January 15th, 2020

love a nerd

LJI - wild goose chase

No one knew where my uncle was buried until my morbid tendencies kicked in. I figured that with a name like Elva Siler, his final resting place wouldn't be hard to find.

Forest Lawn, Hollywood Hills. Also the final resting place of many celebrities, and a large number of normal folks who just happened to have the money to be buried at a place as famous as Forest Lawn Hollywood.

My great aunt and great uncle never had their own children, but they both came from large families. My uncle, my grandmother's brother, was raised by a widow, who had to become a sharecropper and put her children to work in the cotton fields after her husband died, leaving her not only with their eleven chileren, but also the two older ones he'd had with his first wife.

The cemetery is beautiful, set on rolling hills and complete with a gift shop and florist, as well as a funeral office that David Fisher would have coveted.

I buy my flowers (gaudy orange carnations, the cheapest ones in the fragrant shop) and ask the thickly accented woman at the front desk where Elva Siler and Elizabeth Siler are buried. She gives me a map, highlights a path, and might as well have said "may the odds always be in your favor."

I retreat back to the car, flowers and map in hand, and try to direct my husband where we need to go. The map is upside down, so left is right and right is left, and he's in the Moments to Remember section, wherever that is.

Finally, after driving through the cemetery we think we might have found the spot. No celebrities up here, though. Lots of Russians. The view looks down into the San Fernando Valley, and I audibly gasp. Imagine this view for eternity.

The caretaker is polishing the wall behind us, and we finally break down and ask him for help. He knows the exact place. Bingo bango. I lay down the flowers and get on my knees.

"Hi, Uncle Elva," I begin. "I'm Mike's daughter. Ileana's granddaughter. We're here to go to Disneyland but I wanted to visit you first. Remember when we visited you in the hospital in 1995? The prom episode of Friends aired that night..."

On and on I talk. The grass is cool and damp.

I look at his stone.

"E. A. Siler, 1914-1998. A Good Man".

You can't ask for more than that.