funeral season


It started in Februray.
One of my students from last year.
It was awkward because I didn't feel quite as bad as maybe I should have. But my heart ached for all those 18 year old pall bearers.
Next was a student's sister. It was only a week or so later and I didn't make it. Kid funerals need lots of space in between.

Then on a fun girl trip to San Francisco I checked my voicemail from the back seat. First was a message from my dad saying to call him. It sounded urgent. Then again, he always sounds urgent. Next a message from my sister asking what I am doing about travel, hotel and flowers. I knew someone had died immediately.
My uncle. But I have never really called him that. More like my mother's brother. He is one of those relatives you don't really talk about. Into Harleys, tatoos, women, snakes and drugs the exact opposite of my conservative mom. He was around enough, but we didn't exactly exchange Christmas cards. But he was my mom's brother and the tears still fell as I called her from a very crowded back seat. I caught an early flight and headed to my mom's hometown.
The viewing was awkward to say the least. We got there early and my mom slipped into the bathroom. It is just me, my sister and my dad when a strange lady and her pregnant teen daughter walk in. She leans over the coffin and weeps loudly. I nudge my sister and say what do we do, she shrugs. My dad has the same reaction. We are awkward and clueless. I prayed for my mom to get out of the bathroom and know what to say or do. Anything but sit there stupidly on my pew. We met with the preacher to tell him about my uncle so he would know the kids of things to say and I couldnt help but notice the display of urns on the wall. It was creepy. I don't have very many memories of this man, but I did say that he was unconventional. He was a rebel. He didn't fit in with our family, but that he was always kind. A few things I thought he had in common with Jesus.
Soon the bikers trickled in. It got a little easier to introduce myslef and me and my sister even took a spin on one of his old motorcycles...much to our parents chagrin.
My brother showed up about halfway through and we headed out for margaritas ( not me) and sopapillas afterwards. It was fun to just be the original Wallis 5. No spouses or kids to distract us. Just the obvious distraction.
I killed time shopping and having coffee in the morning with my sister. We don't do that kind of thing, so it was kind of nice. My parents gritted their teeth through the girlfriend, lawyer and bank.
After lunch, back to the funeral home. We had to sit on the front row on display in our dresses and suits. I said at least I had a few tatoos and could blend in better. No one was amused.
It was awkward but honest. The preacher was good. He spoke honestly of this man he had never met. He did not pretend. He did not paint a perfect picture. But he offered a message of Hope and truth and Christ and Harleys.
It just so happened that my car was the first in line behind the hurse. I had to lead the funeral procession with my mother. I wasn't sure what to say. The police seemed to be tied up and didn't show up for the procession to the cemetary. No need. We had plenty of bikers blocking traffic for us. I told my mom this was the way her brother would have wanted it.

Fast forward one more week. Exactly the next Saturday at almost the same time. I get in my car after a baby shower and check my messages. 2 of them. One from my dad, and the next from my sister. Exact repeats from the week before.
My aunt. My great aunt. Who used to pick me up from kindegarden and take me to ballet and let me pour through her photo albums. Who would let me stay for dinner. Who always made big fuss over me even though I never heard her say anything nice about anything else ever.
It was in SanAntonio. 5 hours each way. Bad timing and I sent flowers and stayed home, full of guilt.

Surely this season has passed for awhile and I can start shopping for summer wedding dresses...

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