Yesterday at the dinner table, Coco age 6, said, “Mama, the next time we go see Papa’s grave will his stone be there?”
“Yes. I think so,” I said.
“Will you take me to see it?” Coco said.
My father died in December. The last time we were at the cemetery the gravestone was ordered, but not yet delivered.
“Mama, when we go, can you take me over to see Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s stone, too.”
“Martin Luther King, Jr.?” I said.
“Yes. We studied him in school, and I want to see his marker too.”
Since M.L.K. is dead, and Papa is dead, six-year-old logic says that they must be buried in the same place. It makes perfect sense. I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news.
“Martin Luther King, Jr. isn’t buried in the same cemetery as Papa. His grave is in Atlanta, Georgia.”
“It is?” Coco said. “Have you been there?”
“Yes. I’ve seen it.” I said.
“Will you take me there someday?” Coco said.
“Yes,” I said. “Why?”
“I want to read his gravestone. It says, ‘Free at last. Free at last. Thank God, Almighty, I’m free at last.’”
When I was Coco’s age, Martin Luther King, Jr. won the Nobel Peace Prize. My Sunday school teacher, an older southern woman, told my class . . . well, I won’t repeat what she said about Dr. King and his prize. Even then, I knew that she was wrong. I went home and told my parents, and they confirmed that she was wrong.
I would like to point out that Coco is Chinese. I am not. Neither is my husband. At age six, Dr. King means something to Coco, even if she is a little confused about the logistics of his grave.