Two weeks ago, I got a call I’d been dreading since, well, the last time I made a blog post here. It was my sister, telling me that my mother had passed away.
We were a little more prepared this time than last time. I notified my boss, filed for bereavement leave, and made travel arrangements. Since my mother passed on a Saturday, the services were scheduled for the following Thursday and Friday. While packing for the trip, I came across the textbook from my public speaking class – the section on eulogies was finally useful.
We boarded the plane early Tuesday morning, with enough time to drive to my home town. We were tired but not too tired so we got settled. My mom had some distinct opinions about my facial hair so I decided I would be clean shaven for the services and that took longer than expected.
The next day, I got a haircut and then spent the afternoon in the library writing. I’ve known for months that I wanted to speak at her funeral, but the words took a long time to take shape. That evening, I went out to dinner with one of my sisters where I learned more about how things went at the end.
Thursday was a long long day. There were two wakes, one in the early afternoon and one in the evening. Nearly a hundred people came! Folks who knew her through work or her other activities, neighbors old and new, and friends of the family all came to pay their respects. My other siblings are all local so they had quite a few friends come by, but even I had someone from my old circle of friends come by.
After each of the wakes, we retreated to my other sister’s house for food and decompression. It was good to talk with my extended family about things, and they had a wonderful time meeting my daughter.
The funeral was intense. This was the first Catholic mass my wife or I had attended in a long time, and possibly the first ever for our daughter. She did very well, all things being equal. My siblings and I read our eulogies and we all went to the cemetery to the plot my mom picked out years ago.
My brother had scheduled an event on Sunday for all the folks who couldn’t make the other services and it was really important to him and to the rest of my family that we stay if at all possible. After fixing things with work, the hotels, the rental car company, and the airline, we were finally able to relax. I learned so much about the lives my siblings have been living back home while I’ve been away. I even bumped into someone from high school who was a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend – small world! We all fell asleep exhausted after a long long night.
Our travel plans had us return on Tuesday morning, so we spent Monday in Boston – staying at the same hotel as last time, in fact. We visited some familiar and unfamiliar tourist places, walked all over the North End and Charlestown, and made it to the airport in plenty of time.
On the flight home we actually got to sit together in the same row which was really nice. That afternoon after we landed I ended up going back to work – on-call even – and it was hard but good to get back into the swing of things. After a long week, I finally have some time to sit and reflect.