Today Darren and I will make the four hour drive out to Lake Benton, MN to join the rest of my family at my grandpa's visitation and funeral. It's not a short drive, but I can't complain, since I have cousins driving to MN from as far away as Los Angeles.
The visitation is late this afternoon, followed by a family dinner at what passes for a fine dining restaurant in a town of 650 people. The funeral is at 10:00 tomorrow morning. My sisters and I will be pallbearers, as will Darren, two cousins of mine, and the husband of one of my cousins. I'll need to remember to take my Valium in the morning. I'm not at all fond of appearing in any kind of official or ceremonial role, brief though it may be. (Gotta love that social anxiety.)
Funerals are strange events. On the one hand, they're obviously very sad occasions, but on the other, there's often much laughter as long-separated family members reconnect and reminisce. I know that my aunt Gerelyn and I will get the giggles many times together in the next day, as we have done since I was a little boy.
I think perhaps the oddest part of the funeral will be sitting in St. Genevieve's Catholic church while looking out the window at the house that my grandparents shared for fifty years. Strangers live there now.
The house is directly across the street from the church, elevated on a steep bluff that affords the house a spectacular view of the surrounding countryside for miles. When I was a child, I used to look down from the front porch window of the house and see my grandparents sitting in their usual pew during services. They attended Mass six or seven days a week. My grandpa never understood why I didn't jump at the chance to go as often. He was a kindly gent, but he never really grasped what makes kids tick.
I wonder if the backs of the pews still have squeaky little hinged hat-holders affixed to them. I used to fiddle with them in church. Squeak, squeak, squeak.
We'll be back home tomorrow evening. Too bad we can't skip ahead 36 hours.