I'm back. Returned from my unintentional, but much needed blogging hiatus.
When my grandmother became sick and then suddenly passed, one of the first orders of business was to call Father Boyle, a priest who had a tremendous impact on my Grandparents--who had long called them friends, had married many of the children, and baptized even more of the grandchildren. He was not to be found. Vacationing in Florida, they said. When my Grandfather finally reached him, he said it was like telling one of his own children that Peggy had passed. He wept and lamented the fact that he had obligations within the church for the weekend and would thus be unable to attend the funeral. He called the next morning. Friday morning--the morning of the funeral. He had a ride to the cemetery. He would meet us there. But my grandmother had chosen to be cremated. No cemetery would there be. More discussion. And then at 9:30, an hour and a half before the funeral, my brother jumped in his rent-a-car-to-the-rescue (with my mom in tow as a gauge for his driving--he already had a GPS--what he needed was a speed measuring device with some humanity--after all he was to be carrying precious cargo) and sped off to Yonkers to pick up Father Boyle. We knew the funeral would be delayed. We alerted the priests. The funeral director. And so we waited. Twenty minutes. Forty. My Uncle Bill Sahnd turned to me and said, "It doesn't matter if everyone else leaves. It doesn't matter if we're the only ones left. Today is our day and we get to do what we want. If we have to wait hours, we will. We will wait. Because this is what your grandfather wants. And this is what he will have." And he was right. And so we waited. And when the mass ended Father Boyle, just about the most Irish man you could ever hope to meet, stood and spoke of how this week we welcomed in the nation's first family. But not too long ago in Riverdale, New York, the church of St. Gabriel's had their own first family: Charlie and Peggy and their six children--Chalres Jr., Stephen, Arlene, Patti, Jean, and Kevin. And so this week Peggy joined the true first family--the one above. It was a perfect speech in sentiment, structure, and length. And it meant the world to all of us. My Aunt Patti, who by God's good graces and the powers of fate had been visiting Pops and Peggy the weekend before, said that a child should never have to tell a parent that their spouse of sixty-one years is not coming home. Watching my grandfather as the casket was taken away was heartbreaking. Truly. But he's so strong. In a family where sentiments are swept under the carpet like breadcrumbs, he spent the week facing them head on. Opting for honesty and truth at all times. And while he may not know how to use the microwave just yet, he will.
Just as we waited for Father Boyle, and put our needs before anyone else's--so too this week, did I. I allowed the sadness to fill me, wash over me, change me--take it's course so that soon enough it would change its form. And yesterday, after returning to bed (in part due to this ghastly cold going round) I woke slightly mended and ready to begin again.
I believe in an afterlife. The evidence to support it, is just too strong. And I believe that after a lifelong fear of traveling, my grandmother got to take the greatest trip--the greatest flight of all. When cousin Katie's plane, en route to Connecticut, reached its cruising altitude and the wings kissed the clouds, she turned to Aunt Sherri and said, "Oh Mom, it's so beautiful. Grandma's gonna love it up here." And I believe she does. I believe she does.