A funeral in Chicago, Part 2.

May 28, 2012. Memorial Day. At the motel now to get ready for the wake service. I am not looking forward to this. Trying to stay strong and I am faring well at that. But hey, we all knew it was coming. Still, that doesn’t make it any easier to say goodbye.

You gotta think about this. As I write this, I am seated on a bed in our hotel room, aware that in a few hours I will be staring at a dead body for what, four hours? Not to put down Grandma like this. Bad choice of words there.

That empty shell was once my grandmother. She took great care of my sister and I when we were kids. Now there’s nothing left but the form of her body. The essence of who she was is gone, perhaps somewhere where there is no suffering, no pain, and yes, Grandpa. I find it comforting they’re together now. Forever and free, they are together again. And free.

We visited Oma*. How cool it was to be in her house. What memories. We walked through her living room, where I remember having slept on the couch. Then, there’s the dining room where we ate dinner, not today but back in the day when she could cook. Then there’s the kitchen where I would eat breakfast. Then the patio where it smelled of dog toys. I remember playing ping-pong with Opa in the basement. I’d like to see that one more time. And the attic.

There are pictures everywhere of her family, including ones of my dad and uncle when they were both young. It’s haunting to see that family portrait of Oma ‘n’ Opa with their two sons. And then there’s that picture of Vic**, young and nerdy with his glasses and smiling tenderly. Wow, and all that during 3 hours, which crawled by so slow that it felt like a whole day.

Well, I need to start getting ready for the wake. I am sure by the time you read this in the distant future, this will be a memory. But now to make those memories happen.

Gotta go.

It is now 10:18. I can only wonder why I was so anxious. After arriving, I got more and more nervous but once I got situated in the company of Grandma in her casket, I relaxed and began to enjoy myself. Wow, that sounded strange. But that’s how it felt. I relaxed and was able to keep my composure with a smile. The anticipation is always worse than the real thing. Here I was, nervous about seeing Grandma but once I was there, I was nervous no more. I still got freaked out when I walked up to the casket for a closer look. There she was, still as a statue, looking nowhere near the Grandma I remember.

The service was very nice even though the pastor spoke Lithuanian. Still, I came to realize that this whole thing was put together by Grandma. She chose the songs, the flowers, the dress. She actually planned the whole thing. All in all, a nice service.

Now for the funeral part. I’m going to be one of the pallbearers for this appalling pall. I get to carry Grandma to her resting place. Again the nervousness is kicking in. Who knows, maybe that won’t be so bad either.

During the wake service, the pastor spoke in Lithuanian. He said Grandma lived a long and full life, and towards the end was transitioning to her next eternal life. What comforting words.

Even more comforting is the thought that my Grandma lives on inside me. She brought forth my mom, who brought forth me. Therefore, there’s a little piece of Grandma in me. I also have pieces of Grandpa and Opa as well. It’s crowded in here. Still, I will take care of these pieces as I take care of myself. My Grandma, after all, is still alive, inside me.

And what kind of person am I really? I tend to go berserk and do stupid things, but in reality, the person I am in front of my parents is who I am. No more getting mad at myself. I made my parents proud with the way I was socializing and greeting the guests to the wake. Now to lock in this pride. For keeps.

After a lovely wake service that left tender memories in the minds of everyone who attended, as my father and I were walking down the hall of the funeral home, with no remorse or embarrassment, he farted.

To be continued…

* Oma was my other grandmother.
* Vic is the name of Oma’s other son. He too has passed on.

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