Sunday, February 01, 2009

Back from the Funeral

Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers. We got back home yesterday evening. It was a whirlwind visit but overall a positive experience.

We had been worried about the weather, because earlier in the week, a huge ice storm had dumped all over Western Tennessee, Kentucky, and Indiana. We got only rain from that storm, and while Nashville had some ice, it was all gone by the time we drove through. But as we proceeded north, things really changed. At first, it was just some ice on the treetops. Then, we saw some snow on the ground too. Then, it was ice all over the trees, with a little snow, followed by ice and more and more snow. By the time we got to Evansville, there was ice and at least a foot of snow.

The roads were scary in places. We could see lots of severely damaged guard rails by the sides of the roads, and tire tracks that led down into ditches. At one point, we even saw a truck trailer that looked like it had been cracked in two, like an egg. And a person a couple of minutes ahead of us took an icy section of road too quickly and rolled before coming to a stop, as evidenced by the vehicle's crushed side mirrors. They were just getting hooked up to a tow truck as we passed.

The storm had knocked out power throughout the region. There were towns in Western Kentucky that were completely dark. The gas stations that had electricity had long lines of cars waiting at them, while the ones without power looked like ghost towns. The hotel where we had originally planned to stay in Evansville was without power, so my dad scrambled around and found us all a new place to stay. It was hard to find a place with any rooms, because many Evansville residents were staying in hotels while their power was out. My Evansville-resident family were also without power, but they were able to stay at home or with other relatives (from the other side of their family).

After some white-knuckle driving, successfully performed by my highly skilled better half, we arrived Thursday evening in time for the visitation. It was really amazing to see all the family members who were there. Out of all my generation, only two blood relatives were missing (out of 20 or so). They came in from as far away as the west coast and Europe. It was heartwarming to see them all.

During the funeral service on Friday, we all got a chance to speak about my grandmother. The minister characterized her as "slow but determined" and "small but mighty." Everyone agreed that she was a very loving and generous person, known for her love of family and works of charity.

My sister Rachel wrote the most lyrical poem in Grandma's honor. I managed to remain pretty straight-faced during the whole funeral (having done most of my mourning the previous weekend), but her poem really hit home and brought tears to my eyes. I could never do it justice, but suffice it to say that every word in the sonnet she wrote was carefully crafted and perfectly chosen. She was able to express in those fourteen lines what I would have wanted to say but could never have expressed in a million. They are going to make a plaque of the poem and put it in a special garden dedicated to the memory of my grandmother, in the family arboretum.

We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening with the family in the fellowship hall of the church, sharing pizza and catching up with each other. There is really no substitute for family at a sad time like this.

Friday evening, I persuaded my dad to borrow some swim trunks from one of his brothers and help me take Vinny on his first swim, in the hotel swimming pool. At first, Vinny didn't quite know what to make of the swimming pool, so we just sat him on the side and let him kick and splash. But after he saw Grandpa get in the water, he decided to try it too. Mostly, Dad and I just held him and jumped up and down in the water. We also let him "swim" between us by passing him from person to person. He had the greatest time, and cried a lot when it was time to go. The next morning, he was asking to go swimming again. This tells me that I need to sign him and myself up for baby/parent swimming lessons.

Coming home yesterday, the roads were not nearly as treacherous as they were on Thursday. It was really good to be home and to sleep in my own bed again last night.

1 comment:

ScienceGirl said...

Your Grandmother sounds like a wonderful person, someone who has had a full life and made a mark in so many lives. I am glad that you and so many of your family were able to make it safely despite the weather, and that you had a chance to remember your Grandmother together.