Friday, June 24, 2011

A Brief Trip Home

At the beginning of April I got one of the worst bad news phone calls I've even gotten. My grandfather had had another stroke. He was paralyzed on half of his body and we were not sure he would make it. To cap the call off my boss from my previous job who I had known for eight years had finally lost her battle with cancer, her funeral was to be the coming weekend. I wondered if I would be coming home for two funerals.
 That turned out not to be the case as my grandfather held on for weeks. He was confused, frustrated, and unable to speak.  I called my parents and grandmother everyday. It was hard to be hundreds of miles away unable to be there for my family in anything but voice. Unable to say goodbye as papa slipped away.  At the end of April he finally came to rest, and I came home to be there with my family.  The funeral turned out to be both harder and easier than I expected.
As the closest family we had to be there before anyone else at the viewing in order to set up all the pictures. Overall we had to be at the viewing for three hours. I thought it was going to be really hard seeing him in the casket, but he looked so peaceful it was more of a relief after I knew how much he had suffered at the end.  It was confusing and awkward to know almost no one at the funeral, and have relatives you didn't know/couldn't remember come up to you and exclaim how big you are now(I should hope I'm 'big' now, I am 21 and a senior in college).  There were even cousins I had no idea existed. One of them is even going to grad school at my University. (We ended up talking about our university jobs and he got my lab office window fixed, it's all about the people you know apparently).  I think the absolutely hardest part of the funeral was the military honors for my grandfather's service in WWII.
As soon as we got out of the car at the cemetery I went to my Nana and put my arm around her.  As her only grandchild (my 'new' cousins were the children of Papa's son from his first marriage) I knew she needed my support. I stayed there for the whole burial service, which is how I know that the moment the soldier saluted her after handing her the folded flag her composure cracked. She had held up well all day, but looking in that woman's face as she thanked my grandmother for Papa's service to the country was heart wrenching.  And then they played taps. That's when I lost it. That song is so sad and plaintive when you're already sad, I couldn't help but lose a few tears.  After an emotional day like that I took refuge in one of my hobbies, photographing nature:
We have quite the flock of turkeys at home. My father feeds them and gives me daily updates on their activities. He can tell them apart by the carbuncles on their necks, and some of them even have names now. Last I heard there was a mom with four babies who's hanging out with the loner hen (she lost her only chick despite our efforts to save it on my trip home in June) and another hen who had no chicks.
The Jake.
 Jake vs Tom. Jake never gets to eat once Tom gets to the dish, though while we were watching this Jake pulled a clever ruse to get at the food. He perked up and looked down the driveway like he had seen something and then ran away, the Tom followed him. As soon as the Tom was moving away from the food dish the Jake did a one eighty and sprinted for the food and managed to chow quite a bit before the Tom came back and bullied him out of the way.

Our mound, my mom's been trying to make it into a flower meadow for years

The North Pond, my dad has been digging it by hand since I was a sophomore in high school, he calls it his exercise program. The plan is someday to stock it with game fish. I think it's my dad's way of making up for us not living on a lake like my mom had wanted.
Some wild blood root, I was lucky I was home while it was blooming
My mother's hyacinths. This is my favorite shot from the whole trip.

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