Friday, March 26, 2010

Goodbye Nana, The Final Installment

Just like the way she lived her life, the events surrounding her dying, death and mourning were filled with humor.  This is the fourth and final installment, enjoy!

When Nana died, we had a little memorial in Northern California for family and close friends.  It was strange.  The priest showed up at the house, drunk.  He also thought he was coming to the house for a "Blessing of the Home", so he brought the wrong book and had to have his assistant drive him back to the rectory to get the right book.  He came back to the house, said some prayers and everyone shared a story.  It was a little tense.  My cousin's Larry and Elsie  (Nana's nephew and niece from Tampa) were mad at my Aunt Marian and her husband.  Aunt Marian was mad at Uncle John.  Uncle John was mad at my Mom.  My mom was mad at everyone.  I was the youngest one there, but the only one mature enough to get along with the  whole family.  A stressful time was made even more so because I was playing referee for all of my idiotic family and their petty disagreements.  I was glad when we made it through lunch without a family brawl.

After lunch, we were all sitting out in the backyard chatting. My Nana's cousin, Elmira, noticed that both of my dogs were wearing St. Francis medals.  She asked me if I had taken them to church for the "Blessing of the Beasts" on the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi.  I told her that Cosmo, my Jack Russell Terrier, did not get along well with other dogs, so I had never taken them.  She immediately went to Father Tim and asked him if he could bless the dogs.  I took him outside and had the dogs sit.  He mumbled a blessing and sprinkled Holy Water on Candy, my yellow lab. She sat there very sweetly and took it all in.  Then he went to Cosmo.  As he started flinging the Holy Water on him, Cosmo started jumping up and biting at the drops of water.  Father Tim looked at me and said in his drunken Irish brogue, "I think that little one is going to need more than a sprinkle of Holy Water!"

Elmira's husband, Bob had a bad back. As the afternoon wore on, he started complaining about it. I sat him in a chair with a heated back massager thingy, hoping to give him some relief.  He promptly fell asleep in it.  Elmira woke him when it was time to leave.  We were all in front of the house saying our goodbyes when, Bob (who is hard of hearing) YELLED; "Michele, I turned off your vibrator when I woke up!"  Bob and Elmira didn't really get it, they are in their 80's and very devout/naive... but the rest of family burst into laughter.  My neighbors looked at me funny for the next couple of days. 

A month later we had a funeral mass and burial service in Southern California. Nana had been cremated, but she wanted to be buried between her husband and mother.  My stupid relatives were still not getting along, so it was up to me to organize the whole deal and mediate between all of them.  Nana had left instructions on how she wanted the funeral to go, she had picked scripture and songs for the funeral mass.  All I really had to do was plan the wake and get someone to do the eulogy.  No one wanted to do the eulogy, so it was left up to me. I spent days writing and re-writing it, by the day of the funeral I was ready, but nervous.  It went fine, my legs were shaking so much...I was glad the podium was there to hide them.

My family had all sat apart in their separate camps, glaring at each other from time to time.  I hoped they would behave themselves at the wake.  

As I sat in the church, worrying about the potential for a full Jerry-Springer-type brawl, some of Nana's friends from Catholic Daughters came up to me.  They were all very sweet little old ladies.  They told me how much their friendship with Nana meant to them, they told me that I did a wonderful job with the eulogy, then one little old lady came up to me and as she hugged me she said, very seriously; "You know, now that Ferne has passed, you are the only sane one left in the Family."

I looked around at my family, still glaring............and realized she was probably right.


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