Tag Archives: funeral

I Wouldn’t Cry At Her Funeral

14 Jul

My neighbor died recently. She was eighty-something widow, mother of two sons, and several grandkids. I didn’t know much beyond that because she was crazy, raving b#&$h.

I recently looked back at one of my posts which talked about discovering people dead in their houses years after they died. Our neighbor Michelle had a stroke and somehow notified the ambulance hours after it happened. She lived alone, went out once a day at 3 pm, watered her plants in the backyard, got in her car, and came back at 4 pm (I’m guessing grocery shopping). She checked her mail occasionally, but otherwise, I didn’t see her.

Frankly, that was fine with me. I hadn’t talked to her in years. In fact, I deliberately went out of my way NOT to talk to her. Our neighborly relationship started off okay; saying hi while passing, mentioning when something was broken. However, it was obvious she was a person who focused on the negative. When I was smoking my pipe in my backyard, she asked me if I could smoke it on the other side. I obliged. But when I was smoking while working on my laptop, she came out and starting watering her plants. She decided to splash me with her hose… with my $2000 laptop on me!

To quote Bugs Bunny, “You realize, this means war.” This lead to escalation between us – passing insults, dumping crap on her windshield – eventually this led to me shouting at her which led to my wife shouting at her. After that, we just agreed, “Screw her. We don’t need her in our life. I smoked on the other side of the backyard and never talked to her again. If we had to communicate to her for some reason, we called her son. Interestingly enough, he came over to our house, introduced himself, and gave us his number… you got the impression he knew who his mother was.

We saw the ambulance; my wife found out from her son she had a stroke. We prayed for her recovery–even though I hated her–but she didn’t make it and died a week later. We didn’t ask to attend her funeral; frankly, I think the neighborhood is a better place without her. I think she had been waiting to die for decades.

I try not to hate anybody, but sometimes, someone just rubs you the wrong way. Michelle was not a person who got along to get along; as far as I could tell, she didn’t talk to anyone outside her family. Certainly no one else visited, apart from repairmen. She could have easily been someone whose body wouldn’t have been discovered for two weeks.

In our neighborhood, there was also one house that was always shuttered up. I mean metal shutters over the windows, signs to tell everyone to stay out, and so many security cameras that it was overkill. It had been that way since we moved in seven years ago. My theory was that it was a snowbird who got too old to travel back and forth (like my grandparents), but never got around to selling it. He must have died because they just recently renovated it and make it really amazing looking. Did his neighbors ever wonder if there was a mummified body in Mr. Paranoid’s house?

My point? Make your platitude your attitude! No… wait, ah, what about “Life is chaos, be kind?” There’s so much hate or reason to be angry in the world – it costs you nothing to be polite. Then maybe people will come to your funeral; maybe people will wonder where you are.

End of Watch

7 Jun

I’ve never been to a police memorial before–and I’m not sure this qualifies–but I got to attend the barbeque benefit for a fallen officer recently. It was an interesting experience and gave me a look into a world that I rarely step into.

Now that I work for the government. we get a lot more notices of what’s going on around “our fair city.” On Memorial Day, Officer Ginarro New of the Phoenix Police Department was hit by a driver running a red light at a high rate of speed. Bam. Dead at 27, after serving in the military, and two years as a police officer.

Not what I was expecting–certainly what you are expecting. The police union decided to host a fundraiser at their building, which as it turned out, was within walking distance of my workplace. First thing that struck me as unusual was that the fundraiser was being held from 10 am to 10 pm. It only struck me later was that was to be open to police officers whose shifts would overlap those times.

I got there around 2 pm (because my shift is set a little later so I can drop off my kids in the AM) to see a fire truck hanging a giant American flag and a digital billboard, and folks grilling away happily and collecting donations for the family. The place was packed. There were plenty of cops there–I was expecting that–a couple of firemen, but there was lots of families. Big kids, small kids, moms… even some folks I didn’t expect. Apparently I sat right behind the grieving family.

The actual food and drink was available in… what could have only been a garage originally, but was now a storage place / workout area / general storage area. Obviously it was a cooler place out of the sun. I walked right in and there were two lines of people waiting for food. Apparently the demand was so great that the grill couldn’t keep up with the number of burgers and franks the guests wanted!

However, eventually everyone got fed, it was a nice atmosphere. Everyone was friendly and glad to be helping out. It’s something I hadn’t seen in a while. However, I could just be out of touch–what do you think? Let me know in the comments below! Then check out one of my books. However, if $1.99 is too steep for your wallet, go ahead and download one of my stories for free. You’ll be glad you did.

Double Vision in your Hometown

14 Aug

Going back to your hometown is like having double vision; you see things the way they are and the way they were at the same time. Now add wind storm damage, lack of power, a pandemic, and a funeral.

So I grew up in Morrison from 7 to 17, and lived off and on between college and jobs until I was 23. So it’s been twenty years away from this place; you don’t really appreciate it until you leave. I had such a case of wanderlust that it never occurred to me to stay. Now I wish I could go back, but time and circumstance make that very difficult… And may never happen.

But I got to show my son around and tell him all the fun stories about growing up here. Showed him the park, the old factory, my old homes… Actually found the school buildings open so a quick look at the high school, middle school, and elementary schools I went to was interesting. Most of them still have the 1960s shell, but have either been renovated or added on to. Even found a door open to the auditorium, so I could show him the massive (for the town) stage that we had… And that spoke to his little theater geek heart.

The funeral was nice and weird. Got to show Asher the church I grew up at which has a lot of really cool stuff and secret places. Even played some ping pong; the boy really wanted to go back. We were all masked in the sanctuary, we didn’t sing the hymns, but the preacher was great. Then we drove to the cemetery and interred her there. Then I dragged him around to visit my mom’s grave, my grandpa’s, my good friend’s, and my brother’s.

And that’s probably the reason I don’t come back very often. Most of the folks I knew are gone. When you move around as much as I did, you realize that it’s not the places you miss as much as the people. So when my mom died in 1993, followed by my brother is 1996, I had less and less incentive to return. My cousin still lives here, and he’s wonderful, but my uncles and aunts are spread out more. There’s always an excuse not to come.

The preacher said that she really didn’t know my grandma that well (he arrived 14 years ago and she became less and less talkative after grandpa died 12 years ago), but he knew who she was because he knew her kids and family. That was a great tribute. The family loves readily, laughs easily, helps out others, slow to anger, and slow to forgive… and that came all from my grandma. Not perfect, but wonderful, and with six children, fourteen grandchildren, and 22 great grandchildren to show for it.


13 Aug

Crossed Iowa and finally got home to Northwest Illinois only to find that the Deracho ™ completely messed up my hometown and knocked out power and cell phone service. So I had traveled 24 hours to reach a disaster zone.

Somehow, the last 6 hours of the trip were the worst, more likely because I was tired of driving so long. We stopped in Iowa City for lunch, watching all the college students buying supplies out of the local Target. Think about that for a second. College students are back physically at school. Too dangerous for high schoolers, just fine for kids one year older. That speaks for itself.

So we reach Morrison and see… Well, this. Trees had fallen all over due to 100 mile winds, messing up power lines, throwing the entire turn black. We made it to the visitation all right and said hi to the family. After a half hour, the boy got bored, so I took him on a walk of (one of my) old neighborhoods and even ran into my good friend’s mom sitting on her porch with her grandson. So had a good conversation.

The place we’re staying still has no power, but we made do on movies we had already downloaded and battery power. (Neither of us brought physical books, so we were at a disadvantage.) Hung out with a friend and my cousin before crashing in front of the “TV.”

Power is still out in the morning, but it did get restored to half of town. My situation is unusual, because of the wind storm, but what did you do when your family last lost power. Let me know in the comments below!

The Long Road Home (Part 2)

12 Aug

Here’s where things are gonna suck. A 14 hour drive across the Great Plains to reach our next destination. And then Google suggests an alternative to the interstates.

Naturally, I’m a little suspicious. But we get up early… Okay, I get up early and drag my son out of bed… And then we got the road at 6 am Mountain time. So that’s an estimated arrival at my dad’s place in Nebraska by 8 pm. Not looking forward to this trek.

One thing I’m shocked by is how green the Llano Estancado is. Knowing how little rain gets to Eastern New Mexico and West Texas, I’m expecting Arizona levels of desert. Nope, green as far as the eye can see. Apparently, not enough water for crops, but plenty for grass!

I turn off the interstate at Tucumcari, NM, and am pleasantly surprised. We’ve got hills, we’ve got scenery, we’ve got… A two lane highway, but hey, I’m thankfully not behind too many trucks. We cross the panhandle of Texas and Oklahoma no problem.

Even Asher was doing great on this leg of the trip! We’re doing fine until Kansas when we realize a) how frickin big Kansas is and b) remember that summer means construction. We get stuck behind three one lane roads, one for twenty minutes, so that throws off my estimate.

However, once we reach Nebraska and have to cut across country roads (still US highways), things get easier. Mostly because I can beat the estimate thanks to driving way over the speed limit in this rural area.

I forgot how beautiful this region is. You get a very sckewed view of how the Great Plains look from the interstate. It’s really quite beautiful once you get off it. As my Dad says, “Nebraskans made I-80 the most boring stretch of road so that no one would be tempted to stop and stay.”

Made it to my dad’s place at 8:30 pm, safe and sound, and had a great time talking and relaxing. Have you ever been surprised on a road trip? Tell me about it in the comments below!

The Long Road Home (Part 1)

11 Aug

My grandmother died on Friday – her and my grandfather were my surrogate parents in college, so I’m driving home to Illinois with my son to go to her funeral. From Phoenix, that’s 24 hours of driving… Ain’t this gonna be fun.

The first leg is not too bad. Cut through the mountains northeast until you hit interstate. It’s a lot of windy road which made my son sick. Then once we got Payson, we just fed him, and he was fine. Then through the Rim Country and you hit the high desert.

There’s a whole lot of flat for a while. Then you hit New Mexico, with the mesa and pueblo which is quite beautiful. Heading through Navajo country (largest reservation in the US) and several smaller rezs, I was drawn to gas and cheap tobacco at one of the stops only to find everything but the gas closed due to COVID-19! You put up twenty signs lauding this place and you didn’t think to put up one that says you’re closed?!

Then we got Albuquerque, which is absolutely gorgeous from a distance, and went to my brother in law’s place. He and his lady were so nice to us.

We even broke out the padded swords and let Uncle and Nephew play for a bit. It’s a good start to the trip. Of course, this is the easy part!

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