First of all, I find it incredibly funny that someone found my site by doing a search on the phrase "frumpy pigskin."
Well, I still don’t know when my last day at work will be. Nothing was discussed on Friday. I’m hoping this gets sorted out tomorrow (my immediate supervisor was out sick Thurs and Fri, otherwise things would probably have been taken care of on Friday), just for my own sanity. I don’t really think they need me all that much. They still don’t have anyone hired into the dept, but it’s slowing down enough that I think they can still manage the training even if I’m not around. I’m just…I don’t know. I’m over it, I guess. I just want to move on.
On Friday I left work early and got the kids, fed them and got them dressed nicely (and myself) to go to the wake for my husband’s uncle. Bill got home shortly after we did, and by quarter to five we were all cleaned up nice and on our way.
The kids were very good. I don’t know how normal or not normal it is to be bringing the kids with us to funerals and wakes (sounds like we go to them often. I know this year it felt like that to Bill), but that’s just how it’s been happening. They are aware that living things die…after all, they’ve seen enough Disney movies to get that concept, not to mention the loss of a few lizards, a frog or two, and plenty of fish.
I try to figure out what to tell them when we go. My kids are five (and a half) and three (and a half), and I want to keep it simple and honest and caring. So I tell them we are going to be with other people who love Uncle Don, or Auntie Diane, as the cases have been this year, and we’re going to give people hugs to help them feel better.
And that’s what we go do. Friday night we got to the funeral home and went in. Signed the book. Saw cousins of Bill’s that originally we usually only saw at Christmas or at the family gathering in August…now we see them at funerals and wakes.
Alex was sweet. He was quiet and observant and generous with the hugs. I was proud of him. My little man. Julia was a little overwhelmed by it all, so she played shy. I carried her most of the time, and she would duck her head against my shoulder when people smiled at her and said "Hello, Julia Rose…such a pretty name!"
We stayed for a little while. We had arrived during the last hour. While we were there, 6 older men came in and marched up to where the casket was. They spread out, side by side, and one spoke. I don’t remember the words; I couldn’t really hear him well. What I remember was the rhythm and cadence and military spit and polish of the small assembly. They were veterans. Very possibly they had served aboard the Shangri-La with Uncle Don. They looked around that age. They were all dressed differently, ranging from suits and shined shoes to jeans and flannel. But their hats were the same. Actually (oh, I sound like a doofus here) – I don’t know what you call them. Okay, I found it – it’s called a garrison cap, among other things. (Other names are in the article I liked to.) Anyway, they all wore them, all nearly covered with pins and medals. Words were recited with pride and respect and honor. While they stood there, seemingly oblivious to the rest of us behind them, the room gradually fell silent. People stopped and stood respectfully, and shushed those who hadn’t realized what was happening yet.
It was a quiet moment. A poignant moment. There is something about a military procession – even if it only consists of 6 men – that never fails to make my eyes tear up. And it’s not just pure military – I remember five years ago at Bill’s mother’s wake, the endless line of boy scouts, two by two, paying their respects to the family – and I felt the same thing. There is something powerful and breathtaking and comforting about it. My words do not do it justice.
Anyway. After the wake, we headed over to Bill’s friend John’s house. John’s wife had invited some people over for an impromptu surprise night-before-John’s-birthday gathering.
We were the first to arrive. John met us at the door wearing a Burger King crown and carrying their nearly-three-month old baby boy. John’s wife, P, was cooking little tasty snacky things and setting them out. Bill and John went out to the garage to pour a pitcher of beer from the keg out there, and I hung out with P. and tried to keep the kids occupied. P offered them pizza and juice, and that worked for a bit, but Julia…Julia needed to be busy.
She wanted to go outside with Daddy and John.
She wanted to come inside.
She wanted to go back outside.
She wanted some juice.
She took the cushion off the chair.
She wanted to climb on the chair and jump on it.
She saw P. bring in a small platter of sliced, sauteed kielbasa with toothpicks and a small bowl of mustard. "What’s that?" she asked, tapping one of the kielbasa with her finger. I ate that one. We asked her not to touch any more of them. Throughout the evening, she poked pieces of kielbasa with toothpicks and brought them to people. She wanted to play hostess.
She also wanted one of those…no, didn’t like it…gave it to Daddy. Later, she wanted one of those…no, didn’t like it…gave that one to Mommy. Please don’t touch anything else, Julia.
She loved their cat. Another guest asked Julia if she had a cat. Yes, she does. Oh? What does your kitty cat look like, Julia? Like THIS one! she says, pointing to the huge black and white creature sitting patiently on the couch, tolerating Julia’s occasionally annoying cat love. Um…no…Blur is a tiny gray tiger…looks nothing like him. But – both are tolerant of her. That’s something in common, at least.
Julia had to go potty. I was holding the baby, so Bill had to bring her. And they had to go use the upstairs bathroom because, surprise, Alex was already occupying the downstairs one. A bit later Bill and Julia came back downstairs and Bill had a sort of "it was mighty fortunate that I jumped off the tracks just as that train was coming!" look on his face. His eyes usually aren’t opened that wide. Apparently there was a ceiling-high panel made of sections of glass – not a door – and Julia – probably thinking it was a door, pushed on it…and the whole thing started to separate from whatever was holding it up. Bill caught it. No glass broken. Heart rate elevated. Crisis averted.
I spent a bunch of blissful time holding the baby. He was so small! Compared to Julia, I mean. And the funny thing – to me – was how automatic some things are. The slight bouncing…the rhythmic rocking from one leg to the other, with a little slow twisting to the left, to the right. The baby dance. I could still do it. He fell asleep on me. I felt it…gradually he became heavier…in baby slumber. I smelled the top of his head. Baby head smell. Cute and clean and pure and…no, never mind all that. There are no real words. It’s just…baby head smell. And his hair…he has a good amount of soft black hair. Silky soft hair, baby head smell. I smiled at Bill and he froze for a moment and then looked away. Terrified. Hahahahahaha.
Eventually I handed the baby over to another baby-hungry friend of the family, and at some point found myself in the kitchen with P and Bill – can’t remember what we were talking about, but no matter. Julia was there too. The wall between the kitchen and the dining room is not really a wall, it is a series of glass-less window-like openings. They’ve got little statues and decorative things on some of the window/shelves. Others are empty. Julia was kneeling on a chair in the kitchen, beside the little kitchen table, waving through one of the empty spaces to Alex in the dining room. They got a huge kick out of this. Then they switched places so Alex could be on the chair and Julia could be in the dining room. And right about the time they were switching back again, P was offering Bill some olives that she had bought but forgot to put out, and Bill was eating a brined chili pepper and evaluating its heat, and P was urging us to just take the whole container home because she doesn’t like olives anyway, and I said put them in the fridge – they’ll last forever and Bill can eat them when he’s here because we have more then enough assorted olives at home, and right about then I looked at Julia and she was moving back from the window/wall opening and her elbow hit a small statue on the table and knocked it over and next thing we knew, Julia had decapitated Jesus.
Bill and I gasped at the same time and I picked up the head and the body and looked at the neck ends with some sort of desperate hope that maybe this had happened before, or that Jesus, like some old dolls I’d had as a kid, had a head that could just pop back onto the neck. Not so. "John can probably super-glue it!" I babbled helpfully. I was trying not tobreak into hysterical giggles. Bill didn’t bother with self control. He laughed. I wasn’t sure how P really felt about the Jesus statues and Mary statues she’s collected. I think they’re Portugese or something. P seemed pretty calm about everything, but all I could think of was Oh Great, Julia Has Desecrated A Symbolic Rendering of The Son of God.
John had a good laugh about it.
And we figured it was probably a good time to head on home.