Monday, May 22, 2006
That horse is dead. Really, really dead.
Checking in from my mother's computer... the far-too-many-miles weekend is almost done. So far, we have gone from NH to Rochester, NY via Binghamton (yay, break out!) and then done a day trip to Niagara Falls, before returning to Binghamton from Rochester via Obi, NY (extra credit to you if you have any idea where that is before you go a-lookin'). Now we just get to head back to NH with a single stop in Oneonta to visit my grandparents and their super-annoying dog. My butt already had the basic shape of the Jeep's seat, and now it's developing a ridged upholstery pattern, as well.

We've had some hilarious moments and some terrible ones, and I'll take some time after we're back home to try and write it out in a conscious-thought sort of way, but for tonight I wanted to post a quick synopsis of my great-grandmother's funeral. The ceremony was lovely, and an incident immediately afterward reminded me that whenever I'm having an especially thoughtless or snotty day, I can blame it on genetics.

Now, as backup, my mother's family and my father's family are vastly, vastly different critters. My father's family is label-conscious, fashionable, and largely untrustworthy and let's-get-together-but-not-really sorts of people. I spent much of my childhood believing that they were cool, and eventually learning that if that's cool, I'll skip a serving, thanks. They're not bad people, by and large - just very surface. When my great-grandmother on that side, my dad's grandmother, died last summer, I was personally very saddened because she was one of the only genuine, loving, comfortable people, who didn't care when my complexion was bad or when I was a marching band geek instead of a cheerleader. We attended her funeral, and it was horrible. Soulless and boring, some stranger just opened a book to a cerrtain page and read some stuff, and then we went to the gravesite and the same guy read more stuff, and all in all it was the most cookie-cutter, personality-less experience ever. I could have just crashed any funeral anywhere and had the same effect. Which was horrible, because that grandmother was so full of life and spark and verve, she deserved a better tribute. This is a woman who, in her 80s, got kicked out of an Irish bar on St. Patrick's Day - and she was as Irish as you could get without actually bleeding green. So - big sigh.

On my mother's side... well, they're a lot less fashionable, to start. They are, in a word, rednecks. Not all... but most. And while I once might have thought that made them a less happening bunch, I have since learned better. Even for my mother's grandmother's funeral, this morning, it was simple and plain and unrehearsed - just a graveside service to which the minister never actually showed up (that can't be good karma, can it?) but several of my relatives are religious enough on their own to pull off a service on their own, complete with distribution of tracts and very long prayers. But they MEANT them, and I have to respect that. Several different people stepped forward to talk about what Grandma meant to them, and it was just generally what it should be like, in my view. Why is it they don't let me run the world, exactly?

Anyway. So that part was fine. After the service, my uncle proved to me that even after years of separation, he can still make me incoherently angry with a handful of words. What a skill. A small group of us were chatting near the graveside: my grandmother, my grandfather, my uncle and myself, with my mom a few feet away. My uncle pointed out that my grandparents had a new truck, and asked the requisite Manly questions, like, "When did you get it? How many horses under the trannie? What grade of oil in the combustion unit? Think anyone knows we just make all this stuff up to sound Even More Manly?" The questions were duly answered, and then my grandmother said, "Oh, we just got rid of a bunch of our stuff - we sold our car, and both scooters."

At which point my uncle apparently had a frontal lobotomy, or perhaps he never brought any impulse control with him in the first place. Because he immediately went off on this tirade to my grandmother (his mother) about, "What do you MEAN you got rid of the scooters? Do you not REMEMBER me saying I wanted them? I remember, you asked, what did I want when you died, and that was the only thing. Now when you die, there's nothing I want. Thanks a lot."

Now, let's review... the woman is standing next to her own mother's grave, having unexpectedly lost a sister two months ago and now experiencing another loss... the weather has been cold and rainy, the minister didn't show up, and she is embarrassed because her husband insisted on bringing Cinnamon, the World's Most Annoying Dog, not only to the cemetary but actually to the service itself. And now her son is berating her for choosing to sell her own personal property. Yee haw.

Needless to say, she sort of lost it a bit at that point. Not in a big, woe-is-me sort of way, but just got very sad and defeated. I decided that it was more important for me to try to comfort her than to suggest to the cemetary employees that perhaps a second big gaping hole was in order, just as a place to store my uncle for a while.

Through the rest of the afternoon, at the reception afterward (which was put on entirely by my great-grandmother's 92-year-old baby sister - I'd never met her before, but she was fantastic. At one point, she and Willem were at the buffet table together, and she said, "Well, I guess it's my turn to eat. I was waiting to make sure everyone had enough." He said, "Oh, I know better. You were just making sure nothing was poisoned." She said, "Well, ain't no bodies on the floor, are there?") - anyway, my uncle repeatedly returned to the topic of the scooters, as though with enough whining and guilt, this 42-year-old boy was going to convince his parents to go back in time and do things his way. He was determined to beat that horse, and beat it again. And again.

Gotta love family. Right??