I was sad about it. My mother had texted me that morning to let me know that Grandmoose was about to pass on & I called my mother who was only on the phone for five minutes before she had to get off the phone to attend to my grandmother. When I got off the phone with my mother, I cried & Luke held me. When I could talk again, I told him what was happening & he was very kind & comforting. Later that morning, he informed his mother who passed along condolences & suggested all three of us drive down to attend the funeral. I told Luke, "Tell her thank you, but no thank you." I didn't think I could be trapped in the same vehicle with her & Luke for that long, especially if one or ALL of us were running on little-to-no sleep & I was emotional-- it's an atomic bomb just waiting to decimate the earth!
I spoke with my mother almost all day on the day that my grandmother passed. We talked about many things. She told me about my grandmother's history & that included many things that I had not known about her. She had been married twice-- the first one very young & to an abusive man who she did not stay married to for very long; the second time to my grandfather, whom I have never met & found from my mother to be deceased. Her second marriage lasted for about twelve years, during which my grandfather cheated on her multiple times, before finally leaving her for one of his mistresses. When they had married, he brought two girls from a previous relationship (Jan & Kathy) who my grandmother raised. Their mother was not competent to be a mother due to mental illness that kept her locked up in a mental ward. When my grandfather dumped my grandmother, he did so while she had been on a vacation with their children-- Jan, Kathy, Laura (my mother), & Kelye. He left a note for her telling her to be moved out of the house in about two days, along with the children, so that he could move in his mistress. According to my mother, my aunt Kelye found my grandfather a few years ago & tried to have a relationship with him, but it turned out that he was a horrible person & she soon abandoned that. My mother told me that when he died, his wife of many years contacted her & told her that he had loved her & her sisters, & that they should go to his funeral. My mother told her to fuck off as she never wanted anything to do with him & that she wasn't going to do a damn thing as her OWN husband just died & she was dealing with that! My mother told me that she found out he had basically stalked her her entire life. He apparently had a collection of newspaper clippings about my mother-- her high school graduation announcement, her engagement announcement, her marriage announcement, etc. She said it was very creepy because he never once contacted her to have a relationship at all. As far as she knows, she was the only one that he "kept track of".
We also talked about how life was when my father was alive. My mother told me about how she was young & naive when they met & married. My mother told me that she let him change her, to "allow" her to do or think. She told me that she wasn't happy & I told her I knew that & had known for many years, even before he passed. We discussed my brother & she asked me if I thought he had been abused too. She wondered if he had been sexually abused & if that was the reason for his acting out. I told her that he never told me of any besides the one time he confided in me in high school about a girl who had been stalking him slipping him a roofie & having sex with him while he was unconscious. As far as I know, he has never told anyone else about it & I had never spoken of it to anyone until then. I told her I remember my father frequently "punishing" him ie beating him with whatever was handy, most usually a leather belt with a snakeskin buckle. My mother was distressed by this & she asked me if I thought she was the worst mother in the world. I told her no, there were worse mothers out there who hurt their kids. I told her that I understood that many things happened during then & during the last few years & I knew that everyone had things to deal with. I told her that I loved her & that all that mattered to me was that she loved me too & that I had a family. It was a very emotional day.
The funeral was in Florala, Alabama. It was a fourteen hour drive, but actually ended up being a sixteen hour drive due to construction on every highway that went on for MILES. I went by myself because Luke couldn't get off work to accompany me. The funeral was on a Wednesday. I worked Monday evening & was supposed to leave at 2100hrs when my relief showed up. That did not happen as my relief took her sweet time just piddling around. When I asked her if she was ready to take over for me, she looked at me as if she was confused, & asked me, "Aren't you here until 0200hrs?" I told her, no I wasn't; that I had come in at 1100hrs & I was to leave at 2100hrs when she arrived. She told me that no one had told her-- that the LT never texted her to tell her of the schedule change. I told her that it had been approved & updated in the schedule book on Thursday by the LT. (Which was one day before this person returned from her days off-- so she had three days to SEE THE CHANGE.) She finally got all of her shit together & I finally got to leave.... LATE I might add. The reason I was working the odd hours that day is because I had to get up at 0300hrs on Tuesday to leave town by 0400hrs on my way to Florala, which is on the southern border of Alabama where it meets Florida-- hence the name-- FLOR-ALA. I was worried about getting as much sleep as I could squeeze into such a short amount of time, but it didn't matter-- I didn't get to bed too soon anyway.
Aside from the construction, the drive was pretty smooth. Long & frustrating, but relatively smooth. I got mildly sunburned, like I always do, but I applied sunscreen religiously every hour or so. I stopped frequently to utilize gas station restrooms & reapplied the sunscreen every time. I finally got to Florala around 2000hrs & eventually found the house that my family was all staying at. It was the house that my Grandmoose's brother, Ralph, used to live in. Since his passing a couple of years ago, his daughter, Rhea, now owns the house with her husband.
My mother & my aunt Kelye, whom I had not seen in years, met me at the drive way & waived me to where I was to park. As soon as I got out of the car my mother hugged me for a long time & my aunt did as well. My little brother came out of the house & immediately got my luggage out of the vehicle & carried it inside. My cousin, Rhea, her husband, my stepdad, & my sister, another aunt, Jan, & her husband, were all sitting on the patio chatting & drinking. We took my luggage inside & then I joined them outside after I composed myself & swallowed the fear that I felt.
It was awkward for me. I had not spoken with most of them for years nor had I seen any of them since my father's funeral, except for my mother & my stepdad of course. My cousin hugged me & told me that she had missed me & that she loved me. I almost cried, but I held my composure. My sister hugged me & told me that she had missed me. My brother did the same, as well as my aunt Jan. Soon after that everyone except my brother & I went to bed. We stayed up talking for a while about everything that had happened in his life & in mine since he had gotten married. We eventually moved to the living room where we were to sleep for the night & he put 'Hook" on the TV, which was comforting for both of us as we used to watch it as children.
The next day I was awakened at 0600hrs by my cousin's dogs barking right next to the cracked window that my couch was under. It was daylight, so I knew I wouldn't be able to go back to sleep with it as bright as it was, so I went ahead & got up. I went into the kitchen & Rhea was putting together a "breakfast casserole". I sat down, my aunt Jan & aunt Kelye came inside, & we chatted over coffee while the breakfast was in the oven. My sister got up soon after & she pulled up a stool next to mine & we talked about our lives. She brought up my father & the things that occurred all those years ago & basically told me that she had spoken to my big brother about all of it & flat out told him that she had witnessed my father confessing, so she did believe me. She told me that she couldn't deal with all of it at the time that it happened & that in addition to that, she & her ex-husband were having problems. She didn't exactly come out & apologize, but I appreciated what she was telling me. I got what I needed from the conversation that she initiated-- validation. She said that she had visited my mother two weeks prior during Spring Break & that they had a conversation about everything that had happened. She said my mother had urged her to tell me what she had seen & that she believed me. She said that my mother had told her that I needed to hear it. I appreciated the fact that she had waited to do it in person. I told her about what had happened in my life after my father's funeral-- being dirt poor & unable to afford food, working my way through Law Enforcement jobs, dating multiple losers until Luke, etc-- & that I knew everyone had things to deal with through the years. It was a freeing conversation.
Soon after that, everyone was awake & we began getting ready for the funeral. Once everyone was ready to go, we all divided into a few different cars & went to the funeral home. It turns out the man who runs the funeral home knew my grandmother when she lived in Florala forever ago. He said she was a nice woman & used to make jokes & smile all the time. That was very different from how I remembered her.
I met my aunt Kathy for the first time & learned about her life. She has several children, all of which are grown. She had been in an abusive marriage & had finally gotten divorced. She told me that she now works for a group that helps battered women & that she does so well that she was able to pay for her daughter's college. Again, the conversation turned to my life & I told her about the things that had happened, but I did not bring up my father. My sister heard the conversation we had & told me later that she was surprised how mature & different I was to how she remembered me.
The funeral was nice. There was a lot of religious music, which apparently my Grandmoose became more religious as she had gotten older, but most of which I remembered her singing when I was little. We all wrote memories of her on paper & shared them with each other. Mine was the blackberry memory. After they were read aloud, we put them in a locking compartment in her casket so that they could be buried with her. Several people got up to speak about her & my brother sang a bit too. It was a nice service.
After the service, we went to the graveside & they had a short gathering there as well that was just for family. It was peaceful & warm & windy. The people that worked for the funeral home distributed iced water bottles from a cooler to everyone. It was very thoughtful. Afterwards, we went back to the house & everyone changed into more comfortable clothes. An older lady who knew my grandmother stopped by & dropped off large amounts of homemade southern food. I had not really eaten much beyond alcohol, water, & Five-Hour Energy shots up until that point, but it did wonders in stimulating my appetite.
My sister, I have found, is similar to me in ways that I didn't know we were. She's bisexual too. She remembered that I had told her a very long time ago when I was in middle school. I honestly didn't know she was listening. That's how I felt most of my life-- like no one was listening. It was surprising. She has a boyfriend who she has been seeing about three years. She also has two steady girlfriends & a few girls that are casual dates. It was interesting listening to her talk about the dynamic that exists between them all. Basically, they all live in their own homes, & she kind of runs everything. She's mostly unapologetic for how she is, but she seems happy. She told me of the drama that exists between her & her ex-husband & the drama that seems minimal with her "women".
My brother was exactly as I remember him-- obnoxious, immature, attention-seeking, & narrow-minded. He would randomly burst into song all the time. It was kind of strange. I suppose I don't remember him being that way, but it's been a long time. He says that his Cron's is mild, but he does nothing to really take care of his health. I have a niggling suspicion that he will get sicker as time goes on simply because he hasn't changed his diet accordingly. I witnessed him drink nothing other than beer while there & mostly eat junk food up until the condolence dishes showed up. I hope he is as on top of his health as he says he is. He was rather rude & judgmental a couple of times. He started a petty argument over my mother's age when I was born & then started another one about Gonzo's leaving a day before our mother. He just couldn't understand why Gonzo would leave before my mother. Both my sister & I explained to him that Gonzo has an anxiety disorder & the being away from home agitates it. I also explained to him that they had changed the locks on their doors to their house before they left, but no one thought to give the maid a key so he had to fly back before she got there to make sure she had access. He still just couldn't understand & he made himself quite mad about it. My sister & I just looked at each other & rolled our eyes & dropped the subject. I really hope that my brother grows up soon; he will be 24 this fall & he is married with two kids. My fingers are crossed. He was surprisingly even-keeled when it came to her death though. I expected him to be a wreck, but he shared my mother's view about my grandmother's death-- that it was a good thing.
I felt a few of the old emotions from my youth being around all that family. I felt invisible at times, as well as jealous of the attention that my brother sometimes received. I think, though, that they give him attention out of pity. He acts as though he is still a little child & seeks attention the way a kid in elementary school would. He is very frustrating, but despite that it was good to see him. (as if it isn't obvious by my writing so much about him!)
My cousin Leigh, who I have not seen for ten years, also attended the service. It was very good to see her. She has been seeing a man for a little over a year now & keeps hoping he will pop the question. (As of writing this, he finally did & it is a beautiful ring that he gave her!) We got to catch up on many things & she told me many stories about her old dorm days of having roommates. It was fun, like we were in high school again & having a sleepover. Sadly, she didn't get to stay very long after the service before she had to drive back to her home.
I left the next morning relatively soon after Gonzo left. My mother drove him to the airport which was about an hour away, but my mother requested that I wait to leave until after she got back. It was a good thing I did-- she hugged me like she would never let me go. Everyone that was there-- Rhea, her husband, Kelly, aunt Kelye, Zach, & mom-- all hugged me & had me take pictures with them. They all made me promise to not wait so long before seeing them again. It was nice feeling loved like that. When I left, everyone waived goodbye until I was out of sight.
The drive back was just as tedious as the drive there. It was just as long & just as frustrating, but I hit most construction sites after-hours, so it was a little less crowded on the roads. The worst part of driving back was the one-lane construction with no shoulder from Arkansas almost all the way to Shawnee. I was exhausted & it was dark & the road was narrow & very hard to drive. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time while simultaneously trying to stave off exhaustion & resist falling asleep. By the time I got home, I only had enough energy to text one word-- "Home"-- to everyone who I had promised I'd text when I arrived. Tim & Luke both immediately came out of the apartments to help me. Tim grabbed the luggage & Luke had to practically carry me inside as I was too tired to stand up on my own.
Thankfully, I had the next three days off from work, so I used most of that time to catch up on sleep. Subsequently, I got sick for the second time in the month & am only just now getting over it, only to be attacked by allergies! It's been a long month.
I will always miss my Grandmoose. I do hope she's at peace.