Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Fulfilling a Wish

The ceremony for Bob Rhinesmith was a quick and private affair in Buffalo, Wyoming's local cemetery. Bea (his wife at the end of his life) had arranged to have a portion of Bob's cremains buried in a plot next to Frank "Dutchie" Schmitz who was the man who raised him. My step-brother Pat was as eloquent as usual in these difficult circumstances, painting a clear and present picture of the man for everyone. I was reminded of how effective speakers wrap their words around a few simple points, and Pat does that as well as anyone I know.

I could only bring myself to say a few words, overcome as usual with the emotion of the moment. Frankly, I suck at eulogies - it seems pointless to try to sum up all the memories of a person in that manner.

As the ceremony ended, we all turned as an antelope walked through the cemetery about 50 yards behind the group. What was it thinking we were thinking?

It was about lunchtime and the consensus was to have some food and browse Bob's history in downtown Buffalo (which is about 4 blocks long in actuality). In the late '40's, he'd owned the Buffalo Bar which is now an artisan gallery, and a hotel called the Idyllwild.

Bobby and Pam Rhinesmith spent some formative years living in the apartments above the bar. Bobby recalled with a twinkle in his eye sneaking down the stairs in the late evenings to watch the rough men smoke, drink and play poker until closing time.

In the early afternoon, we started on the road to Cody, WY and into the Bighorn Mountains where Bob expressly wanted his ashes spread.

A lifetime, in a handful of gritty gray ash I hold. The harder I squeeze, the less compression I can feel. The ashes are dense. My arm arcs, sweeping across my view of the Bighorn Mountains as I release the powder and whisper "Thanks" to Bob and the memory of what he meant to me. The ashes drift slowly down on the beautiful vista that he will forever overlook.

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