Kim and I dropped Maggie off at Lizzie’s house for a playdate and headed over to Mayfair Monuments. We’d been meaning to order Elena’s headstone for months and just hadn’t done it. The place was just a couple of blocks from where Kim grew up. We’ve driven past this little building for years on our way from our house to Kim’s parents house and back. This was our first time inside.
We rang the bell for admission and were let in by a woman who ushered us in to another woman’s office. There are decisions you have to make.
What kind of stone? What color? What size? What shape? What do you want the stone to say? What font do you want to use? Are there images you’d like?
Elena would have loved to have been consulted on these decisions but we thought such a discussion would have been many decades premature. Maggie, however, had helped us pick out the color, shape, and contents of the stone.
It turned out that she hadn’t been specific enough. Rose color could mean any of a half a dozen colors. We liked the more orangey-red stone.
We also knew that we wanted a rounded stone and that we wanted Elena’s full name to be on it. “Elena Maxine ChunXue Steinberg”. That’s a lot of writing. Underneath it we wanted her birth and death dates: March 3, 1999 and February 22, 2006. A lot of writing.
We wanted a picture of a rabbit. Elena was born in the year of the rabbit. We also had the Chinese characters for her Chinese name. A lot of writing.
Finally, we wanted a quote from Elena’s favorite song. It came to Kim and me and about the same time. The same line from the same song: “more to do than can ever be done”. That, of course, was too much writing for one stone.
Elena had also loved stones so I wanted some of the roughness of the stone to show. Lakeview doesn’t allow rough stone on the sides but they do allow some on the top. Monica sketched rough around the edges of the top with a shiny polished area under the lettering. The sides would be smooth and, we decided, unpolished. On the front would be the quote from the Lion King.
Monica called her sister Michelle in. Michelle does the artwork and layout. Michelle came back with a couple of rabbits and told us to bring in the Chinese characters for her. Kim asked her about forget-me-nots. Michelle brought in a couple of photocopies of a group of flowers and of a single one. Kim asked if she could sketch something with each of them.
Of all places, Kim and I disagreed on the font. She liked the ones with serifs and I liked the ones without. Unfortunately, the one I liked didn’t support upper and lower case lettering. Michelle offered to do a markup with both styles for when we came back.
Kim admired a picture of a stone they had done. It’s something that amazes me about my wife. Even there – even given what we were doing there – she notices extraordinary beauty and comments on it. The sisters were pleased and told us that it had begun with a statue that the deceased had owned of two kids playing. Their father had incorporated it into a beautiful monument that looked like two kids sculpted in metal scaling a stone wall. One of them was using the headstone of the deceased as a leg up.
It was beautiful and I would have missed it if it weren’t for Kim.
We paid a deposit for the headstone of our daughter gone nearly a year. We asked if it could be ready for the twenty-second. Monica wasn’t sure. Kim mainly wanted to make certain that if we missed that date that the headstone would not be delivered near Elena’s birthday. Monica made a note of it.