My Fresh Hell
Life in Scribbletown.

A Farewell to Ruby

2006-01-06
On Monday, when my husband and I were digesting the bad news and discussing what, when, and if, to tell Dusty, he reminded me that her preschool (which was closed that day) played NPR during naptime. My stomach dropped as I realized what she might hear about the horror, via the Damned Media, and I brought two Shanghai Quartet CDs with us on Tuesday morning. Explained to her teacher what the deal was and asked that she please, if just for a day or so, play the CDs instead of the news. She did. SQ was a big hit. Whew, another close one. I won't even go into WHY they play NPR for 4 and 5 year olds during their nap but it sure beats videos so I'm not ready to tackle that little battle yet. One general result is that Dusty always knows what the weather's supposed to be the next day. She also knows the names of all the local DJs and news reporters. Is that a bonus? Who knows.

So. The service yesterday. It was….how you say?……..churchy. Yes, churchy. Which makes sense because we were, indeed, inside an old Presbyterian church. Dusty knows we only end up in churches for two reasons: weddings and funerals. Sadly, we were there for the latter.

First, though, because it took much less time to get into the city than I'd anticipated, we stopped by our old house in my favorite neighborhood. Our first house. It looked nice even though my multi-colored garage had been re-painted white. No class, these current owners. Go here to my husband's site, enter and click on Photo Gallery. The first picture is our garage. Was our garage. There are other photos showing Dusty, Red and Moi near the end of the sequence should you be at all interested in such a thing – there's even a fairly recent (Thanksgiving) photo of the lot of us. Do not mock me, I am a Woman Undone.

Then, we drove past her Beloved Preschool which was callously put up for sale just before Christmas because Cashing in on Free Real Estate is the Reason for the Season. At least as far as that pack of Episcopalians are concerned. Is it any wonder I'm a godless heathen?

After fitting my modestly-sized car into the world's smallest parking garage filled with spaces made for sub-Mini Coopers (I kid you not! We could barely open the doors to get out!), we walked down to the main city library to check out the renovated children's section. Nice, very nice. There were two Indian women, who clearly had a tenuous grasp on the English language, there with their sons. As Dusty and I left, they were opening the door to the boy's restroom, for their sons, which was marked "Boys" in English and Spanish. Which may have left these particular women at a bit of a loss. So, while Richmond was doing its best to be inclusive of its patrons, it missed the mark just a smidgen.

This trend of failed true inclusiveness continued at the church. Especially considering the family being mourned were also apparently heathens. Joining the Nurse Betty-like forthright female pastor of the church was a local rabbi. The smugness oozed from the pastor's pores as she introduced the rabbi; she was being diverse and inclusive and open to all God's creatures (which clearly does not include me) by inviting a member of the Other Religion to join in on the service. Well done.

The organ music brought Dusty to tears but seeing a few of her old friends and teachers perked her back up and while we were both very sad, and many tears were shed, I'm glad we went. Nothing about the church experience made Dusty rethink our atheist stance, I'm happy to say. She noticed that while I stood and sat, stood and sat, at appropriate intervals, I did not join in on the singing. I just simply can't even pretend to utter phrases I do not believe. I told her that it was important, while we were in someone's church (or what have you – place of worship), to be respectful of the protocol (all the standing and sitting), but it wasn't necessary to feel compelled to repeat the phrases, say the Lord's Prayer, sing the songs just for show. We respect them, they should respect us, right?

And, so we went home. The day was filled with amazing Dusty insights and discussions. She's a swell kid. Here's a sampling:

On our way to preschool that morning, a heavy fog hung low over the world:
"It's so foggy, it's like the trees are sad shadows."

There was a lot of discussion about what she was going to do as an adult, job-wise:
"Look, a school bus! Can I be a bus driver when I grow up?"
"Sure. You can be whatever you want."
"Well, but I really want to be a construction worker."
"Okay. You can do that."

Following a conversation in which she expressed her excitement at starting kindergarten in the fall:
"But, you know, I don't even need to go to kindergarten."
"Why?"
"Well, I can already count up to one thousand and nine. I did it during naptime today. And, I can already read."

On our way to the library:
"Ruby will never be five."
"No, she won't."

Earlier in the week, we'd had a discussion about Frankenstein and his neck bolts. What were the neck bolts for? I told her the basic story of Dr. Frankenstein and his monster and how Hollywood added the bolts, how he (she naturally thinks of the monster as Frankenstein) was really just one body with a new brain, how the neck bolts suggest his head was screwed on to another body, how the scientist in the story wanted to see if he could bring a dead person back to life:
"Can scientists make Ruby and her family come back to life?"
"No."
"Well, they could if they invented fairies."

And, finally, as we were entering the highway on our way home:
"When I grow up I'm going to be rich."
"That's good," I laughed.
"Why is it good?"
"Because you can take care of me when I'm old and poor."
"You're funny!"

Funny ha-ha or funny sad?

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2:29 p.m. ::
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