I wish I had known my grandmother better.
For as long as I could remember, she lived in California near the rest of my dad’s siblings, while our family lived in the midwest and later the northwest. She came to visit sometimes while I was growing up, but listening to my cousins speak at the funeral about her delicious home cooking, attendance at their sporting events, and even the sting of her famous left hand, I was left with a feeling of having missed out getting to know this great woman better. The service was really nice; when family and friends spoke about their favorite memories of her there was a strong spirit of love and peace in the room.
After the funeral, we got into our cars and formed a procession to drive to the cemetery. The experience of being escorted by police through L.A. traffic and speeding through red lights and stop signs was surreal. Is it just me, or do you hardly see funeral processions any more? It seemed like a lot of other drivers didn’t understand what was going on – at one point a car cut in front of us on the freeway and stayed there for at least a couple of miles.
My grandmother was infamous among the family for her lead foot and the gleeful way in which she would weave in and out among the L.A. traffic, and at the graveside service several people remarked how much she would have enjoyed the police escort.
She’s buried at Rose Hill cemetery, which people said was one of the largest in the country. It’s a lovely place, with rolling tree-covered hills rising about the city.
The graveside service was sweet and short. We said our last goodbyes to the woman who had left us with memories of her sense of humor, kindness, and southern drawl and spunk. E. sleep in his car seat through the whole thing.
After the service, we headed back to my Aunt V.’s house for a reception and to catch up with the rest of my family. Then after a couple of hours, it was time for my sister, E., and me to leave for the airport.
The flight home was a minor disaster. It was a late flight, leaving the airport at 9:30pm and was only half full, so the attendants let me bring E. on board in his car seat. I had hoped that he would sleep in his car seat during the flight, but no such luck. After I feed him during takeoff, he spit up almost everything all over my shirt. After that he calmed down a bit and my sister (who is SO my hero after this trip) held him so I could take a nap. Then, he pooped and it exploded out of his diaper, soaking through his clothes. I checked out the airplane bathroom, but there was no place to change him. Since the plane was only half full, there were a lot of empty rows. So I place his changing mat on one of them and started to change him.
Now, the plane was pretty cold and when I took off his clothes E. started screaming. I knew why he was crying and so I was hurrying to put his new clothes on so he would stop. I felt really badly that he was crying so loudly, and so I was really trying to get him dressed as fast as possible. During all of this, I hear from behind me, “I have NEVER heard a child scream so loudly!” and then a man leans over the seat backs and thrusts his paperback novel in E.’s face and starts waving it around. E. is so startled that for a second he stops but then he continues on. “See, you have to visually stimulate them to get them to be quiet.” the guy condescends to inform me. I am quietly seething with rage but and too tired and to angry to say anything.
After that, E. quickly falls asleep and stays that way through descent and landing. My sister and I stay in our seats to let the other passengers get off the place first. I apologize to the people sitting around us and they are all very lovely and gracious about it and say they understand what it’s like. Except for Visual Stimulation guy, who purposefully hangs back and waits so he can inform us again that he has NEVER heard a child cry so loudly and that don’t you know, you have to visually stimulate them to calm them down.
WHO DOES THAT? I could not believe his gall. At that point I was so exhausted I just wanted to get home and I was too shocked to say anything in return. I am always too shocked when people are really rude to be collected enough to say something in return. *Sigh.*
Anyway, except for the plane ride home and our rental car being run into by a car full of teenagers in a bad part of town (too long of a story to tell), the trip was really good. I’m glad I went. It was a chance to appreciate my grandmother’s life and to become closer to other members of my family that I don’t get to see very often. And I think that’s all you can ask for from a funeral.