Travel Journal: Day Five--The Wake and Photo Etiquette
Since I’ve been back, I have been getting up earlier. I woke up around 8am, got myself fresh and clean. I called the funeral home, and the lady said it wasn’t too late to drop off anything extra. I didn’t say anything to anyone; I left, dropped off what I needed to. They thought it was an unusual request; you don’t see too many bodies with hats on them. But I explained to them it was what Grandpa would have wanted. They respected it but explained that because he was laying down the back of the hat may fold down. I told them I understood and didn’t care as long as it was on him.
By the time I made it back, Grandma had gotten up. She was a bit puzzled that I was already gone but didn’t ask too much about where I had been. Uncle Bud had stopped by; his plane had gotten slightly delayed so he didn’t make it to his trailer (which is also on the property) until 1 in the morning.
Grandma and I were happy that Aunt Louise didn’t come with him this time because she tends to act a bit funny…he never gets a chance to spend a lot of time with us because she tends to hog the method of transportation (when they drive) and she likes to spend a lot of time with her family, who is a few hours away from us. So the trip is either cut short or we don’t get to see him that often. Plus, she acts very jealous when other females are around him.
There were hurt feelings because of what happened when Grandpa got really sick. Uncle Bud only got a chance to spend a couple of days with Grandpa. Grandma was hoping he would be around more, so Uncle Trent wouldn’t be spending the nights at the hospital all the time. But it didn’t turn out that way. Aunt Louise was constantly checking up on Uncle Bud, treating it as if they were just on a normal vacation except for what it actually was. Uncle Bud’s chance to say his final goodbyes to his dad.
The bad news was that since Uncle Bud had spent a week down here from the previous time, he could only stay until Monday. He had exhausted most of his vacation. All Grandma and I could do was be thankful for the little time he was around.
Jason, a good friend of the family, had been very diligent on checking on Grandma. He and Grandpa had been very close. Whenever he would be on the road, he would make it a point to stop by. I was very grateful to him as well as Doris, the lady who would stop by and have long conversations with Grandma. She had a recent death in her family, too, so I guess both of them can help each other during their time of grief.
Shortly afterwards, Grandma and I started getting ready to go to the funeral home. Patricia told us that we could go earlier to make sure everything was in order before they brought Grandpa to the church. We asked Uncle Bud if he wanted to go with us, and he said yes. I inquired about Uncle Trent, but found out from Kitana that the two of them had to head to New Orleans to pick up Keith, Uncle Bud’s son, from the airport. Apparently, he discovered last minute he had no ride to get him. Uncle Trent had casually mentioned it to me the night before, and I told him to let me know in the morning, since it would take almost 2 hours to get there. But he didn’t mention anything else to me, so I figured I wasn’t needed.
Grandma, Uncle Bud, and I stopped at the local gas station to get some refreshments and ran into Jason. At first he said he was going to see us later at the wake, but when I was on my way to Brookhaven, I noticed his truck right behind me. I guess he had changed his mind.
We made it to the funeral home around 3. It started to really hit me, seeing him in the casket. I began to cry. Grandma was wondering how the hat got on his head; I told her he would have wanted it; she and Uncle Bud understood. I noticed Grandpa’s eyebrows looked a bit funny, then understood what my mom said when she said “she messed up his eyebrows”. She tried to shape them (which Grandpa has never done in life) and dang near shaved them off.
I shook my head sadly and wondered what all Grandpa had seen and experienced in those last weeks. Although my mom said later two conflicting things--1. Karmen was the main one with the witchcraft, not her and 2. She was speaking tongues but it was spiritual, I am sure Grandpa thought she and Karmen both were going crazy towards the end.
Grandma started to cry, too. Seeing him there made it hit home as well. We all talked about the good times we all had with Grandpa; before we knew it, it was close to 5pm. The wake would start in about an hour. We decided to go on our way; Jason said he would see us at the wake and we said okay.
One of my cousins Calvin had been trying to reach me. He had something he wanted to give to Grandma because he wasn’t going to be able to make it to the funeral tomorrow. I told him we would be at the wake, and he could give it to us then.
Uncle Bud said he was hungry and wanted to get some food to eat, so we stopped by the supermarket and grabbed some items. By the time we made it back to the house, Grandma decided she didn’t want to go to the wake. I asked Uncle Bud was he going, and at first he told me he wasn’t going to. I told him I had to go anyway because Calvin had something he wanted to give Grandma. He asked if I was going to stay long; I said I wasn’t because of how long we all had been at the funeral home. He changed his mind and agreed to go with me.
He and I made it to the church and was impressed with the turnout. I saw a lot of people I hadn’t seen in a while…some well over ten years ago. My mom and my sisters were there, including Karmen. I caught up with Calvin and he gave me the envelope.
I was talking to Gloria, who Grandpa’s mom and dad had raised at their own. My sister Quasha decided this would be a good opportunity for photos.
I wouldn’t have minded if it was tomorrow after the funeral. But this was during the wake; it wasn’t a happy occasion and I was annoyed because she kept snapping pictures of me.
I located Uncle Bud and told him it was time to go. I was outraged and very upset at Quasha’s behavior.
I went in Grandpa’s room and burst into tears; it was just too much. It was the same feeling I had when seeing the pictures of Grandpa in the hospital. He had lost so much weight and was attached to a tube. I couldn’t bear to look at them. I just want to remember him in his prime…when he was vibrant and enjoyed life.
Uncle Trent came in to check on me. He and I have never really been close. I guess it threw him off how upset I was. I’m the strong one; I’m the one who rarely breaks down into tears, at least not for anyone to see. But he gave me a hug.
Then, Keith came in and gave me a hug as well. It had been so long since I had seen him; he had lost a lot of weight but I could tell he hadn’t quite gotten his drinking under wraps.
I just needed to have a moment by myself. How would one even begin to start without him around? Even breathing seemed difficult, a challenge.
I talked to Grandpa, letting him know I was doing the best I could to keep the peace. I told him I would try my best to keep my word to him, but wasn’t sure how; he kept saying it would all fall into place someday and somehow.
And who would see about Grandma while I’m trying to make a way?
Uncle Trent was doing his best but he has little or no income to help out. Mom and Grandma were on very shaky ground; after the whole incident with speaking tongues and oils, the last person she wants seeing about her is my Mom. Uncle Bud has his trailer on the land, but still has about two more years before he can leave California. There was no good solution presently in sight.
So while my body rested, my mind remained restless.