When we traveled to Buenos Aires to visit my husband's family, we discussed going to visit his bubbe's gravesite. On the one hand, Alex did not want to deal with the emotional buzzkill, but on the other, he wanted to pay his respects. Nevertheless, the fact that the cemetery was a major schlep convinced us not to go.
Fast forward to the second to last day of our trip. Alex reverses course and decides we should visit the cemetery. Where I come from, a visit to my deceased relatives entails driving no more than 20 to 30 minute on city streets. Once inside, it's a two minute walk max to any grave stone. Not so with Alex's dearly departed. The cemetery where his bubbe is interred is at least an hour away. Taxis won't go out there, and even if they did, they would get lost because of the sheer size of the place. To make matters worse, it opens for only a few hours a day. Thus, you must go with someone who already knows exactly where the gravesite is or you need a detailed map. Or, you can do what we did. We signed up for a special car service the local JCC offers that takes the bereaved to the Jewish cemetery and back.
Alex's aunt Claudia arranged the driver and had someone draw us a map. We were on a very tight schedule. The driver was supposed to pick us up at 2:00, and the cemetery closed at 4:00. Figuring the drive there would take an hour, we had one hour to find the gravesite and pay our respects.
The clock struck 2:00 and we were already on shpilkes. At 2:20, as Claudia got on the phone to cancel the trip, the driver arrived. They say that you can tell a lot from first impressions. Indeed, all the clues were there from the very beginning. The driver's car was a model that Stateside can only be legally used in demolition derbies. And the driver was so old he could have been an extra in a zombie movie without any added makeup. Or perhaps more apropos to his role, a murderous hearse driver from a B horror flick.
The sun was mercilessly beating down on us that day, and I was dripping with sweat as I finished installing Aiven's car seat. We piled in and poor Aiven immediately started to scream. Alex was up in front with the relic, who, deaf to my son's wails, began to talk without pausing to breathe. He promised us the AC would kick in soon. So off we went. At 10 miles per hour.
Seriously. I am not exaggerating. Our driver was a one man traffic jam, completely oblivious to the heat, the crying, and the road. As other drivers swerved around us we wondered if we would make it to the cemetery alive. The car putt putted along, the AC did not crank on, and the driver would not shut up. He was glib, cheerful, and patently moronic. He asked invasive questions prefaced with "I know it's none of my business but" or "I know it's not my place as a driver to ask but". He made false promises about the AC and our expected time of arrival. He faked concern for us but surely the only thing he cared about was hearing his own voice. When he took a phone call on his cell phone, Alex asked him politely to hang up so he would pay attention to the road. He talked for another minute or so.
For close to half an hour, I did my best. To withstand the heat. To soothe my baby. To pretend we were making progress when we hadn't really traveled more than a mile. But it was futile.
My wonderful husband read the warning signs that I was about to rip out the driver's throat, reassessed the situation, and made an executive decision. With it becoming apparent we would never arrive at the cemetery before it closed, he aborted the mission. The driver had the chutzpah to ask for partial payment, and I am so glad that Alex did not translate this for me. I know where I would have put his pesos.
After we got back to Claudia's apartment and cooled off, she said something to Alex in Spanish that I did not understand. I then said, "I don't think your bubbe wanted us to visit the cemetery." Alex laughed. His aunt had just said the exact same thing.
Going to the cemetery one day would be a nice gesture, but nothing more--Alex and I feel our bubbes are with us all the time. We don't believe our bubbes would want us spending time crying over a stone. They prefer us to be laughing with our son. And we like to think they can hear us.