Monday, May 19, 2008

Funeral Today

My Uncle Johnny died a few days ago -- went to the funeral service today. We had to drop off the kids at day care and both take a personal day at work. Things were a bit manic while dropping off the kids and Swiss B. wanted to do a parent-teacher conference for S. so we ended up getting to the funeral late, slipping in the back right during the "sign of peace" ceremony (note to self: find out what the real title of this segment of the mass is called). The church was St Gerard Magela in Port Jefferson. The architect was going for a light organic earth-industrial tone with lots of textured cement blocks intended to pass for granite and huge wooden beams along the ceiling. A quick inspection of the beams revealed that they weren't a solid chunk of wood but long laminate slats. Why does this matter and who cares? One cool thing was the lack of kneelers -- the chairs were one grade above the metal folding type and connected at the feet. We were real hungry so I decided to take the Eucharist and make my way over to my parents. My dad had his fingers interlocked and clenched, his eyes were red and his whisper raspy -- I could tell he'd been crying a bit. My Uncle Johnny's death had impacted a lot of folks. I was solemn but didn't choke up at all or feel a need to cry. While at the wake on Saturday, I was pretty emotionless until I went up to the photo collages and then onto the casket and it was there that I broke down and sobbed for a bit. I was collecting myself by a small end table with a tissue box when my mother walked over, crying, and tried to lead me to my aunt. She was like, Come, come over to your aunt and feel the love -- I want her to see you. It was apparent that I had been scrutinized when I went over to my uncle, that my mother had been tensely watching to see if I'd show signs of being an emotional human, and she wanted to proudly parade me about before my eyes had time to dry. I declined.
Anyway, after the funeral, my cousins and their kids released a bunch of white balloons that had been sharpied with love and miss yous. The limo door was opened and some song specifically written for this exact ritual was playing. I was wondering how much money the artist had made with this creation and if he had a canon of works like this -- things like mother/son dances at weddings, etc., and how this sort of music is marketed. The voice didn't sound familiar and the song certainly lacked the hooks necessary for any radio play. Perhaps this is something all undertakers have on hand which they suggest as an afterthought to grieving clients as a tasteful enhancement. There was a light wind and it wasn't raining -- a good day for balloons, I guess. My wife leaned over and commented that the balloons weren't "green", something about birds eating them, I didn't really catch all of what she was saying. Oh, and before I forget, there was a very old man, a deacon perhaps, at the funeral that didn't blink at all -- like the fish people in Dagon.
At the cemetery, we each received a red carnation which we threw on the casket. The ceremony was marred by the constant din of ongoing construction of what looked like a new mausoleum. With the wind it was fairly brisk and my cousin T.'s kids were wearing short sleeves and skirts -- even the 10 month old. While everyone was heading back to their cars, my cousin's son, M., who is about 10 excitedly picked up an acorn and showed it to my Mom -- Look Tee-Tee, acorns for the squirrels! I didn't think anything special of this but noticed my cousin, his dad, was uncomfortable, glancing around both annoyedly and apologetically as if his son was acting inappropriately and in a shameful manner. I felt bad for the kid.
By this time it's already 2ish and we drive off to Ruby Tuesday for salad and mini-burgers. It's the first real meal I've had. I wondered why the hell all these people weren't at work. Afterward we stop off at Buybuybaby and ToysRUs for some impulse kid shopping -- "we need to get some sort of storage for the bath toys" and I actually convinced my wife to bless a visit to the Mini dealership for a test drive of the Clubman.
What a weird car, the Mini Clubman. Here is my assessment:
-Very cool looking car -- even brown works as an exterior color.
-Extremely snug and comfortable seats
-Nice shifting with the manual
-Funky interior with dip-switches and a huge center mounted speedometer
-Hugs the road
-37MPG on the highway
-Push button start (novelty)
-Completely useless storage capacity -- the ass is so narrow it would be impossible to fit a regular Graco style single stroller let alone the double tandem we have. Maybe (2) umbrella strollers would fit if placed in an oppossing X and angled up on the rear seat backs. No way a big single piece of luggage would fit.
-The cool center speedometer is impractical for real world use -- it's too big and you have to take your eyes off the road. You get used to it, the saleswoman told me.
-Big roof pillars by the suicide passenger-side door block the window view -- not good for my scenery watching daughter.
-The control stalk always returns to center so you don't really know where it's been all the time -- this goes for the directionals or wipers.
-Hard to get in and out off the back
-Premium fuel

I left feeling glad to be rid of this short-lived obsession with the Mini. Besides, my experiment always driving 55 on cruise control seems to be paying off -- already put on 400 miles with a 1/3 tank of gas left. I suspect when I fill up and calculate my mileage that I'll be over 30MPG. We'll see. If that's the case, I pamper the Accord until 2010 when the GM fuel cell comes out.

Picked up the girls at 5:20 and had a decent night. Thinking about work though. Work has been a cause for some stress. I feel every time I take a day off or am out for some reason (like the conference) something critical happens, where my input would have been valuable and decisions are made in my absence. Depending on the decision, it's not a big deal, but I don't like not being able to defend myself if some action is questioned and I *hate* being paraphrased or misquoted. It just shows a lack of character if someone waits for my absence to raise doubt. That's life.

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