Little Lucia asked, “is that really him?”
“Si Mamo, that’s him,” Cousin Ricardo told her. “He just has lots of make-up on.”
We sat there for three hours in the chapel. We watched through watery vision as one by one the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren made closure with the sleeping man.
We watched as our own Papa walked up to him for the last time, kissed him on the forehead and said, “Good-bye, Pop.”
We watched as Mama Sonia, the pillar Matriarch, dropped a final tear onto his quiet body.
Later in the night, when the three of us girls were in bed, Em said, “Did you guys touch Papa Roger? I did. I touched his hand.”
I said, “you did? I couldn’t even go up there. What did he feel like? Was he cold?”
“He was cold, but he was really soft. He felt just like he always did. And his hands were folded together just like they always were.”
In bed, in the dark, I found myself putting my hands together like I imagine his were. And I started rubbing one thumb with the other, over and under, over and under, just like he used to. I fell asleep that way.
They buried him this morning by the golf course under the oak trees and a silvery canopy of Spanish moss. We three girls sang with my father and mother, “In the Sweet By and By,” and as Father Walsh prayed, we all heard softly in the background the swing of a golf club and a clean whack as it sent the ball flying. How fitting! Sweet dreams, our Papa Roger.