I sure didn’t think it would go quite like this when I decided to take a trip to Canada to bury my Grandpa and then spend some time with my family.
Day 1: Instead of starting out Friday morning, the boys decide they want to leave Thursday evening. No problem, it will knock a few hours off the next day which was going to be a 15 hour drive. Pack up, remember meds; leave the house at 9:00pm. Drive almost 4 hours while the boys sleep and stop at a rest stop along the highway to get some sleep.
Day 2: Get up and get going; enjoy the scenery of western North Dakota. Cross the border in to Canada and get to my sister’s house. My first time here and I am given the tour by her four year old daughter. What a great place; beautiful home, huge yard, amazing garden. Boys and their cousin blow off some energy before lunch and the next leg of our journey.
Drive 45 minutes to my sister’s doctor’s office for an OB appointment. At 37 weeks pregnant she isn’t even telling the doctor we are travelling to Grandpa’s funeral…and remembers to pack the car seat and diaper bag just in case…
Drive 4.5 hours after appointment to where my grandparents live. We check in to hotel and relax for a bit before heading over to Grandma’s place…we debated going for supper before heading over there but I want to see Grandma and get through the initial struggle of not being greeted by Grandpa when we walk in the door…I also know there will be plenty of food there and don’t want to pay to eat when there is free food.
Visit with cousins, aunts, uncles, and Grandma; some I have not seen since my Grandpa’s brother passed away six year earlier and we gathered for his funeral. B2 is now nearly 7, he was six months old when we were here last.
My mom and four brother’s show up, I have not seen them in three years…best feeling EVER…the years just melted away. If somebody had been watching they probably would have thought this was just an ordinary meeting, the love, the insults, the inside jokes, the poking, the ‘inside gossip’ was in full swing. Laughter…I’m sure they could hear us three blocks away from Grandma’s house.
Back to the hotel for bedtime…my boys are worn out. Get them to bed and stand in my sister’s (child number 7) doorway with her and her husband and brother number 3 (child number 5). The giggling and talking and stories are killing us…with laughter. No idea where brother number 4 is (child number 6) but we know that the potential for an excruciatingly drunk night for a few of the kids is likely in order…#7 is pregnant so she’s out, I’m and alcoholic…so I’m safe. We figure out who is staying in which rooms (there are four rooms for 18 of us). The giggles and idle threats of violence between brother’s who have a recent troubled history ensure they will NOT be sharing a room…we figure it all out and while some go out gambling, I take my boys and #7’s daughter (the four year old) and we go to bed in one room.
Day 3: Boys want to swim but pool does not open until 10am. After an initial mope they are revived by the promise of swim time before the funeral service at 2:00pm. We go for breakfast (15 of us) and the stories and giggles continue. We return to the hotel by noon and the boys and I are in the pool within minutes. We play and splash, and kill some time just being us. When it’s time we run up to our room and bath, shower, dress. Boys are just in shorts and t-shirts, and I get dressed up a little.
We are the last of my mom’s posse to arrive at the funeral home. We are again meeting and greeting family that has not seen the boys and I for six years or more. B1 takes random pictures of people and then B2 asks where Grandpa is. I take him in to the chapel and he begins taking pictures of more random people and the urn where my Grandpa rests. I explain about cremation and that like a log in a campfire, grandpa’s body is now just ashes. Next B1 asks for the same thing and I take him to the front and have the same talk with him. I am so proud of my boys and their thoughtful questions.
The service is wonderful. While not a religious man, he admitted that he would be a fool if he didn’t believe in something. There’s one thing my grandpa was not…and that’s a fool. B1 was seated beside me and B2 was on my knee. When he saw me crying he took a tissue and blotted my tears. When I became even more emotional as the service went on he leaned over and whispered to his big brother, “I knew we shouldn’t have come here.” When B1 said it was a funeral for my grandpa and we had to be here B2 replied, “But she’s so friggen sad and I can’t stop it!” He continues to wrap his arm around my neck and wipe my tears…I am so blessed to have kids with such big hearts.
Just two weeks earlier a childhood friend of mines 17 year old son passed away. When I got the news I was crying and the boys come in to the bedroom to check on me. When asked what was wrong I said, “My friend lost her son.” B2 wipes my tears, wraps his tiny arms all the way around me and says, “Don’t worry Mom, they’ll find him. I know they will.”
I’ve never before attended two funerals is such a close time. Exactly one week apart, a 17 year old boy and an 82 year old man.
Following interment we return to the funeral home for coffee and treats and more visiting. We are among the last to leave. Back to the hotel and the kids go swimming with my older brother and I head to the casino with my mother for a little while. I get a text from my sister saying B2 is ready to go back to the room…baby boy is sleeping for the night within the hour.
When the rest of the family decides to go to Grandma’s house to visit and eat, I order pizza for the boys myself to be delivered to the hotel. Concern is raised that B2 should be woken up, I explain that he will wake up when he gets hungry, eat a slice of pizza and go back to sleep…no problems here.
This is the first three days of our trip. The memories will forever be in our brains…our hearts.
So glad I did not know what the next few days would bring…