“What is the petial light?” I asked Grandma as we stood over my father’s grave and prayed. The twisted cedar tree seemed to lean closer. Surely it wondered the same thing.
Grandma made the sign-of-the-cross and saved my eternal soul from the damnation I was inviting with my question.
Grant eternal rest unto the faithful departed, oh Lord, and may the ‘petial’ light shine upon them.
I had a long history of asking uncomfortable theological questions, like when I asked Sister Ascierno what an Immaculate Conception was.
“Did you mean to say the ‘perpetual’ light, Grandma?”
My grandmother’s response was silence, but it spoke volumes. It said, “I have been saying this prayer since I was a child and I said it over the graves of 9 siblings, two husbands, and two children. If anyone knows how to say this prayer, I do!”
Back in my car she asked me to sing Edelweiss in bastardized German. “You know, that song is about Austria, not Germany.”
She looked straight ahead. “You’re a smartass.”