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grave rubber



"May She Find Joy"


She stopped and dropped her bag to the ground, then herself.  She studied the stone.


Ada Ryan Spencer


March 21, 1931 - April 4, 2004


"May She Find Joy"


She rooted in her bag for a camera, snapped a pic.  Then she extracted a paintbrush and cleared an enormous bird dropping from the second E in Spencer.  It was so large it nearly obscured the 2 in 2004.  Once she cleared away the bird poop, she pulled a couple of weeds away from the base of the gray granite slab.  She felt grateful that no grieving family members had planted any flowers there.


From her roll of white butcher paper she cut a piece big enough to cover the entire grave stone.  She used masking tape to adhere it and chose a thick black crayon from a small box in her large bag.


She had little interest in the small cross on the upper right corner nor the bouquet of daisies in the left, but she captured it all in her rubbing.  It never felt right to only take a part of the decoration or a few words.  She was compelled to rub the entire stone.


She stood back.  Fine.  Over the years she had perfected the amount of pressure to apply.  She was, in essence, an expert grave rubber.


After removing the tape, she rolled the rubbing into a tube and slid it inside the roll of paper.  She headed home.




She fell fast asleep.  No tossing and turning for her.  Sleep came quickly, easily, as if her daytime was only preparation for night.


"Time of death: 23:12."


The nurse pulled the oxygen from the body's nose, unhooked the IV.  She pulled the sheet up to the shoulders.


"I'm sorry for your loss," the nurse addressed the middle-aged sisters in the tight room.


"Thank you," said Grace, her voice catching in her throat.


The nurse left the room.


Grace turned to Hope.  "Ding dong the witch is dead."


Hope smiled even as her eyes filled with tears.


"Oh, stop," said Hope.  "Think she'll manage to find some happiness, now?"


"Doubt it," replied Grace.


"But we can," said Hope.  "Finally.  No more complaints.  No more questions about Joy - Where is she?  Why did she leave?"


"What did I do to make her hate me so much?" said Grace with exaggerated drama.


"God, didn't you always want to just answer that one?!" said Hope.


"Yup, all the time." Grace sat down in a visitor's chair.  "So."


"Buttons," said Hope.


Grace grimaced at her.


"Sorry," said Hope.  "Old habits die hard."


"As did Mom," said Grace.  "So, do we tell Joy?"


"Don't imagine she'll care."


"She gave up on Mom years ago."


Faith sighed, leaned back in the chair and put her feet up on the recliner across from her.


Hope picked up Faith's feet, sat in the recliner and replaced Faith's feet on her lap.


"She might want to know," said Faith.


"Sure, tell her then," said Hope.  "No harm.  Mom would want her to know, for sure.  She was the only one Mom really cared about, anyway."


"She only cared about her," said Faith, "because she wasn't here.  We've always been here.  We're not interesting to her."


The sisters sat, staring at their mother's body.


"Why was it she was never happy," said Hope, "I wonder."


"She was happy being miserable.  Gave her purpose."


Hope smiled.  "Ha!"


"What?" said Faith.


"I've thought of the perfect epitaph for her gravestone."


"She didn't want one," said Faith.


"She's dead," said Hope.  "Seems it's our decision now.  And I have the perfect one."




"'May she find Joy.'"


The sisters dissolved into great fits of laughter mixed with sobs of pain.

13 Comment count
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Happy Being Miserable

Powerful, Jodi.

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Thanks, Sue. Although it's

Thanks, Sue. Although it's fiction, I know someone like that. Makes it hard to be happy around them.

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This is really interesting. I like the picture of the grave rubber. The detail engages me. Nice. Mares

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Thanks, Mares. It's just the

Thanks, Mares. It's just the beginning of a larger piece I've been thinking about for a while.  I just wanted to try it out, but as a stand alone, I realize the grave rubber might seem disjointed. My father, a 41-year telephone company man, loved cemeteries and grave stones, so I tend to read them, too. I'll never forget the faux sheetcake with the blue birds holding up the receiver of a phone. In faux icing it read: Jesus called. 

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Congrats Jodi!

Congrats Jodi!

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Thanks, Mares! Was a nice

Thanks, Mares!
Was a nice surprise on a really good day!

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Well, you deserve it J.

Well, you deserve it J. mares

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Well done, Jodi,

Spoke to me of the tears & laughter of grumpy old Mums. RJ (Rebecca)

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Thanks, RJ!  And congrats

Thanks, RJ! 

And congrats to you, fellow featured spring blogger! 

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Congratulations, Jodi!

Unfortunately, I know exactly where you are coming from with this one. Love the taut, spare writing.

Your prize is at this moment winging its way to you (whether you like it or not!:)

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Thanks, Rosy! Sorry you know

Thanks, Rosy!

Sorry you know where I'm coming from. :( 

It's a prize and a book - how could I not like it?!  

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Dear Jodi, Your sparse story

Dear Jodi,
Your sparse story "Grave Rubber," captures the life of a complainer and the dynamics of the relationship between a mother and three sister. Even the sister who is not in the room is very much present and her presence is felt through her absence. Then the lovely, telling line; "she is the only one mom really cared about anyhow," Wow! Thank you, it is a compelling narrative; I look forward to more.


Rose Offner

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Thank you, Rose. I

Thank you, Rose. I appreciate your careful reading. You get it completely! I haven't been writing much lately, though. I had some ideas when this was written for more vignettes similar to the one above, but never wrote them. Perhaps I'll dig out my notes sometime soon. Thank you, again, for reading!