I’ve come to learn that funerals can somehow bring a family together. It’s traveling together that can tear you apart. Or at least put you in a ditch.
Last Monday I got a call from my mom. I couldn’t answer so I texted her asking what was going on? She simply answered back, “Grandma passed away.”
I admit I didn’t cry, or feel terribly torn up. I knew this was coming. When my Grandma had been making a miraculous comeback in the ER and her doctors were hopeful, I just knew deep-down that this was it. I take it from working too long in the Senior Assistance industry- you just know the nature of death.
I managed to call my mom ASAP and see how she was doing. She held it together pretty well on the phone, I could tell she was also busy contacting everyone to let them know what had happened. I shuddered a little to think that someday I’d be in my mother’s shoes, but I pushed back the thoughts quickly.
Things kind of went in a whirlwind from that point. My mom flew out right away and I took the role of figuring out how our family was going to go from Nebraska to Idaho to make it to the funeral. Well, I didn’t really “take” the role as much as it got put on me. I’ve come to accept that despite my efforts to constantly showcase my immaturity I am the ‘lynchpin’ of us siblings. I think I got this role of being in charge because I organized the sibling gift exchange every Christmas. I wonder if everyone realized how much I rig the gift exchange then they’d be less inclined to put me in charge.
So late one Wednesday night we gathered in our brother’s apartment and had 4 hours of sleep before driving for 16ish hours. It. Was. HELL. Or at least so I thought…
Between two cars the five of us took turns driving. It was odd, we hadn’t been on a ‘trip’ like this in years. When we were kids there were two kinds of trips: the Dad kind and the Mom kind. Mom’s kind entailed only a few bathroom breaks and efficiency. Dad’s kind entails bathroom breaks every chance we had and sitting down at the rest areas questionable (aka disgusting). I’m pretty sure we could have cut two hours off our drive if we had just left Dad behind.
Through the barren land of Wyoming and past the brief piece of Utah we made it to Idaho around 8pm. We visited with family for a short while then went off to sleep before the funeral.
The funeral came the next morning, and it was actually nice. Sure there was the hurt of losing Grandma, but you could feel closure in it to. I’ll never forget when my uncle gave part of the eulogy and said, “She did not lead a remarkable life but she left a remarkable touch on everyone’s lives.” If only everyone can be so lucky to have that said at their own funeral- “She left a remarkable touch.”
My Dad and brother had to leave right after the funeral but us girls stayed behind for a day. We had some time to catch up with family, and it was simply magical. I’m one of the eldest grandkids, and suddenly all the kids had grown up. The whole day was perfect in a bitter-sweet way, except for one thing.
That evening amongst the driving and everyone traveling in different cars I had left some things behind and had to have my mom bring me my stuff. When we finally met up she told me I’d find my stuff in Grandpa’s van. I opened it up and got the surprise of my life.
My stuff was packed with Grandma- and her casket. There are only three reactions you can have to happening unexpectedly upon a casket: calm, scream, or cry. I did all three. I’m emotionally complex like that.
Everyone laughed at me. A lot. And my aunt said, “Didn’t you hear us talk about how there is going to be a body in the drive way tonight?” I replied that I had thought they were talking about the kids, since they were going to be in their tents camping outside…
After that heart-attack, we got ready for the journey back home. As scary as it was to find a casket in my Grandpa’s van it was actually nice to be able to tell Grandma goodbye one more time before we left.