Last Thursday, March 16th, we had my Aunt Karen's memorial service in Tucson.
I spent all morning practicing my speech. Right before we left I filled my dad's flask with some vodka and tucked it into my purse.
Family picture before we left to go to church.
I can't remember if I mentioned it before, but all of the family wore dog clothes and accessories in her honor.
My Uncle Terry brought their dog, Gus, to the church. He was very well behaved.
When we got to the church I went into the bathroom and drank the flask of vodka. If anybody had seen me they would have thought that I had a serious drinking problem. Then I avoided contact and eye contact with everyone and went and sat in the front pew. My reading was the first reading, so after the priest made his welcoming statement I went up to the podium.
This is what I read. My aunt read this at their wedding in 1971. You will now know why I needed a shot of vodka before reading this.
From The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams, 1922
"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."
"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit. "Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt." "Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"
"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand." And “once you are Real you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always.”
I had researched a lot of tips on reading at a funeral without crying uncontrollably, and I am happy to report that I made it through the whole thing without breaking down. I made Michael stand in the back so when I looked up I could look just at him. I seriously didn't even know who was there until it ended. And the advantage of going first was that I was done and then I could lose it. Which I pretty much did.
Family picture after we got home.
Pictures of all the dog clothes/accessories (I didn't get everybody).
I ordered my uncle's shirt for him. It also had a little dog paw on the back under the collar.
Then I took pictures of the memorial "stuff".
The program from the ceremony. Edited a bit for privacy.
Posters with pictures of her
There were 132 people at the church (my uncle asked Michael to count) and about 90 people came to a reception at my parent's house after. The house and yard were packed, so all I got a picture of was part of the dessert buffet.
My friend Elisa came to both the ceremony and the reception and brought her family to the reception. Elliott and her son Max are almost exactly a year apart in age and they are finally starting to play with each other.
They were sitting at the island talking to each other, but I took the picture just as they both started to climb down.
Elisa and I were pleased to see their blossoming friendship (we've been friends since the day I was born), so I asked them to pose for a picture.
It turned out to be a great, great. GREAT idea because I totally, 100% forgot to take Elliott's monthly picture. It's the first time in his life I forgot to do it on the 16th. And I seriously didn't remember until the 20th. It's not like I took one just one day late.
So, I cropped this picture to see if it would work. It would, but you can see Max's arm.
So, a bit of editing....
And we've got a monthly picture!
5 years- 3 months
Elliott made a lot of friends that night. I don't even know who this is.
This is my cousin Zach. He's two months older than me and lives in Seattle.
After everyone left we took some family pictures under the Laugh banner (that was used at my aunt and uncle's wedding).
The hip thing is an inside joke with me and Nick. It's not even worth explaining. It's been going on for, like, 24 years and nobody else gets it.
On Friday, St. Patrick's Day, my uncle had everybody come over to his house for lunch and conversation.
We tried to take a St. Patrick's Day family picture.
This was too shady.
This was OK, but neither kid is looking.
Shady and looking. We'll take it.
The hair bow I was wearing that day.
My uncle had asked me prior to coming over that day if I wanted to look through my aunt's cookbooks and take any of them. I did take a few, but this is the only one I really wanted. And I got it.
It's my grandmother's cookbook.
I don't care about any of the recipes that are in the actual cookbook, but my grandmother wrote all of her recipes in the margins and blank spaces.
This is a family heirloom. It has ALL of the recipes I associate with my grandmother.
Including this cookie recipe that I called my aunt to get in December.
After we left that day and went back to my parent's house we put the kids to bed early and then we put ourselves to bed early. We were all exhausted because mourning is hard work.