburned, exhausted, finished with placing the cap on my mother’s life, I went home and crawled back into my bottle.

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