A spontaneous out-of-town visit to an infirmed grandparent, yesterday, became a deathwatch resulting in the passing on of said grandparent.
Very, very sad. Very, very stressed. Very, VERY freaked out.
Literally watching someone die, and stroking her hair as she takes her last ragged, rattling breath, is freak-you-the-hell-out upsetting enough, but just to add insult to injury - and liven things up a bit, IF YOU WILL - let's throw the entire dysfunctional family into the mix.
Poor Carl. Carl is the lovely - cute, actually, which is gross - director of the funeral home. He came out on Mother's Day to load Gran into a Suburban and carry her back to the parlor. Somber, respectful, but smiling and friendly Carl.
He never stood a chance against this clan.
So there we were today in Carl's subdued office, which was decorated in theoretically calming blues and greys. His eyes glazed over as we tried to explain to him the obituary-necessary ins and outs of our gnarled family tree. The two people in charge of things? They are the daughter and ex-son-in-law of the deceased. The Ex was, secretly, made executor of the estate by the deceased years after the divorce from the daughter. The departed never accepted the dissolution of their marriage so :: Bronx Cheer :: I'll show you - I'm keeping him in the loop whether you like it or not, daughter. (This should tell you something about Gran. Rest her soul).
Second in command of this circus? The lovely and charming eldest granddaughter (moi) who, no, is not the child of the divorced people making the plans, although she should have been born to them. She's the daughter of the odd woman - the other daughter of the deceased - fixated on and babbling about whether we should offer finger food or big food after the service...never mind her. We call her Rainman for a reason.
The names of everyone involved? The divorced daughter and ex-son-in-law still share a surname, the babbling daughter has a married name that sounds a lot like the surname name of the deceased - and they share a first name, which is COMPLETELY confusing - and the granddaughter still uses her maiden name, which was The Babbler's original married name. So that grandson-in-law's name is COMPLETELY different from everyone else's.
Got that Carl? Carl....?
Now, I don't like to work by consensus. Committees irritate the hell out of me. So imagine the special joy I shared with Carl while enduring The Death Squad's debate over The Choosing of the Prayer Card and the separate, monumental task of Choosing the Prayer Card Verse. Followed by the lengthy and difficult Choosing of the Thank You Notes. Not to mention the Choosing of the Casket and Urn which very nearly required the intervention of Dr. Phil. Thirty minutes into the ordeal I was ready to crawl into a casket myself.
Just then the church called to say, sorry, we can't do big food after an evening service. Perfect! That settles it. Finger food it is. Until The Babbler wanted to know if we could bring in our own catering...Have you done the math yet and figured out that The Babbler is my mother?
:: sigh ::
This thing ain't over yet, kids. Stay tuned.