Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Diem Memoriam 1


In truth it has been a long time for me. My life has moved from one slow motion moment to the next. Sometimes with a quiet peace but most times with the difficult plodding that is the mourning period after death.

If I had known he would be there for only two more days I would have stayed. There is no way I could have known that.

I spoke with my cousins at the funeral, I helped however I could on the preparations. I am too young and too irresponsible to do much.

I spent time with family. I have worked little and spent most of my time dazed.

It is hard to reflect right now, it's too easy to be in pain and too hard to write.  I have drawn a bit.

I grind my teeth whenever I'm not paying attention.  My jaw is sore, an unhappy reminder I am not relaxed.

Preparations. The house the family. Outside. The dog.

I awoke from the restless sleep at 5am.  It was not by choice.  It was a sound.  The sound of the blinds being attacked mercilessly by the cat.  5am.  She usually waited until 6.  I was up.  And I wanted out the door.  I showered quickly, ran to Starbucks, and made my way to Portland.  I avoided most of the traffic that way.

Ciera was in Canada with her family and I could feel the absence.  Despite traveling to see family--the people who raised me--I still felt alone without the person who had been by my side during my transition to adulthood.

I drove in at 9:15am, after getting a speeding ticket. I was greeted without fanfare. Perhaps it was everyone waking up or perhaps it was the surrounding circumstances, but the house was enervated. I looked at the far wall, there were flip charts everywhere.  Every detail had been designed by committee. The funeral took two weeks to prepare. And details were changed every moment.

The day was sunny.  It was going to be hot and wonderful.  Nate was cooking eggs or potatoes.  A breakfast for everyone.  My dad had gone to drop off Olivia at work.  Grandma was reading the paper.  If not for the flipcharts, it seemed normal.  Everything was normal.  Except everyone was in town.

I found myself wandering around the house.  Grandpa left over 45 years of himself in the house.  In the basement were his dolls, set up with his camera equipment so that he could get the light right.  He had his dark room.  He had his fly rods.  He had his man cave.  Full of his things.  And the photos and slides--rolls and rolls, stacks and stacks.  He left his photos and as near to a portrait as one could imagine.  A perfect record of his life.  And yet there were so few pictures of him.  The man behind the camera had an uncanny ability to dodge the lens.  We had photos of him sure, but nothing near the comprehensive collection of his perspective.  And believe me, they were his perspective.

In his later days he would heavily modify photos to be warmer, more orange.  His sight was failing and technology allowed us to see what he saw.  A warm and happy family--orange like umpa lumpas, but happy.

At noon I found myself writing things down on flipcharts, trying to help the committee figure out opening reception arrangements.  Where people stand is a very big deal.  And it was very meticulously planned.  If not with the best focus.

Nan was brushing the dog, huge tufts of Andy's golden retriever fur came off him, a few escaping Nan's grasp and floating into the spring green forest.  Phyllis took the weather as an opportunity to suntan, insisting her underwear was a bikini bottom and her rolled up tank top was a tankini.  George and my Dad argued over details that had already been set.  Les brought out Cheeto's for everyone to munch on; a move that caused many distress, "stop doing that! It's unhealthy, this is why we're fat!"  They munched anyways.

Somehow it got done though.  And by 2pm, a mere three hours after we had started, the layout was done.  Almost.  Nan really didn't want Peter or Evan helping with parking.  But I accidentally put Pete's name at parking. And I couldn't put Louie and Georgie together.  So I had to rearrange.  It was ok.  The layout was followed only in the most liberal of definitions ultimately.

And then George, Phyl, and my Dad decided to go over the food menu again.  The order had already been put in but there weren't enough fruit plates, which threw everything into contention.  After another hour, the menu remained unchanged except for one removed item and an extra fruit plate.

At some point family sifted in.  Like me unnoticed--it was normal--and suddenly all were there.  A plague of people, all emotionally drained, and all happy to be with each other.

As the evening set in, the house lights turned on and everything turned a warm orange.