Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Funerals seems to bring out the best and worst in people. FIL's funeral was no different in this regard.

For one thing, i had to fly down for the funeral. Well, i didn't have to, but by train/bus/train, it would have taken over 15 hours, and as Himself and i would drive back together, driving myself there didn't seem to make sense, even with a rental car. Or, especially with one, having to do the NYC to Philly gauntlet of driving. Flying would be the quickest, even if i opted for two stops instead of one, saving 50% on the fare. I also opted to have carry-on luggage only, and felt naked without my Swiss army knife with me. I misplaced it a few weeks ago, and have yet to find it, so it was easier than usual to leave it behind. But still missed. I also enquired if knitting needles are once again allowed or if these would be viewed as weapons. No way was i willing to surrender my half-done mitten to some TSA person who wouldn't give a monkey's about my knitting efforts.

Nope, knitting needles were okay. So, i booked my flight and hoped for the best that the hardware in my leg wouldn't be too much of a security problem.

It took me about 15 minutes to pack, and i couldn't sleep at all, fearing that i'd oversleep the alarm. I didn't, and i was grateful that the local regional airport required me to be there a half hour before the flight rather than the two-hour requirement most of the large airports require.

I had always loved to fly and deeply resented the fallout from the @#)($#(* terrorists 11 September attack on the Twin Towers. I wondered if i'd feel that same sense of wonder and anticipation i used to feel, even if everyone would look askance as i set off all the security alarms because of my leg's hardware. I had called for a taxi to take me to the airport, so we wouldn't have to get my car on the way back. The taxi driver arrived a bit early, and we left right on time. It was a beautiful sunny day, and we chit-chatted about the weather and wondered where the summer had gone. As we pulled up to the front door at the airport, i felt a surge of excitement. That same sense of adventure i had always felt when flying returned. Take that, you @#($(@* terrorists.

The security check-in wasn't really that bad. I had my toiletries bag ready for when i go boating, and had a ziplock bag in there chiefly to keep things dry. At the beginning of the sailing season this year, i had filled empty travel sized bottles with my preferred shampoo and conditioner. I hadn't used much of either on my 4-day trip in June on my friend's schooner, and it was easy enough to put them all in the extra ziplock i had in the toiletries bag. The woman doing the security check kindly explained that we'd need to pull out the liquid items, place them in the plastic zippy bag, and that she could give us one if we didn't have one. No more than 3.5 ounces; again, i easily met that requirement. I wore slip on sneakers/trainers so they were easy enough to shed, and i learned to unzip/rezip my laptop bag with alacrity.

I told the man at the gate about the hardware in my leg, and it didn't set off any alarm. He commented that my hardware must be doing a good job, and he had some stuff in his knee.

I pulled out my knitting whilst we were waiting for boarding. A puddlejumper to the Big Airport awaited us, and the first lady who greeted us gave us our seating assignments. She placed me in the last seat in back. I was the only one with an empty seat next to me, and she explained it was because of my knitting. Sweet woman, as i could sprawl the yarn all over quite comfortably. I told her i thought it was because i was the shortest passenger and most people would consider it a squeeze. She gave me a knowing look that seemed to say, "That, too," and i made my way to the back, which was two steps from the doorway. There was only a pilot. A passenger sat in what would have been the co-pilot's seat on any other plane. I was a tad envious of his position, but i also knew nearly everyone else was wishing he or she had brought along knitting to get a bit of breathing space, too, that i freely had with the empty seat. I think the plane could hold 10 passengers at most, and even i couldn't stand up in the plane without knocking my head against the ceiling.

As the plane revved to start its dash down the runway before takeoff, the smile on my face involuntarily widened. I always love the moment of takeoff, and that sense of awe filled me as we felt the wheels leave the ground and wind support the wings. Just like sailing, only the wings were horizontal instead of vertical, and made from metal rather than fabric.

The view was astounding as we rose above inlets and coves i know so well. I thought i spotted my friend's schooner and waved. Not that they would be able to see me, and it was early enough that no one except the cook, mate, and perhaps messmate were up, but it was the thought that counts.

Arriving at the Big Airport meant i had to catch a bus for my connecting flight at another terminal and needed to go through the security check-in again. I had everything ready, explained about the hardware in my leg, and they had me stand in front of an X-ray machine for the full body scan. Easy-peasy, and i was cordial as i put my shoes back on and told the security guy that didn't hurt a bit. And it hadn't. After all the horror stories of ugly TSA moments, i was relieved to find that the folks i encountered were just doing their job. They were careful to make sure i got my laptop back. They explained that i needed a separate bin for it, and even though i'm sure they needed to say it hundreds of times every day, it didn't sound stale.

At my last layover, we didn't have to go through another security check, as the transit bus met us near the plane and dropped us off behind the security check-in point. An Asian woman liked my mitten and asked about the double-knitting technique. I had her try on the mitten i had already finished so she could see that it wasn't as bulky as she might expect. The cook on my friend's schooner texted me to let me know she had checked on the cats and all was okay. My friend who is a nurse was going to check on the kitties the other days, but couldn't the first day, as she was on call. Another sailing friend texted me to say he was thinking of me, hoped all was well. We texted a few more times, he telling me a bit about his sailing trip, me giving a tenative itinerary on when Himself and i would return.

Himself picked me up at the airport, and had to wait a half-hour longer than anticipated as we left a tad late and those of us who had carry-on luggage had some pieces that were too large for the smaller overhead bins. One of the women who waited behind me for our tagged pieces to be brought to us remarked on my knitting. She was a weaver. Who knew that a pair of mittens could be such a conversation starter?

As Himself drove and i looked at a landscape that had been so familiar, i mentally noted some of the changes. This house's paint colour scheme had changed, that commercial building now sported a different name.

Friends wanted to take us out to lunch next day, and they did. It was wonderful to chat with them, and three years' absence wrought few changes. Their hair is a bit whiter, but their wit as sharp as ever, and we enjoyed a lovely lunch.

The viewing was later that evening, and although my brother-in-law didn't want an open casket, he was outvoted by his sister and Himself. I am not good with dead things, never have been, and i abhor open caskets. I wasn't consulted of course, being only the in-law, and it was a gift from God that i was as okay with it as i was. Perhaps all those gifts the cats have brought me toughened me up a bit. Most of the people who came came for Himself, my SIL, and BIL; one of FIL's dearest friends, himself 90 or so, let Himself know that as much as he'd like to make the 2.5 hour journey to pay his respects, he just couldn't. One of Himself's childhood friends has a mother who's still living and also opted not to make the trip. She must be in her 80's by now.

I chatted with many of the people who came, especially those who came for Himself. I was sad for our loss, but not for FIL. He was more than ready to go. I didn't get chance to speak to a few as they stayed very briefly, but i'd get to speak to them the next day.

After the viewing another childhood friend Himself has wanted to take us out for dinner. My FIL had been pretty much a surrogate father for him, and i felt very sorry for his loss. I asked him to stay the night at our house, as he was going to attend the funeral service the next day and be a pallbearer.

We were invited out to breakfast by FIL's BIL. He had flown up from Florida for the service. His wife, FIL's sister, wasn't well enough to make the trip. I hadn't seen Uncle B for several years, so offered to ride with him. He welcomed my company, introduced me to his Garmin/GPS, which he calls "Road Bitch," and we chatted easily about boats and the theatre. He and his wife are a striking couple, and as i looked at Uncle B, i saw that he now looked like an elderly man. The blue eyes were as penetrating as ever, and his years of serving in the Navy still showed as he looked crisp and neat, but his jowls showed the lines of age, and his step was a bit slower. On the ride to the church, he confided some things. I must have one of those faces, and i don't gossip. Consequently, i know any number of family secrets that other family members would be appalled to learn that i know.

The night before, SIL had thought we were one pallbearer short. I told Himself i'd be glad to volunteer and went up to SIL to let her know i could help. No, they had found someone else, and here i felt a bit miffed. I was surprised at how much i really and truly wanted to do this. Me who recoiled at dead things. Himself said i could take his place, but i didn't think that right, so i told him no and decided that even if i felt a bit bruised, i needn't make a scene about it. Himself had volunteered to say a few words and came over a few minutes later, asking if i'd take his place as pallbearer as he wanted to rewrite a bit of what he was going to say. I nearly said no, thinking him simply diplomatic, but i opened my mouth, "Okay," popped out, and i saw he was visibly relieved.

The priest is from Nigeria and speaks English with a sing-song cadence. He is one of those happy men of God who lives his faith. If more Christians were like him, i'm sure more people would be attracted to Christianity. His homily was a mix of encouragement, solemnity, and joy in expectation of everlasting life. Himself and our older nephew both spoke after that. They both spoke from their hearts, and i think it did them both a world of good.

We went to a nearby restaurant afterwards, and there were 30 or so in our party.

After a few hours at home and a bit of a nap, we met up with friends for another meal and wonderful conversation.

I gained three pounds in as many days, and was grateful for the outpouring of love and support. People said it with food and funny stories. With hugs and tears. By sending flowers, or in one case, with a gift certificate so Himself and i could enjoy ourselves as we saw fit.

I had chance to see a number of people i haven't seen since moving to the new location, and it was nice to catch up on things.

The kitties were glad to see us when we returned, and the relief of not keeping an ear cocked for "that" phone call in the wee hours is visible in both Himself and me.

I did say at the start how funerals seem to bring out the best and worst in people. I've decided to focus on the good stuff.

1 comment:

  1. A gentle good bye, the only the best bits of the tale told.