Are We There Yet?

Warning: This entry is rather rambling and disconnected. It’s been a strange evening.

Where to begin?

My stepgrandmother passed away a few days ago. She was my paternal grandfather’s second wife. Now, before you get all weepy, understand that I haven’t seen her since his funeral in 1998. Before that, our last encounter was at my wedding in 1994. So it’s not like we were close.

But, still, she was a decent woman from what I could tell, and I know that many in my family will miss her.

Tonight was her viewing. The funeral is tomorrow, but I won’t be attending that. Because the relationships in that branch of my family tree are, well, strained a bit, we debated whether to attend even the viewing. But my parents decided to go, and my sister and I went with them.

We all met at my parents’ house and drove together. Talk about strange. I can’t honestly remember the last time my parents, my sister, and I rode in the same car alone. It was like being a little kid again: Dad was driving, Mom rode shotgun, I sat behind Dad, and Becky sat behind Mom. There was no prior discussion of where anyone would sit. We simply regressed fifteen years and sat in our “assigned” seats.

This is a hard entry to write. There’s a lot of backstory and history, but very little of it is appropriate to share. Or at least, it’s not my business to share it.

At any rate, we made our appearance at the viewing. I don’t recall seeing any tears. This is largely becuase my stepgrandmother had been quite ill, and her passing ultimately came as a relief to those who were closest to her. Someone told me tonight that she was heard saying, “It really takes a long time to die.”

We ran into a bunch of people that know who I am: Rusty’s kid. But they don’t know me. And I sure as crap don’t know them. But I shook hands and smiled politely, just like Dad was doing. He didn’t know all of them, either.

We also saw some people I used to know quite well: my Dad’s brother and his family (well, except for my cousin who is a year younger than I am, who would have been one of very few people I would very much like to have run into tonight). We used to hang out with them all the time, but a family argument drove a wedge between the two families. Thankfully, that wedge is slowly being removed. I hope one day it’s gone altogether. It’s a sad thing to lose friends. It’s a sadder thing to lose family.

Becky and I talked for a bit after leaving our parents. We’re both so thankful that our kids get along well. Gracie genuinely counts Becky’s boys as among her best and truest friends. And I can honestly say that I consider my sister to be a good friend as well. Same for her husband. Yet here we are, siblings with families that get along well, just like my Dad and his brother. Kind of a sobering thought. So my sister and I agreed to make every effort to sustain friendship between our families and kids.

Like it says in that “Sunscreen” song: Be nice to your siblings; they are the best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Of course, it also says: Get to know your parents, you never know when they’ll be gone for good.

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