Jerry came with us the next day.
You should have seen him hacking and slashing his way through the weeds and briars with a machete.
When he saw your picture on the headstone, he was crying.
"I found you brother and I'm getting you out of here."
We tied a shirt in the top of a tree to mark the spot.
You'd be proud of Jerry. He hasn't had a drink since March 17, 2007. That's exactly 30 years from St. Patrick's Day 1977, the day you died. His daughter bailed him out of jail and something she said helped him get through the anniversary of your death without a drink. I think having that date in common with you gave him something to hold onto. He's still holding on.
February 20, 2016
Jerry and his sons, Patrick and Casey, met the gravedigger today.
Remember how you use to call him "Worm" and make him stand up for himself. Well, Jerry stood up for you today.
The roots came up slowly not wanting to let go of the red clay that held them, and you, in blood and earth.
I remember you...
And laughing, always laughing.
You slapped your leg when you laughed.
I slap my leg when I laugh, too.
Your new home beside Mama in Ashelawn Gardens of Memory in Asheville.
The gravedigger said he put the red earth back in the hole left by your empty grave. Some of it went with you, stuck in the cracks of your vault and in the crevices of your headstone the way it gummed up under our nails and stained our clothes, stained everything we did.
It's okay. Red earth connects us.
We are red earth.