Monday, August 17, 2009

Possibly The Worst Weekend Ever

I survived the weekend!

The chaos started when my best friend called on Wednesday and told me that her mom had died. And then she cried... which she doesn't do, ever. But her family is very close, and her mom is the glue that holds them all together. She was diagnosed with stage 4 (I think) ovarian cancer four and a half years ago, and told she had three months to get her affairs in order. She fought, and won small battles, but cancer won the war.

My friend, M, is a bit of an odd duck and she doesn't have many friends. She didn't ask, but it was pretty clear that she needed me there. So I rearranged my schedule a bit to be home in Ohio for the funeral on Saturday. My original plan was to leave around noon from work and hit the road for home immediately. It's a 10 hour drive, if you don't dawdle around, and it's very hard to not start stalling getting back into the car after about hour six. Of course, when I left at nearly one, I was in such a foul mood from work that I literally didn't trust myself behind the wheel of the car for very long. So I went to the studio, and ended up spending nearly six hours playing. It was SSOOOOOO nice to just relax and spend time with people I can be me around. Then my friend P brought my asshole boss in to tour the studio. Nice. I have scads more pictures, but that's another post.

This was the highpoint of the drive back: a tanker of coffee! I nearly followed him wherever he was going! Then I realized it was gasoline, and the coffee was a lie and I continued off in my own direction after recording it for posterity, of course.

The point is that I finally headed out for Ohio at around 8:30 Friday night. I got to my aunt's house around 6:30 Saturday morning and crashed into bed for a couple of hours. By 10:30 am, I was at the funeral home, and then the processional to the church started about 11:00. M's mom was devotely Catholic, and the ceremony reflected that. It was a beautiful service, all three and a half hours of it. Then we all went across the property to their community center thing and had lunch there. I was SO glad that another of M's friends managed to make it or I would have been distinctly alone.

M was raised in a very close, very strict Catholic home. Then she went to live on campus for college, where freedom was a very heady thing. At break, she'd go home, and her parents, especially her dad, tried very hard to cram her back into the same strict mold. After weeks of total freedom, and doing what you want when you want to, it's very hard to go back to a 9:30 curfew. Her parents, for all that we don't agree on practically anything, did a very good job with her - her rebellion was very tame compared to most. But somewhere along the line, her parents decided that I was the sole reason for their daughter's unwillingness to toe the line. They hate me. At one point, I think her mom truly believed that I was the anti-christ, here to tempt their daughter from the path of righteousness. I have a feeling that M let them think that a lot of stuff was my fault, or idea, because I made an easy fall guy and it saved her from some of the confrontation.

So when her dad hugged me at the funeral home, I knew that the stars were definitely out of alignment. At the church after the procession, we were all kind of milling around and a woman came up to me and asked if I was Ericka. Um. Yes. Turns out the lady was M's aunt on her dad's side. She was a very nice lady, and she made of point of saying, several times, how important it was to M that I was there. Clearly, this was even more important to her than I realized.

After lunch ended, around 4:30, M, her brother and her dad went back to the funeral home to pick stuff up and I headed over to M's house to let her dog out. Shadow is mostly black lab, which something drooley mixed in for good measure. After the morning, playing with the puppy was very good. *sigh* Shadow is aging - her muzzle is grey now, and she struggles with the steps but she's still a very enthusiastic lap dog once she's off the staircase.

She had to go back over to her dad's later so I didn't stay long. I felt so bad for her, and then she said something about wanting to be done with sadness for the day. She just wanted to sit on her couch with me, drink wine and watch Spongebob. Unfortunately, that wasn't going to happen this weekend, but it's a date for later.

After I left her house, I went back to my aunt and uncle's place, changed clothes and then headed out to mom and dad's... where I met their surprise for me: Max. Mom picked him up at the pound last week and surprised dad with a dog! The vet thinks Max is three or four. They found him wandering and picked him up. He's now fixed (as of the day Mom picked him out) and current on shots.

Very late, I stumbled back to my aunt's to sleep. Finally, blessed sleeep. Then Sunday, I met mom and dad over at my grandmother's house. Mom's getting ready for the estate sale, and it's a good thing Grams isn't around 'cause if she saw the house in the state it's in right now, she would kill my mother. There are stacks of boxes everywhere. Mom assures me that there is an order to it. I wish mom would just have a service do it, 'cause Grams had a lot of really really nice stuff and mom has no clue about that sort of thing. She can identify a bird or a flower from 50 paces heading the other way, but Avon and Tiffany are indistinguishable to her. I know mom's doing it herself, and she gets overwelmed but there's a lot that she just gave up on going through and shoved it in the 'sell' stack, which I think is a mistake. Also, she's dumping glassware together in plastic bags and then dragging it around. Maybe it's the gardening or something but she's just a bull in a china shop, slinging stuff around - a lot of it is all the ceramics that Grams made, and completely irreplaceable. You'd think she's be a bit careful.

So that was a fun five hours. Dad and Max came too, and were bored stiff. Max got many walks. Mom says nothing is wrong and they are fine, but she's got a tone in her voice when she talks to dad that makes me very tempted to hit her. And dad didn't manage an entire sentence without her interrupting him. After he tried to say something and she interrupted him four times and he took the dog for another walk and she said something snippy about him leaving, I kinda went off on her about it. She claims that she didn't know she was interrupting him. My response was something along the lines of, "so you aren't listening to anything he says? nice."

Between the smoking, and the fighting between her and dad, and mom and that dog competing for "biggest klutz, glass division" I was an exhausted ball of tension by the time I finished packing the jeep and we left. Also, total sleep deprivation and forgetting to eat equalled headache from hell. And my brother is in an apparent state of denial - he won't go over or take anything from the house, so mom's just boxing it up to get rid of. Some stuff, it's too late - she's already given it away. But now that she's got this tag sale idea in her head, everything is going into sell piles so there's still a chance to save it. So in addition to the things I cared about (And gods, I feel like such a vulture, picking over Grams' stuff. She should be in her house, with her stuff. This is horrible.) I am also scavenging for my brother. I'll put them away for him and when he's ready, I'll haul it back out.

From there, we ate then went to mom and dad's. Mom had most of Grams' jewelry packed up to send to me, except for the stuff she forgot in a drawer, so I went through all of that, got to see Scott briefly and then left from there to head back here around 8:00 pm. The Garmin continues to conspire against me. A case in point? This was on a major highway:

I drove through to North Carolina, then pulled into the welcome center and fell asleep for a couple of hours. I was awake in time for my 8:00 am conference call this morning. After I arrived here, I unloaded the jeep, showered and then headed into work. *yawn* I'm very tired, and my entry is trashed - piles of stuff everywhere...

One thing - I found a clock that I'd never seen before. Who knows where/when Grams got it, but it's a beautiful Seth Thomas mantle clock. It needs love - the nut that holds the hands on is gone, as is the pendulum ball but it's going to look great once I find someone to help me with it. Know anyone that's good with old clocks?

In the meantime, I'm so tired that I can barely move. Off to bed with me, and I hope your weekend was better than mine.


Island Rider said...

I know it feels like a bad weekend, but if you pick through it, like your gram's stuff, there are some things in it that are good and salvageable. You helped your friend, built some bridges with her family. Got to see your mom and dad's dog who will be a bright spot when you go back to visit again. Managed to save some of your gram's stuff for you and your brother. How cool is that that your gram was also a craftsperson making ceramics. Think it might have had some influence on you? In time, when the fatigue and headache goes away, you'll see the bright spots. You are a very good friend, sister and granddaughter.

Floridacracker said...

Ouch! That was a tough one.
At least there were dogs involved to lighten the mood some.

Anonymous said...

Max is quite the handsome fellow!

Otherwise, I second what Island Rider said. Family stuff can get weird, and stress seems to magnify weirdness.

Save what you can from your Gram, but remember that "stuff" is just... stuff. No one can sell, donate, or throw away your memories.

Suldog said...

Nice dog, you did a friend a huge and wonderful service by being there for her, and you got a swell clock! Not too bad, overall :-)