In the midst of making your funeral arrangements,
David asks me what I want from the house.
“Maybe the piano,” I say.
“But it’s in such bad shape. So out of tune.
I need to hire a piano tuner first
Before I move it.”

So then the funeral director says to us
(You know him–the ironically cheerful one)
“I know a piano tuner. But you wouldn’t want him.
He’s a whack job.
He sticks his head in here before every funeral and
Asks, ‘Is there a meal?’
If I say ‘no,’ he leaves. If the answer’s yes, he stays.
What people won’t do for free food, right?”

So at this point (you would have loved this part),
The three of us ask, “Is his name Eddie O?”
“Same guy,” he says, and, amid prayer cards and casket choices,
we all have a good laugh at this.
(I can hear you chuckling now)
Remember that he’s the same one who spent 3 hours tuning the
piano 35 years ago, who had mommy serving him rounds
of orange juice as he lounged on the sofa, sweat beading on his forehead?
And you, too, knew him and you knew his father and you knew his tricks,
one of an array of characters you also served.

So (you definitely will love this part-too bad you missed the fun)
On the day of (but you were there, weren’t you?)
He comes and stays, looking surprisingly sporty in his piano scale tie.
But this time he doesn’t have to ask if there is a meal
Because he knows us and knows we will do the right thing for you.
(the pencil points were just spicy enough)

And he stays some more.
And as I, bereaved only daughter, leave for home,
he sits there still by himself, doggy bag in hand, surveilling,
turkey vulture perched on the rim of a chair in the corner,
waiting for carrion,
poised for me to let him know exactly when he
should come to tune my wracked piano (though we both know that will never happen).

And I can hear you laughing now and loving this story. One final quirk.

What some people won’t do for a free meal, right?

Kathleen A. Blake has been an English teacher and tutor in the Princeton area for more than 40 years. She currently lives in Yardley, Pennsylvania, where she loves to read, write, teach, and grow.

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