Today was my grandmother's funeral, and I got up this morning, got LO ready for summer camp and then ran an errand to find some yellow roses and got ready for the funeral. I got dressed in a black dress that I've had since, LO was very little, I mapped out where I needed to go, with a real map rather than mapquest, which couldn't find the church and then went off.
It was a beautiful day, not that warm in the morning and I was glad to not be at work.
I drove to where the funeral was being held (waved as I passed by work), drove through the shithole that is Norristown, PA. Some jackass jackknifed his tractor trailer, so me and some other folks got to take a detour and saw a spraypainted on plywood covering a window tribute of a simple "We'll miss you nigga".
Drove a bit more north and found my way to the church easily. I got out of the car and there was an elderly lady who got out of her car and held back as I went into the church. Walked into the mid-1970s styled church with brown brick accents in the sanctuary, saw my eldest aunt and my uncle and my other aunt and her three kids. One other cousin was there with her family. And there were an elderly great aunt of mine who was there with my dad's cousin, a (as I found out later) long lost cousin of my dad's, an "uncle" of mine who is really the brother of my uncle, and some elderly ladies. My eldest aunt asked where my parents were and I just shrugged and said "Don't wait for them". My brother (who I guilted into coming via a phone call on Wednesday) walked in just before the service. My sister wasn't there (she couldn't get a flight back to her home tomorrow), but as it turned out, none of the grandchildren living in Florida (I have two other cousins there) didn't attend either.
The service started on time, the pastor (who knew my grandmother for years) was good and noted that it was painful to watch someone "fade away" over a number of years but we should be comforted now that we know she's in heaven. The service was evangelical lutheran, a lutheran branch which I hadn't known even existed - and it was pretty hard core service which had more than a few similarities to a catholic service. At one point, the group says "I believe in a holy catholic church." I started crying during the service when the group started singing "Rock of Ages" - at first, the few elderly ladies in the audience started singing it and it sounded so sad. As per my grandmother's wishes, there was a single yellow rose by her urn.
After the service, my brother and I wound up talking with nearly everyone who was in the church and we were asked about our folks (we shrugged) and I was asked about LO. One elderly lady came up to me and told me that she was friends with my grandmother and would go check on her when she was living in her old home. Another approached me and told me the reason why she was there was because whe she started going to the church, she would sit by my grandmother and another friend. I was touched by that. Managed to chit chat with relatives and my brother said his goodbyes as he had to return to work.
We made our way to a restaurant nearby and with a little delay and some chatting with a second cousin who I remember as a baby and works in marketing now, had a luncheon. I sat with my younger aunt, her three kids (my cousins who I haven't talked to in years but heard plenty of gossip about), my dad's aunt and her daughter and my dad's long lost cousin. We were in a little room with the others who straggled over, and the others spread out to other tables, so I didn't get to hang out with my eldest aunt or my cousin with her family all that much. Basically had an interesting time hanging out with my cousins - one is an ER nurse and pregnant with her second child, the other works at the pentagon as a electrical contractor and another works as a sales rep, hearing stories from my aunt and catching up with the long lost cousin.
Lunch was done, the group said our goodbyes (a few people told me to say hi to my mother) and my youngest aunt with her three kids were going to the cemetary to bury my grandmother's urn in the family plot. My eldest aunt and her husband didn't go. I said I would go with with my younger aunt and I followed my one cousin who was driving like a maniac - the hour and some to the cemetary. It was bittersweet as we passed by landmarks that marked my grandmother's life (and in a way, mine too). Thank goodness we were traveling early enough that certain roads were not that bad although my cousin was driving on the left lane that was getting resurfaced and I heard that real loud thanks to my low profile tires.
We drove to, well what was once a bustling town at the turn of the 20th century and now is a victim of urban blight, and made our way to the cemetary. There were some beautiful old now neglected townhouses that we passed on the way. We arrived at the plot and to our surprise, my aunt's ex-husband was waiting for us - he had driven all the way up from NC to see my grandmother buried. The funeral director was there to make sure things were ok. And the flowers I had bought earlier in the day, tried valiantly but didn't make it out of my car as my car was hot and they looked horrible by the time we arrived. My grandmother didn't want a graveside service, so we took turns saying a memory about my grandmother. My aunt talked about christmastime as a kid, being a little girl and getting her hair done with my grandmother and a story about getting smacked for admitting that that she was "studying biology" with a boy in his car when she was in high school. She started crying after that. I started crying when she cried and when it came my turn to talk, I couldn't. My aunt and one of my cousins comforted me as we listened to the others speak, and I calmed down enough to say something about a photo with my brother (when he was about 4 or so) and grandmother eating crabs and drinking some beer and about how fun it was to go to my grandmother's house as a kid and play on the organ she had and how happy I was that she knew LO. Then my cousin placed the urn in the ground and the funeral director led us in the 23rd psalm.
When we were done, we explored the other gravestones nearby as they were family. I made a mental note to return as I would like to get some rubbings of the gravestones. We said our goodbyes, while the others stayed, I finally took off for home and traffic was light enough that I had time to pick up LO at camp.
[I cried again while writing this. Sorry.]
And now, after today, I'm a little ponderous of a few things, like about how the rituals of death are meant to comfort. About how, as my pregnant cousin noted earlier today, grudges and misunderstandings tear a family apart. About how different my cousins were when I talked to them as adults. And about how my Dad is withdrawing from society little by little.
I called my Mom earlier this evening to tell her about how things went and she seemed relieved that i attended. She said that she wanted to go, but that she didn't want to start another fight with my Dad. She asked if I had told anyone that the reason why my Dad didn't want to attend today was that he was mad at my eldest aunt and about how she "was so wrong about how she treated my grandmother". I said no. And I also told her that what she did for my grandmother when she was alive counts for much more than when she's now dead (which my Mom did as much as she could.) My Dad was out of town today on purpose so he would have an excuse not to attend and I don't really know why my Mom didn't call me last night to tell me to pick her up, which I would have if she had asked. She also mentioned that LO and I could come over tomorrow since my Dad would not be around, but LO and I already made plans. My Dad is planning to spend a bunch of time at their beach house fixing it up this summer, so I have to make sure to spend some time with her when he is gone.
An earlier convo with my sister today revealed that my Mom is allegedly arguing with my Dad even more than usual. But she hasn't asked for help to leave him, even though last year at this time several people offered to help her, and if I could solve this problem, I would. I really, really would.
Stuff to look forward to:
Tomorrow: LO and I will be attending Miker2's family picnic. It will be the first time that his family meets LO.
Monday: With the past week at work being so crappy and everything else going on, I've come to the conclusion that work is just work. (And yes, unfortunately, I have to go to work on Monday.)
Next two weeks: LO is going with her dad to the West Coast for their family get together. I am going to miss LO lots.
Within three weeks: Miker2 starts his new job and will be working just down the street (well, less than 5 minutes because of the traffic lights) of my office.
The season: I always feel older in the summer.
Crap: My new car +6 months old is making a high pitched whining sound like a fan or a belt, so much so I even opened the hood today. It isn't the AC (it happens no matter what), and there is oil and the only fluid that is low is windshield fluid.
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