Hi you guys! I’m back from Lancaster, PA where I spent a long weekend celebrating Pop-Pop. And visiting with lots of family and family-friends that I haven’t seen in forever. It was emotionally exhausting and lovely all at the same time. We had a service for Pop-Pop, and we packed up his apartment. There was crying and laughing at both. Very Kleenex and Puffs Plus-y. Pop-Pop was adored by everyone.
I come from a family who laughs easily. This is Les, my Ma-Ma and me, at the funeral reception. Ma-Ma has “the dementia”. But it’s mostly the happy kind. Like, the good-spirited alternate universe. She sounds like Ma-Ma. It’s just that sometimes the words don’t make sense. But she hugs the crap out of us and wants to buzz around like a busy bee, visiting everyone.
I told her, “I love you Ma-Ma” with a hug that felt heavier than normal. And my eyes got wet.
She replied, “Awwww…… I like you a little bit” and squeezed my shoulder.
*Coming from 30+ years of her unconditional love – and joking – this is likely a mixture of both…Right, Ma-Ma?!
There was apple pie a la mode at the reception. Mashed potatoes with all the fixins. If there is ever a time for comfort food, it’s this kinda time. My Dad spoke at the service. He worked on his speech for hours. He was the only one who could have gotten through it anyway. A choir sang my Mom’s anthem. It’s gorgeous. And then taps played. And we all drowned in our own tears and sailed away in boats on them.
Later that weekend, we went through Pop-Pop’s things in his apartment. His pill box, empty up until noon of last Sunday. A box of Cheerios. His toothbrush. I went through his suit jackets and found a tissue, a comb and a business card in every one of them. Family photos lined shelves and bookcases. That strange place never suited him. He said he “hated eating with old people” at the retirement village. But even the nurses had bittersweet stories about his short stay there.
But there were the good parts in going home. Getting to see my nephew Hudson! This was the first time I actually wanted to hold him. Before, I did it like some kind of obligatory auntie thing. Like, kid — lemme hold you so you get my scent on you, so you recognize me next time I see you in a year. This time, he was laughing and smiling at everything. As soon as my sister got him out of the car, I was all gimme. I put in my time during his screaming infancy. I deserve this happy portion before he turns goth.
I fed him a paper coffee cup jacket on a brunch walk downtown.
And here are Heath and Les, demonstrating the magic of parenting.
Get a good look at your Pop, Hudson. Remember every little bit. (Don’t be weirded out, Dad.)
Speaking of… My Dad and I, had our own shared new experience! CHICK-FIL-A. It’s amazing we’ve lived this long without ever sinking teeth into that chicken. But we did. We ate that chicken. At some exit along the highway in between Maryland and PA.
What made it good was spending time with my Dad.
And then — in the blink of a frigging eye, I had to go back to LA. I said goodbye to my Mom before she left for work, then bye to my Dad at the airport. And I started crying. It’s so hard to go.
This is the part of the post where I would sign off, but I had to include one more thing. I ran out of book, iPhone battery and SkyMall one hour into my 5 hour flight. US Airways supplied us with no visual entertainment and the usual 2 beverage services, along our non-stop bumpy ride into LAX. I began to panic, cursing myself for drinking a coffee before I boarded, clearing “sleepy coma” off my list of possible things to do.
I decorated my barf bag. With things that are “barfy” to me. Examples: Buying gym socks, “cash only”, guys who say they play guitar but only play one Nirvana song. You get the idea.
This weekend reminded me how grateful I am for my family. These people who have huge shared history with me. Who knew me when (insert awkward memory). I love them to pieces.
When we were sorting out Pop-Pop’s things, we came across a note, scrawled in his all-caps handwriting, “Gone for a walk, be right back. – Bob”.