3.25.2012

Saying Good-Bye to Baba (Part II)

I cannot express the gratitude I have for The Merrimack Valley Hospice House.  The kindness they showed my grandmother, my family, and me during our short interaction with them was above and beyond anything I could've ever anticipated.  Baba's remains were given the most beautiful send-off from the facility... quiet, respectful, and incredibly touching.

And then the hardest part began... the arrangements.  Hard for my aunts.  Hard for my dad.  I remained quiet and supportive - assisting when I could, offering moral support when I couldn't assist.  I sat and observed as they coordinated with the funeral director - preparing the obituary, naming the survivors, identifying her lifestyle, selecting readings and music, choosing a casket and a vault, and trying to not freeze around the conference table of the 57 degree funeral parlor.  I had to double check to make sure the table wasn't made of marble slab and we were in fact UPstairs.

The next few days were spent following my aunts around as they ordered flowers, selected apparel and accessories for the burial, planned the dining arrangements, and made all the other last minute preparations that were required.  Organizing a funeral is ironically very similar to planning a wedding.  There is a coordinator that gets everything set for you - the church, the timing, and the announcement in the paper.  Then you select a dress, the colors, the flowers, and the food.  And somehow - it all comes together with your entire family and group of friends gathered in a church... many of them weeping... celebrating you and your life.  Kinda weird, if you ask me.

My Aunt Leslie and I were able to settle down on Tuesday evening and she very kindly treated me to a pedicure... a fancy, spa, red wine in one hand, massage chair controls in the other type of pedicure.  Later, I was able to sit down with her, my Uncle Dan, and my cousin Dan (L.D. for Little Dan) and eat a meal together.  The first meal I think any of us actually sat down to eat in a long while.  It was nice.  After some great conversation and a little bit of television watching - I was kindly driven to a nearby hotel where I would be meeting Matt after he arrived on his flight from LA.

Wednesday was sort of an off day for everyone... a day for everyone to take time for themselves.

On Thursday morning, we said one last good-bye to Baba.  She looked great.  I barely recognized her without her housecoat and slippers... wooden spoon in one hand, a pan of sauce in the other.  The funeral service was beautiful.  I realized the only other time I had been to a Catholic Mass was when she came to visit us in Dallas many many years ago.  I cried.  I cried for my aunts and my dad.  I cried for the loss of my grandmother.  I cried because the service was just so moving and incredibly touching.  And I cried at the grave site because it was the first time I was able to visit my grandfather, Yuyu, and my Uncle Rickie who passed away when I was 8.  As we all laid our purple and pink Gerber daisies and roses by the casket, I told Baba one more time how much I loved her... and how much I was going to miss her.

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Later on in the day, after the family ate lunch together at a local restaurant, Matt and I made the rounds in Lawrence.  Unfortunately for my jeans, my appetite was back... and being in a place with amazingly unique ethnic food, having just lost a grandparent, and being away from home for a week and a half... meant stocking up my tummy and the hotel fridge with everything I could possible round up.

Rice balls, a cheese crispelli, cannoli, meat pie... and Cherry Wheat Sam Adams made it back to the hotel that night.  I introduced Matt to the delight of Italian treats, paid for with CASH ONLY... and for the first time in almost two weeks - I was able to fall asleep fast and sleep deep until morning.


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