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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Random Funeral Trip Notes

I may have slipped into randomness lately, due to an overloaded mind and heart.  For proof, see my recent “Miscellania” blog posting.  Now that I’m back from fly- fly- fly there… FUNERAL… fly- fly- fly back jaunt, I’ll give you brief observations and snippets, and then probably go and take a nap.  Inbetween laundry, packing up the kids for camp, and getting ready to drive another long drive.

Thank you to Benedetto for keeping the home fires going while I was gone, managing my empires (right), and letting the dogs speak with me on the phone, while handling all of his own responsibilities.

1.  The funeral was very special.  Delayed until we could all arrive, it was a cultural experience for sure.  Held in the Russian language, occasionally with interpretation for my brother who speaks no Russian, I think in the final analysis, he might have gotten more of the drift of what was being said than I, lol.

2.  Lots of people spoke and called my father “a true hero”.  They told of how he had touched their lives and encouraged themselves or their children in this or that endeavor.  He told many jokes in his lifetime, none of which my brother or I ever thought were funny, but apparently many other people did.  I thought that was very sweet of them.  He was caught numerous times throughout his life slipping money to children, much like some would use lollipops.  I remember him slipping money to me when Benedetto and I, as young adults, would visit my parents.  Somehow, I always thought they liked Benedetto better.

3.  Teens and twenty-somethings attended the funeral, as well as the expected older crowd.  The demographic spread was remarkable.  Everyone liked my father.  (Note to self:  hand out money wherever you go.)  They didn’t speak about money, but instead, that my father always had an uplifting and positive word for them.  They enjoyed being around him.

4.  My family sent flowers and they arrived at the same moment that I did.  The delivery man asked if I could sign for them.  I had my brother sign.

5.  Everyone wanted to say something.  When one young man rambled on, an older man called out, “Bweestrah!  Bweestrah!” (faster, faster) to get him to conclude.  The indoor service lasted 2.5 hours.

6.  When I spoke, I broke down once as I mentioned something special about my father.  I thought that was pretty good, all things considered.  There was a slight disadvantage in that I followed my brother and…

7.  My brother prayed twice, at the beginning and the ending of his eulogy.  This was rather remarkable.  You see, my brother doesn’t pray.  Or didn’t.  But maybe now he does.  My father would have been so proud.  This made me a little teary.  Okay, a lot teary, which was a problem because…

8.  The only kleenex I brought with me were pocket kleenex with Snoopy up at bat, wearing a baseball cap.  Rather inappropriate for a funeral.  The kids had bought me some sort of Caspari kleenex over the holidays that were very elegant, but I couldn’t locate them in the mad dash to throw things into an overnight bag and my oversized purse.

9.  Things I eliminated from my purse before travel:  two zip-locks of dog food (I kid you not), my oldest son’s Passport (doubles as his I.D. for college-level tests until he gets his driver’s license, either that, or the two of us are planning a quick get-away), numerous fast-food napkins for emergencies, and lots of extra change in the wallet.  I still have a doggie poo-poo bag or two, I thought it best to leave those in place for any future events.

10.  Did you know that airlines no longer pre-board infants and children?  I guess with our own plane, and doing lots of driving for shorter distances, I’m out of touch.  From my observations, the boarding process is now:  First Class, Frequent Fliers, Zone 1, Zone 2, Infants and Children, Zone 3, and Zone4.  Except on airlines that board the back of the plane first, which naturally allows those folks in the back to grab all of the forward overhead bins.  And we all know that the war of the overhead bins will not be ending anytime soon, because…

11.  People carry way too much stuff with them.  And it’s all the airlines’ fault because now you have to pay for checked bags.  So the passengers shlep it all with them.  Which then falls on my head when I try to open the already-stuffed overhead bin, and there’s not even anyone sitting nearby.  Hmmm.

12.  I tried to go “carry-on only”, rather than admit that I need 12 steamer trunks in tow, even if it’s technically for one overnight.  Disaster.  They seized my hairspray.  I had forgotten and tossed it in the bag, not remembering that this was a dangerous object.  All of the toiletries were in their proper 2-3 ounce size, in a plastic bag.  Make that two plastic bags.  I need a lot of toiletries.  I even left most of my hair stuff at home, which meant…

13.  I was in a strange city, driving miles to locate a hair salon.  All I needed was a shampoo and blow-dry.  The hairdresser did okay, but not great.  The hair needed to be pulled straighter than straight.  This was high humidity and over 108 degrees.  I had my hot rollers with me and a small purse-sized hairspray, so I later tried to whip it into shape and not further scare any funeral attendees by having the bereaved daughter arrive… with a blond Afro.

14.  All went well for about the first hour of the funeral.  We were in an indoor pavilion-like chapel, surrounded by glass windows, sun pouring in, 108 degrees outside, and no airconditioning!  Unreal.  As the sweat drops poured off of us and I thought cool thoughts, I wondered if it would be wrong to pray to die, right then and there.

15.  Off to the graveside for about 20 minutes of prayer and Scripture reading, minor-chord Russian songs lifting toward heaven, sun beating down, a sweet babushka (grandmotherly type) came and rested her cheek against mine.  I patted the other side of her cheek and held her close.  Somehow, that summed up the day.  Attendees poured past us, proclaiming blessings on us as the next generation.  Very moving.

16.  We all shared a meal together afterward.  Again, a car caravan ensuring my brother and I not become lost.  Dear people from all over.  After having lived on whole-wheat-and-cheese crackers and one tuna-salad-and-cracker combo over the course of several days of travel, I  finally ate well before heading for the airport.

17.  Concerning food:  be prepared when traveling these days.  You will probably not even see pretzels, except for First Class these days.  Only transcontinental flights offer anything approximating meals or snacks.  Once, I did find a cup of strawberries and blueberries for sale in an airport, and enjoyed them. The rest of the airports pretty much offered only high-fat, high-calorie junk food.

When I woke up at 3:00 am in my hotel, bone-tired, yet still awake due to jet lag, I waited till 5:00 am to enjoy a bit of breakfast, pulling out my tuna-and-cracker combo.  The pull tab on the tuna salad… pulled off.  Having no sharp objects with me, I hacked at the heavy-duty aluminum top with clips from my rollers.  Survivor woman.  The tuna salad was really not bad, a little sugar probably added, which was new for me.

On the final flight for four hours, it was nighttime and we were not even offered a beverage.  Thankfully, I had bought a bottle of water in the terminal.  Moral of the story:  be prepared.

18.  Thinking of my children, I knew of the time spent each week with my dad via Skype. I wondered if I could buy a little something for them as a souvenir of the city where we had visited him almost one year ago.  On the way to the airport, I stopped at an older part of the town and bought some of those commemorative coins where you put in a coin and it mashes it into a picture of the area.  I literally had five minutes to spare.

Then at the airport, I bought each of them hooded sweatshirts, heavy, thick, and soft to remind them of the city, its name plastered across the front.  The boys’ resembled collegiate lettering on dark grey backgrounds, the girls’ tops had cursive writing on dark fuchsia.  Hoodies were not my thing, but this was for the kids and I knew they would love them as cherished memories.

Flying to a third city overnight, the family met me as they were enroute themselves.  Dogs, children, everyone awoke at 6:00 am in fog and darkness as Mama climbed in the car door.  We were together again, the sun having risen and set on my father’s life, leaving us a wonderful legacy for the future.

 

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2 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar hoonew says:

    May all our funerals be so well attended! He must have been a remarkable man, Alexandra.

    • avatar admin says:

      It was something else, hoonew, thanks! What a special time for us to hear others’ recollections of him.