||[Oct. 14th, 2006|08:40 am]
Whee! Here I am in lovely Eden Prairie, Minnesota (a suburb of Minneapolis, I gather). With about six hours to kill before the wedding. I need to decide what I'm wearing and iron it, but I think I'm gonna have some time left over.
Well, if nothing else, I have books to read and computer games to play. I used to watch TV when hanging out in hotel rooms, but there's really nothing even remotely interesting on anymore. I'm debating whether I want to go do some shopping for the wedding presents I have so far failed to get, or whether it'd be better to just get them when I'm back home and know where to go. Shower and breakfast first, I suppose.
The trip back East was good. The leaves are turning, and on Wednesday it was overcast and grey, which made the colors vibrant and gorgeous in this way that's really hard to capture in a photo. Got to talk about just random stuff while driving around here and there with my Mom. I really enjoy those kinds of conversations, and for some reason they don't often happen over the phone.
We spent a fair chunk of time cleaning up the condo, because Grandpa Roy wasn't much of a housekeeper after Harriet died, and my uncle Hap has been busy with (underemployed) work. Lots of dusting.
Got to see the lovely Episcopal church they'll be having the memorial at. They moved it a mile or two up the road from its original location a couple decades ago. I got a little weepy in the memorial garden where some of his ashes will be buried, but mostly I was sort of background wistful rather than surface gloomy. That side of the family laughs in remembrance.
We started figuring out how to distribute things. Now that they're both gone, things that were given to them are mostly going back to the givers. There are also lots of paintings and drawings to distribute. My grandmother was a professional artist for many years, and while I always knew that intellectually, I hadn't ever made the connection that that means she painted a whole lot of paintings. I got a few wol rocks. She would collect little rounded pebbles and paint owls (wols) on them. I also got dibs on a couple lamps that remind me of their house in Canton.
We looked through lots of pictures. In her early pictures (teens and early twenties) Harriet doesn't really look like my grandmother, and I finally realized that it was because she hadn't started plucking her eyebrows yet. There's also this huge box of letters that they wrote back and forth to each other during WWII. Grandpa Roy went off to Europe when Harriet was pregnant with my Mom, and didn't get back until my Mom was almost 2.
Things change a lot in 55 years. I got to see my grandfathers old hard contact lenses, which are made of glass and about the size of a quarter. They're kinda scary. And there was a campus newspaper from when he went to college after the war. Not only is the writing style very different, there were ads for cigarettes on literally every other page and the main story was about the big Kake Walk social event ...which was done in blackface.
Got to visit with my aunt and cousins. Ate a bunch of tomatoes from their garden -- I always used to think I didn't like plain raw tomatoes, but it turns out that I really do like them, I'm just picky; I only like them if they're actually ripe off the vine. My cousin Graham wasn't flying in until the day I was leaving, but since he got in an hour or two before I was leaving, we got to hang out and see one another at the airport for a while.
Wednesday morning my uncle and I picked up my grandfather's ashes and then went and had breakfast at the diner he frequented regularly. Billy (my aunt's second husband and my younger cousins' dad, whom my aunt gets along with a lot better now that they're divorced, so he's still family even though Judy is married to Terry now) was delivering beer next door, and stopped in to say hey and treat us to breakfast. A cardboard box of human ashes is much heavier than you think it is!
I've decided that cremation is infinitely more practical than burial; not only is it a whole lot cheaper, it's more flexible. So we can bury some of the ashes in the memorial garden next to my grandmother's ashes, we can also scatter some on Mount Lemmon (with my grandmother's and her mother's), and some in the ocean, and some at the ski area, and keep some around, and we'll probably even have some buried with military honors at the national guard cemetary, since the government will pay for it. Which means that we'll be having family get-togethers in nice places to do it all, which I think is a nice form of remembrance.
Trying to remember if there was anything else interesting from the trip. Mom and I snapped at each other a little one morning while cleaning and my uncle observed, "You two argue like you're related." (Marriage-equivalent has taught me valuable skills, I conclude: first, let it sit until you're not upset before discussing, and second, "Have you eaten yet?" and "Do you need to take pills?" are generically useful responses to crabbitude.) Later on, we went to the store to pick some stuff up and Mom and I both had the same reaction: we wondered if the population out there was older because we saw so many elderly people, and then realized that DUH, it's 2 in the afternoon on a Tuesday! Of course most of the people out shopping are retired, everyone else is at work!
I found out that my great-great aunt Hazel was an artist also (a number of framed prints I didn't realize were hers), and that my great-grandmother worked for one of the first animators. There's a drawing of my grandmother done by some really famous cartoonist of the '20s. And there are photos of a ballerina hippopotamus that my grandmother built for a big department store display sitting on their front lawn.
Okay, I'm starting to ramble now. Time to get breakfast.