So I mentioned almost two weeks ago (the last time I blogged, actually): my grandpa passed away on February 6th. It’s been very difficult to get through it – my grandparents and I have had a very special relationship from Day One.
Fortunately, the funeral events are finally over with. Between my husband’s uncle dying last month and my grandfather passing away on the 6th, we had a total of four funeral days this past week to attend. Are you with me on the overwhelmingness faithful blog followers? The schedule went like this:
Sunday, February 10th
Scattering of Uncle Stevie’s ashes, breakfast with the family, and memorial luncheon
Tuesday, February 12th
Grandpa’s wake near our home and birthday dinner for my mom
Friday, February 15th
Grandpa’s wake near his retirement home – 250 miles away outside Yosemite area, followed by a military burial, followed by a memorial church service, followed by a reception in the church, followed by photos and flowers by the graveside, followed by scattering bird seed around near their old home (like my grandpa used to do), followed by a family dinner at the casino.
… followed by my husband and I driving home just 24 hours after we had made the trek up
Sunday, February 17th
Grandpa’s memorial and celebration of life locally (they lived around where we live for the majority of their careers, then moved back for the last two years of Grandpa’s life), followed by a reception, followed by another party at our house
To say I am tired of all this shit doesn’t really even cover it.
But in the last week, I have spent an unprecedented number of hours and days with my mom, and quite frankly a lot of people – something that is typically considered a nightmare to misanthropes such as myself. I was talking to my Uncle John yesterday, and said that this is the most time I think I have ever spent with my mother; and his response was that he knew I was ready for some space. That’s putting it nicely, though. It was a fucking nightmare. My worst nightmare, wrapped into a huge ball of anxiety and sadness and missing my grandpa.
And there were a number of funeral fails, or death-related pet peeves that came out of it all.
Funeral Fail #1:
Expecting Everyone To Grieve The Same Way
But I also didn’t know him too well, so expecting me to break down crying while we scattered the ashes was a little weird. And still, I was asked by one of my husband’s cousins if I never cry at a funeral, or if it was just them. I understand, people are sensitive with their pain, but my God. I said “I just am glad Stevie is finally at peace in the ocean with the other surfers” and I got a cold shoulder.
I’m sure it didn’t make things any better that I proceeded to then walk back from the edge of the pier to wait for them. I just couldn’t be expected to start sobbing, or be interrogated for not doing so – especially when I was trying to keep myself under control after my grandfather had just passed away a few days beforehand. Nonetheless, it made me think about how many people out there truly do expect people to all grieve the same, exact way.
Funeral Fail #2:
Scheduling Funerals On People’s Birthdays
I understand the already-sensitive nature of scheduling a funeral, wake, memorial service, and so on, between the schedules of the churches, parties involved, and funeral homes. But I also think there is something inherently wrong with scheduling funeral events on someone’s birthday.
Two of the dates of my grandfather’s funeral events were scheduled on people’s birthdays. What was particularly frustrating about this was that everyone expected to be able to leave the wake and just chipper up for the birthday celebrations immediately afterwards. To make matters worse, the first was my mom’s. Even in a time of grief and sadness, she still managed to try and micromanage and drama up the entire thing.
First she yelled at me for suggesting that we have a potluck-type thing at my house, since my grandma would no doubt be too exhausted after the wake to go out into a restaurant for dinner. Then she yelled at me for saying it should be potluck, and then told most of the people coming over just to not really bring anything. And in my mother’s typical fashion, when everyone sang her “Happy Birthday,” she just had to call her Hillbilly Husband out in New Mexico, put him on speaker, and involve him in the festivities. She always does that – puts him on speaker, as if this will rectify the fact that the family has either never met him, or only met him for a brief time years ago. This is as if to make OK the lies this guy has told, the fact that they eloped and never really included the family in any kind of celebration afterwards, and all the other egregious offenses that have occurred since this Trailer Park King entered into our lives … but I digress.
None of it would have been necessary had we just been able to schedule the wake the day before.
Funeral Fail #3:
“Do You Remember Me?”
Let me start this final rant off with something nice: I very much appreciated all of the people that came to visit and mourn and pay their respects to my grandfather. He was an amazing guy, who made a lot of friends and treated everyone he knew like family.
To their credit, most of the people that came to any of the three of my grandfather’s funeral days were very understanding of the fact that I might not recognize them. “Of course you wouldn’t recognize me – the last time I saw you, I held you as a little baby!” and so on. Those people were fine.
But then there were those motherfuckers that had to just expect me to know every faceted detail about them, in spite of the fact that I haven’t seen them since I was five. And then there was the lady whose pants fell off while she was looking into my grandfather’s casket (I shouldn’t joke about it, I’m sure it was embarrassing) who kept saying “well, I would expect you to remember me, but I just can’t remember you…”
By contrast were the vast number of people who said the words “oh, I didn’t know your mother had a daughter …” – a statement which speaks volumes, but we will gloss over for the moment.
Yesterday’s was the final straw for me. A woman walked up to me and said “Heather, do you remember me? You used to be my pharmacy technician! Are you still there?” I said that I was not. That I haven’t worked in the goddamned pharmacy since I graduated from college almost six years ago (I left out the expletives). I thanked her for coming to “my grandfather’s memorial,” which is when she said that my grandpa had hired her to work at the church we were in. But then, right as she started to walk away, she turned around again and said “I can’t believe you don’t remember me – I mean, I got a lot of medicine at that pharmacy while you were there…I thought you would have at least taken the time to remember me…”
Really bitch? My grandfather – who, you just explained to me, you wouldn’t have a job here if it weren’t for – just died and you are giving me shit about the fact that I couldn’t necessarily recognize you from a two-bit, part time job I had just to give me some extra cash while I was in college – over half a decade ago? REALLY?!
The moral of the story is that people should really just stop dying. Since that is not going to happen, I suppose the other moral is that when you have multiple funeral events to attend, and are in a position of extreme sadness and grief, you should probably just fix yourself up daily Valium-Wine cocktails. That’s essentially what I did (well, the wine part) this last week. God only knows what I would have done had I not…
By the way, doesn’t my grandma look amazing for a woman who just lost her husband of 63 years? I think so. While I am absolutely devastated at the loss of my grandfather, I think I can speak for both myself and my grandma when I say that this next phase of life in his honor is pretty exciting. I’m starting it with making a quilt out of his shirts for my grandma, having her come over more to teach me to cook her most famous dishes, and letting my grandpa wrap his arms around me every day as I wear his oldest and most cozy cardigan sweater. I love you, Grandpa.