Two sendoffs

Today is the memorial gathering in the Gazebo for Don Worthen.

Yesterday we attended the funeral of Maggie Ballesteros, Teresa Fisher’s sister in Paso Robles. She helped take care of Ian between one and three years old while Teresa worked. We saw her frequently during that period and got quite close.


She died of colon cancer, the same disease afflicting Teresa and her brother Art. Teresa urged us to come to the ceremony and sit in the front rows with the family.

It took place in the St. Rose Catholic Church, a large building with a huge crucifix and a realistic statue of crucified Jesus above the altar. First came a viewing of the body–bewigged and coated with a rainbow of different colored makeup. Then a two hour rosary and mass in both Spanish and English. Ian stayed with us for the first hour, drawing a picture of Maggie with wings, and saying he missed her. The sallow priest officiated in a low drone.
We got lost on the way to the cemetery and stopped at Starbucks for directions and espressos.

Back on track, we drove through a beautiful wrought iron gate marked 1892 down into a little hollow where a crowd stood by the open grave surrounded by the flat monuments of the family plot and half a dozen ancient Valley Oaks, leafless and silver trunked, casting dramatic shadows in the low January light. Art, who was put under hospice care the day after Maggie died, was brought to the graveside in a wheelchair. An eight-man mariachi band played mournful elegies while the children ran up and down the grassy hillside above the hollow or sat in groups on the flat gravestones. After one long Spanish song by an elder of the family, the huge casket was lowered into the ground, and adults and children lined up to drop handfuls of dirt brought from the old family ranch on top of it.

As the air got chillier, people got back into their cars, returned to the St. Rose Church, and met in the bright gymnasium for what turned into an amazing party. Here are few pictures.

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