Sep 1, 2011

Brain Dump

The past week or so has been a little crazy. The family at large rolled in late last week and we buried Grandpa's ashes on Saturday, followed by a memorial service at the old-folks home he lived at. (Yeah, yeah, "assisted living facility" ... it still smells of Bengay.) The service was good, positive, and some unexpected attendees were there. Grandpa's barber closed shop for the afternoon to come - he passed up income to pay respects. There aren't enough like him left in the world.

After the memorial service we all changed to human clothes and started the process of packing and sorting his apartment. A lot of it had already been done by one of Grandpa's sons (my uncle) and his wife - they did a tremendous amount of work, taking clothes to the Salvation Army, disposing of old newspapers, and the like - and labeling items that already had been claimed.

There were a few minor meltdowns along the way, and one major, but that wasn't unexpected. We finally stopped moving furniture to storage around 9, loaded a few more boxes into cars, and had dinner around 10. Sunday morning we all slept in, had a late brunch, and then dug in again.

We were really hitting the smaller stuff at this point, and making claims to things we wanted - and doing so remarkably well. There had been talk of selling Grandpa's coin collection as a lot and splitting the money; I spoke up and took that. He has some fascinating coins, and likely some valuable stuff. I cleaned out a drawer in his dresser of all sorts of small stuff - his 1930s-vintage Boy Scout rank cards, a box full of pocket knives, his daily journal from 1945-49, and so forth. Sitting in the bottom of the drawer was a bag full of 1960s JFK half-dollars, and a few loose coins - including an 1842 US penny. I'm looking forward to sorting through the rest of the collection over the coming months, and reading his journal. (Entry on the day my father was born: "Went to bed around 2 am, got up and took cab to Presby. Hosp. around 5, sat in reception until..." etc.)

Most of the family has departed, although there's a bit more furniture to move, and MrsZ and I are trying to figure out where our new stuff is going to go.

Work has been a bit ... well ... nuts. The kids are back in town, and call volume has increased commensurately. BBHIS has been crazy-busy with people outfitting dorm rooms and apartments, and contractors trying to get the last few projects in while the weather holds.

Speaking of weather ... Irene. Sounds like we dodged a bit of a bullet on this one. The track had been pretty consistently east of us, so I wasn't terribly worried; nonetheless I made sure we had full cans for the generator and tanks in the cars and picked up a few extra cases of water. We ended up with a morning of steady wind and about two inches of rain. No big deal. Out east of us, things didn't turn out so well. That said, we're doing what Yankees do - picking up the pieces and getting on with life as best we can. My thoughts are with those who have lost so much - good luck to them.

And finally, this line from Tam has been provoking much thought lately:
"Dude, where's my country?"

Tam, it's all around you. Yep, things are in rough shape. The economy sucks. Our liberties are being trampled upon left and right. But it's still America. I'm still proud to say, "I'm an American." I don't think we're past the point of no return - but it's an uphill battle and it's not going to be pretty.

Tam also writes:
Except people being interviewed are saying things like "...and then 9/11 happened...", like it was an earthquake or blizzard, and " husband died...", like he'd just had a little myocardial infarction at his desk one fine autumn day. 
That's easy: the attacks of 9/11 *are* like earthquakes and blizzards. They affect all of us, but are beyond the ability of any one individual to control, avoid, or prevent. And "my husband died" is simply trying to cope with something that is generally beyond our realm of reference. For a grieving widow, what's easier to say? "My husband died" (like he had a heart attack) or "My husband was murdered" (and either died in an jet-fuel-fed inferno, or chose to jump 90-odd stories, or rode those 90 stories down and was crushed)?

Is it self-deception? Yes. Is it acceptable? Yes. It's a coping mechanism. The person who is coping in this method knows - absolutely and unequivocally - how their loved one died. But I can't fault them for trying to find some solace in it, and perhaps making the mention of it less likely to create uncomfortable situations in conversation.
Grandpa's funeral was good, small storm, people deal.


North said...

Sorry about your grandfather.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry that you had to lose a grandfather this year, as well.

Old NFO said...

Good post, and all good points. He may be gone, but you WILL remember him through the journal and the coins... I'm sure he would like that. And yeah, we deal... not many other choices!