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Interstellar Adventure
Adventure: the pursuit of life — Daniel Roy Wiarda

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A Funeral and an Impromtu Family Reunion

Monday, February 20, 2006

Not starring Hugh Grant, but rather, yours truly. Friday, Nick and I traveled down to Houston for a family funeral. My uncle's ex-wife passed away. My two cousins are only 20 and 23. She was only 45. She was my aunt longer than she was my ex-aunt, and I went to support my cousins and my uncle in their loss. Only one of my mom's siblings wasn't there, and she would have had to come from Missouri to get there. The flu and distance kept her away. Since my uncle divorced his wife, she had experienced trouble with drugs, alcohol and bulimia. She never ran with what most would consider 'nice' people, and after the divorce, it got worse. Her current boyfriend was a Vietnam vet. He had plenty of issues of his own, evidenced by him showing up to the funeral late and drunk, nevermind that he was asked not to come at all. The service was rather sad. It was graveside, closed-casket and brief. It was a cold, drizzly day. I don't think the priest knew her, and couldn't pronounce her name. Someone, not a member of the family, told the priest that "we all called her Angie". Not in the 30 years I knew her we didn't. I liked my aunt. She was a nice lady. She had a great laugh. And she loved my cousins. I'm sad that she couldn't overcome her problems and straighten out her life. I'm just glad that she's at peace now. The next day, Nick and I went with my sister to go visit our grandfather, my bio-dad's dad. He's 82 years old. My grandmother passed away two years ago. My uncle has lived with my grandparents for as long as I can remember, so he's there to take care of my grandfather. I use the term 'take care of' rather loosely. He does as well as an odd bachelor can. My grandaddy sounded better on the phone than he looked. When I talked to him, I was quite encouraged because his voice sounded so strong. When I got there an hour and a half later, he was putting on wrinkled clothing, needed help to finish getting dressed, and couldn't locate the comb to run through his hair. I wanted to cry, but I held back my tears and instead hugged him. I could have gone on hugging him for the rest of the day. We chatted for a bit with grandaddy and my uncle Dan. It turned out they were expecting more company too! My uncle John was coming from Huntsville, and my uncle Richard and his wife and four kids were expected, as well as my aunt Kathy. She was coming in from Georgia for a visit. How fortuitous! We took grandaddy out to lunch at Luby's while Dan stayed behind waiting on the rest of the kin. Kin? Oh, I haven't talked much about this side of my family, have I? When we go out with them, I often feel like Marilyn Munster. My sister and I are the 'normal' ones in the family. I joke that this is my 'hillbilly' part of the family. They are some of the nicest people you would ever meet. If you're stranded somewhere, they're the ones that are going to stop and help you in any way they can. "Well sure, come on in!" they'd say, if you stopped by their house unannounced. And they'd be genuinely happy to see you too. Whatever is in their cupboard is yours if you need it. At the church they've belonged to for the last I'm guessing at least 40-45 years, all the children call my grandfather Grandaddy. He and my uncles drove the church busses since before I was born. You could drop my uncles in the middle of nowhere and they'd be just fine, and probably beat you back to civilization. The back yard at my grandaddy's house has been home to sheep, turkeys, rabbits, chickens, and a host of other animals (smack dab in the middle of the biggest metropolitain city in Texas). Many of these animals often ended up on the Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner table. This greatly upset my sister and I when we were young. My grandaddy has traveled to all but three of the Spanish-speaking countries in this world, was in China on the day I was born, and many, many places in between. He was an engineer for a company that searched for oil all around the world. He's actually stood on every continent. But now, my Grandaddy is old. My uncle said he's had to take his keys away. He would drive off and get lost. The last time it happened, he ran out of gas on Beltway 8 in Houston. It's a major tollway. He walked off to get gas, and an hour later, when he came back, his van was on the tow-truck, almost about to be towed away. Fortunately the tow-driver took my grandaddy and his van back home, rather than to the impound lot. The entire time we were at Luby's, he couldn't stop telling us that his Wednesday Lunch Bunch would meet at Luby's and take up the whole back of the restaurant. He must have told us this 15 times while we were there. He still tells his stories, but he tells them to you three times in 15 minutes. He's shrunk a lot since the last time I saw him, and he's almost all gray now. It was so hard for me to see him like this. Out of all the people in my life, I feel like he was the only one to love me without any strings. There was never any "Well, we're disappointed in you, but we still love you.". It was always just "We love you". When I was little, sitting in his lap in his big recliner in his office was about the safest place in the world. Nothing could touch me there. Rather than play or watch TV or play dress up, I'd rather be sitting in my grandaddy's lap, just being quiet, or listening to him tell stories. He's got a thousand stories. He was a member of the 103rd Cactus Division during World War II. Got an all-expense paid walking tour of Europe from October 1944 to September 1945. He's traveled to every country on this planet that has oil. He speaks five languages. He was an engineer. And he and his children not only believe in God and the Bible, they live it. They are better people than I could ever hope to be. And I'm so lucky that they love me.
My Grandaddy Grandaddy
Me & Grandaddy. The Kin. Yes, the man with the long beard is related to me. He's so totally cool. Me & Uncle Dan Me & Grandaddy Family Photo Me & Dan
The Horsey. He's been around forever! The old phones. There's one upstairs too. Grandmother used to call my uncles and aunt rather than yell up the stairs. They all had their own rings. My grandmother as a young woman. Horsey Old Phone Grandmother
An old computer. I used to play on this when I was a kid. The plates we used to eat from as kids. These are over 25 years old! My grandaddy and grandmother. Computer Plates Grandaddy & Grandmother

2/20/2006 12:25:00 PM :: ::
10 Comments:
  • I love the old phones. That's funny! Sorry about your aunt. And it's so hard to see people you love get older and not be able to do the things they once could.

    By Blogger Jolynn, at 2/20/2006 02:20:00 PM

     


  • It sounds like it was a great idea to go to the funeral. I had a "Granddaddy" too - I miss him.

    By Blogger TrueJerseyGirl, at 2/20/2006 02:32:00 PM

     


  • Many hugs to you hon.

    My grandfather is getting the same way. We don't usually let him drive the 10 miles to town.

    I wonder if your grandfather ever knew my great-aunt's brother-in-law. He did the same sort of thing for many many years.

    By Blogger Coyote Mike, at 2/20/2006 10:47:00 PM

     


  • Awesome photos...thanks for posting those and man that computer..haha. My husband still has his first Apple computer..he has it on a desk downstairs just for looks I guess...cracks me up evertyime I look at that thing...

    By Blogger Sandy, at 2/21/2006 03:24:00 AM

     


  • Thanks for the story! Your grandad seems like a great man. It is always a shock to see a family member change with time, especially if you haven't seen them in a while. I guess we'll all be there and our grandkids will say the same about us. UGH. I hate that!

    By Blogger Carnealian, at 2/21/2006 06:29:00 AM

     


  • it's nice that sad times can bring folks together and re-connect again.

    Not easy

    By Blogger The Wisdom of Wislon, at 2/21/2006 06:30:00 AM

     


  • It is hard to watch family members age. Sorry about your aunt, too. Only 45?

    Sounds like an emotionally draining weekend, but good of you to go.

    By Anonymous abbynormal, at 2/21/2006 12:19:00 PM

     


  • I've changed my blog addy. everything is still there, but its just a new address.

    http://toothfairytales.blogspot.com

    By Blogger The Toothfairy, at 2/21/2006 05:08:00 PM

     


  • Great story about your Granddaddy.

    You were lucky to have him nearby as a child, but I'll bet he was lucky to have you around too!

    By Blogger g, at 2/21/2006 09:13:00 PM

     


  • What a beautiful story, Lass. I know your granddaddy was so happy to see you, his grandkids, and other family.

    People like that are the backbone of this country.

    By Blogger Bone, at 2/21/2006 10:53:00 PM

     


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