by Mohur Sidhwa
[Note: Mohur sent this to me days ago, and I kind of lost it in the ether. My apologies. However, though the event she describes, Jorge Luis Garcia's funeral, happened a little while ago, her observations remain fresh. David]
I had expected the local media to cover one of the more remarkable events Tucson has witnessed in a long time. It did not. So here is an account of the closest thing to a state funeral I have attended.
Last Friday saw the funeral at Saints Peter and Paul Parish for Senate Minority Leader, Jorge Luis Garcia. He died in office. He was 57.
I got there early. I noted current and former office holders milling around and greeting each other as new arrivals entered. We all seemed to know each other to one degree or another. Among early arrivals were current and former LD-26 legislators Toni Hellon, Pete Hershberger, Nancy Young Wright and Charlene Pesquiera, and county recorder F. Ann Rodriquez.
Then suddenly the double doors opened and I saw a procession of people enter. They all looked familiar though a bit out of context. Took me a moment to realize that almost the whole legislature from Phoenix had bussed in. Both sides of the aisle. Most of the statewide leadership included. I also noted a number among them I did not recognize. I was informed they were the legislative staffers. Current and former staffers had trickled in from other counties.
The service began. Wet cheeks and quivering jaws. There was little to distinguish many members from the two sides of the aisle at that moment. They were allowing their humanity to show.
Governor Brewer sat up front, Congressman Grijalva slipped in quietly and sat at the back.
From the arrival of the coffin to the music of the Mariachis, to a service that was simple, it was a remarkable event. There was no motorcade. The reception afterwards too was simple. The whole reflected the quiet and effective dignity of the man.
After the service I again noticed the former legislators greeting other each other. Some current legislators were hugging former legislators from the other side of the aisle. They were conversing and catching up.
Upon reflection over the past few days, what struck me was the genuine affection that was shown by former legislators from both sides of the aisle to each other. In spite of their obvious differences and heated battles, their loyalty to Arizona did frequently manage to sneak over their loyalty to their own careers or party. They were leaders.
Jorge Luis Garcia was perhaps one of the most effective legislators. His quiet good judgment and willingness to share his time with the least among us will be missed.