Shaking Out The Notebook
*Keys jingle in the lock, the door opens (ringing the bell), and I flip the lights on. I turn the sign around that says “OPEN” and The Diner is back in business. One addition to the Wall of Fame is the bridal oil painting my grandfather had made of my mother. Below it is a sign that reads: “Charlotte–in her ‘pre-Scar’ days.” The machine makes the coffee on its own, so there isn’t anything to do other than wait on customers*
Lots of notes from over the week:
After my mom died late Saturday night there was a flurry of activity. Hospice nurses lovingly caring for my mom’s body and dutifully destroying the medicines in view of police witnesses. Paramedics filling out paperwork. Funeral home directors fulfilling the necessary tasks. I stepped outside before they took Mom out. I have enough visuals stored on my hard drive that won’t make me happy, and I didn’t need one more.
We had a meeting with the funeral home director first thing Monday morning to plan the memorial service. I think that’s a hard job because you have to show compassion and care while at the same time you’re trying to run a business. Money’s involved…and in some cases lots of it, and I don’t think love & compassion and money mix well. My higher-order life-liver sister Jilly, true to form, got the guy to start telling us stories about brawls and the like from memorial services. We were mesmerized. The guy should write a book.
Later that day we helped Mom’s husband Will with the tasks he wanted to do, such as clean out closets and attics and such. Jilly, Barstorming Brother-in-Law Shane and I went through the clothes and all that…and promptly took them to charities. It also helped that we “de-hopitalized” his bedroom and made it look like a home again by moving the medical stuff to the garage for a hospice company pick-up and getting the furniture back to the original places. There were some small discussions regarding bank accounts and such as I’m the executor of the estate, but there really isn’t all that much to execute, so the discussions will remain small and relatively easy.
Note to self: Make my children’s paperwork stuff after my demise as easy as my mom made ours. She took all that stuff seriously and it’s made things pretty darn easy in that regard.
Tuesday was small chores…and we took the afternoon “off” to go see Nacho Libre. Perfect stress-relief.
Wednesday was the memorial service…and it was a blur. Lots of people. Lots of family. People I hadn’t seen in years and people I hadn’t seen in hours…and no time to talk much to any of them. Note to self: Never say “I remember you when you were this big” to anyone for any reason. I heard it. My daughter heard it. The highlights for me were seeing Hal and Smitty (who apparently flew in from the Carolinas for the hour, a gesture truly deeply appreciated) who–true to form, and much needed–provided comic relief as well as providing a reminder of great friendship. I’ve known them since middle school. A family from my church stopped by to tell Tracy and I how much they cared–which meant a GREAT deal to me that they would put a parenthesis in their vacation for such a task. The best part of the service was when her pastor–from Ireland with a thick accent, who also has trouble with his “r’s”, would say things like, “Hewwo, and good aftew nyoooon…” He reminded me of the minister in “The Princess Bride” and I almost started to giggle, but I kept it together pretty much.
I’ve come to the conclusion that most people aren’t really listening to the speaker at memorial services. My Uncle Jack sat in the back. I asked him if it was because he planning on heckling, and he said, “No. Always…ALWAYS…leave yourself an escape route.”
TRUE DEEP SOUTH MOMENT (or further proof that area of the country is football mad): My mom wanted her ashes scattered at Denny Chimes…one of the landmarks at the University of Alabama. So, my aunts and cousins, along with her husband, reconvened there. I showed up wearing an Auburn hat (the rival school, which I attended) and the first playful words out of my Aunt Sherry’s mouth: “I can’t believe you’d wear that hat from hell right here in heaven!” My reply: “My mom finally figured out an iron-clad way to make me come here, but she left a loophole by not telling me what to wear.”
I said a few words and picked out a nice spot in the flower bed next to the cemented handprints of Joe Namath, Captain, 1965. Apparently, the Crimson Tide team captains from each year get to put their handprints in the sidewalk around the landmark, and since he was the most famous quarterback from the time when mom was there–it seemed like the best place. My cousin Robert was the family lookout as we checked the laws on ash scattering and suffice to say they were vague. The funeral director said it’s legal anywhere except within a mile of water as long as no one objects. So, really, Robert was making sure no one objected. No one was around to object anyway, and I can’t imagine anyone cared, nor that this doesn’t take place AT LEAST once a month or more at any SEC school.
Then we went to the football stadium, which again was wide open. We had my cousin Jody–the smart one with the Ph.D.–to read the list of signs next to “Home Team Family Pass Gate” that told us what we couldn’t bring into the stadium. Jody: “Well, we’re pretty much the only team here, so we’ll be the home team. We can pass through this gate. She isn’t in a cooler. She’s not an umbrella. She isn’t a video recording device. She isn’t a handgun. I think we’re okay…except once we go in we can’t come out and re-enter without another ticket.” My Uncle Bob went through the stadium and found a locked gate and actually said, “Uh-oh, the gate is locked.” It was a four-foot fence. I just climbed over it, took the remaining ashes, dodged the sprinklers and scattered some on the 50 yard line…so, now when they toss the coin or I’m watching an Alabama game, I’ll have a nice reminder. Of course, I went to the area where the visitors will enter the field and put the last of the ashes there so she could get a good look at my Auburn Tigers when they enter the stadium next November. I wore my Auburn hat to the stadium, too. I think my mom would’ve playfully objected, but not had it done any other way. My family members applauded…and then the aunts told their children they wanted the same thing done.
Shelby called from her dance intensive (of which she’s doing very well and learning a lot of cool stuff) and she was out of class at the time. We asked her if she wanted us to stop by as we could easily turn around and be there in 10 minutes. She said, “No, I have to go to dinner with some friends.” And so it begins. I’m amazed at her self-confidence, her self-sufficiency and her maturity in being away from family for three weeks. She calls and text messages plenty, but she’s on her own on this deal.
We had dinner with Will and Jilly and Shane.
We said goodbye to my in-laws, who we left Kelsey with for a few weeks of vacation.
And Tracy and I drove back with Lloyd all day yesterday.
And today I’m drinking coffee out of my dad’s old mug. Makes me feel a little more connected to family today. And I think I need that. Yesterday, for one of the few times ever, I felt a little sad about leaving Alabama…
…because leaving this time felt like I was leaving more than leaving Alabama.