Judge passed last Friday.
Yesterday, I drove Hwy. 58 to Bakersfield to be at his Rosary and his funeral.
Why highway 58, you might ask. It is slower, windier, and, in summer, not very pretty.
But it has the buffalo.
The ones he told me about long ago.
I, of course, did not believe him. There are no buffalo in Santa Margarita or just outside of it. But I took the route back then.
I didn't see any buffalo.
I told him he was pulling my leg. Just like my brothers and the cherry tree. You see, my brothers told me that there was a cherry tree on the pitcher's mound in our backyard. There was no pitcher's mound and no cherry tree. But they made me feel real stupid as they insisted that there was a pitcher's mound and a cherry tree and I was just blind not to see it. It was a running joke on me from the age of 2 to about 5 when I finally figured out they were making fun of me.
But Judge insisted that there WERE buffalo and that I should keep using that route and I would eventually see them.
And I did. And I took pictures and sent them to him. Laughing the whole time. He just said, "I told you so".
He didn't tease me. He never put me down.
He was brother, father, confidant, friend and mentor.
So I took Highway 58 for him. And the buffalo were there.
So was the San Andreas fault.
That was another thing he told me I would not only see but drive right over. And that is what I did.
And then I drove into the valley. I had called it Mordor once and he found that quite funny and very true. Nothing but oilwells and sage. For miles. With the summer heat to match.
All of these places reminded me of him. He told stories about all of them. And I will never hear them again.
He will not wear his black robe again.
So I sat through a Rosary. And I sat through a Mass. He was Catholic and the rituals were followed.
As for me, the ritual was covering the land that he loved to talk about. Remembering the things that we shared.
I said goodbye in his way and I said goodbye in my way.