Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Thicker than Water

Currently Reading: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Graham-Greene
Current Playlist:
"Across the Universe" Motion Picture Soundtrack

If you ever start feeling like you have the goofiest, craziest, most dysfunctional family in the world, all you have to do is go to a state fair. Because five minutes at the fair, you'll be going, 'You know, we're alright. We are dang near royalty.'--Jeff Foxworthy

Remember Navi, my ninja kitty? Well if you find any major typos, I blame her. She's hiding behind my laptop monitor and swiping at my fingers when she thinks I'm not looking. Smooth, Navs, real smooth.

Having holidays when you're married is nothing like having holidays when you're single. Holidays double. Your cooking skills double. The presents double. The busy-ness doubles. Maybe even triples. Quadruples. Because suddenly, you're not just dealing with one family or even two sets of grandparents. You're dealing with two sets of parents, two sets of siblings, and four sets of grandparents (or, in our case, mostly just two). All of them live within driving distance. They all want you to come over. And, because you're now a contributing adult, you want to bring food to the familial buffet . . . or at least I do--Chris could sort of care less, haha. Don't get me started on the present budget -.^ People ask us how our first married holidays are. We say, "Good" because they are. "Busy" because they REALLY are. You never realize how much work holidays are until Mommy and Daddy aren't around. Because, as a kid or a single adult, you just sort of show up. That's your only duty. You get married, and now you have to make the time, rework your schedule, bring food, bring presents . . . Presents are the worst. You have to learn what everyone likes, most of them you're just starting to get to know. I've been buying presents for Chris's sisters for years. Chris's parents?? Oh dear. Chris's GRANDPARENTS?? Oh d-d-dear dear! I barely knew how to buy for MY grandparents, let alone anyone else's.

It's not that in-laws are horrible like all the sitcoms say. I actually really love my in-laws. Chris loves my family. We love being with our families period. I don't think I could have used "loved" any more in a paragraph, haha.
So this weekend was family weekend. Easter lunch with my family and the Dunwells, Easter evening with the Bocchinos to celebrate Mel's birthday (we celebrated Easter last weekend with the extended Bocchino/Duda clan). Loved it, lots of fun.

Today, was a funeral with my Mom's extended family, followed by another birthday dinner at Chris's family's for his brother-in-law.

This is the last picture my family with my great-grandmother on her 93rd birthday in February. She died Friday evening peacefully in her sleep. I didn't know Nana very well. I only have two very distinct memories of her really. The others get blurry because, honestly, Nana mumbled and I've never, ever been good at deciphering. She was a sweet woman, though, and she and my mom grew much closer throughout the last few years. Nana had poor health for a long time. She would get sick, go to the hospital, the doctors would say "Any time now" and the woman would bounce right back. She did it enough that we were pretty certain, in the beginning, that she'd come out of this last sickness just like all the others. For a little while, it looked like she would, but then they had to place her in a nursing home because she needed 24 hour care. She was never without family, though. Her daughters and their children came faithfully every day. My mom made weekly trips up to Deland, twice, sometimes if she could. Nana would ask Mom to read the Bible while her roommate glared from across the room. Mom actually performed the service, today, and she did a wonderful job. I hope she understands just how well she did.
Funerals are always such interesting things. You get all dressed up to meet all these people you don't know. Maybe you should know them, but honest to goodness you have no idea who they are or why they're here. So you say "So sorry" "Wasn't he wonderful?" "Won't she be missed?" "How are you holding up?" to each other. The worst is when the other person knows you but you don't know them . . . or when they expect you to be crying and you aren't. People tell me sorry about my Nana, but really, I'm ok. She was sick, and she's not now. She's in heaven, free from all of the pain, dancing with Jesus. She can see and hear again, breathe without those tubes in her nose. She's a free bird. I don't feel a loss, and I feel like a heartless piece of meat admitting that.

I have been to three funerals that I remember, and I only almost cried at one. I'm pretty emotionally shut down with those kinds of things. I cried when my grandpa died. It was a short, outburst of emotion. He was just gone. There was never a chance to get closer, to try, and I felt that loss. I almost cried at the funeral because they played a slideslow that showed me all these sides of my grandfather I didn't know and, now, I never would. Not in this life.
When my Papa died, I was eleven. The most emotional I became was when everyone in my fifth grade class signed a sympathy card. I was touched. I didn't think any of them liked me. Maybe they didn't, but I saved the card for a long time. Papa's funeral was the last place I saw my Uncle Jimmy. He was wearing cowboy boots with a church suit, and, the wee fashion consultant that I was, couldn't quite justify that match in my mind. He had a blonde mustance. "Hey Sarah! Boy, you've gotten big! I bet you don't remember who I am."
"Yes, I do. You're my Uncle Jimmy."
He just smiled.
I saw my cousin Josh sobbing at the end of the funeral, and my Uncle Johnny holding him tight. I asked my parents why on earth Josh was crying so bad when I wasn't. "Papa was his buddy," they told me. "They were really close." I couldn't even begin to imagine. Papa was a man in a recliner with black socks and a deep voice, scratchy from years of smoking. I was scared of Papa. I was sad that my mommy was sad, but I wasn't sad for me.
Then there was today. They had set up a green tent at the grave site. Nana had already been placed in a closed casket. It was the first time I noticed a casket--it was pretty. Family gathered around. Some dressed up in pretty pant suits. My mom wore her pretty blue Easter dress. Others were in jeans and t-shirts. My Oma sat with her husband at her side, scowling. My cousin Tabby was there--I hadn't seen her since Nana's birthday the year before, and, this time, Tabby had her baby girl with her. I hadn't even seen pictures of the little girl, nearly a year old, positively beautiful and sweet. My Uncle Jeff was with her, and he's started to look a lot like Papa, but without the socks or scratchy voice. Uncle Jeff has always been warm and friendly, talks to you like you're one of his buddies and not some twerpy neice or nephew. I couldn't see my great aunt's faces, but they kept nodding their heads as my mom spoke, so you could imagine those bitter sweet smiles, the kind that choke on tears. Ellie held my hand and yawned loudly several times. I tried hard not to laugh, but it squeaked out once. I hope it sounded like a sob. I'd hate for people to think I was laughing. Oh dear. We didn't stay to visit with family. We had to get home so Chris could finish homework and so we could be at Ryan's birthday dinner we had just found out about. There was a part of me that was relieved--I didn't know these people, and I don't know how to mourn with them, but, at the same time, I wish I had gone. I want to get to know them. I want to be able to mourn.
I hope that, one day, my kids can be sad a funeral when a family member passes. It's a weird thing, wishing sadness on someone. I just want them to know, to have a relationship, to be able to feel the hole that person leaves behind, and the hope that they'll be found again in the end.

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