Day 210 – 216
The week after my grandpa died was tough. Not because of grief as such, I wish I could say it was that, that would make it easier to write about.
On the Monday I had an interview with a local call centre for a bank (I think I mentioned the telephone interview part before). The interview went very well but I felt uneasy about it. I am sure I would have been good at the job but every bit of me was screaming at me “You’re going the wrong way!”. The next day I got a phone call while I was out with a message to call them back. Before I called back I was pretty sure I had made my decision. I just needed to talk to some people first, the parental units and the man-shape. I got through to mum, she was with me on my decision straight away. Spoke to dad, surprisingly so was he (I was sure he’d be the tough nut to crack). And lastly the man-shape. I called back the next day after having had time to sleep on it. As I am sure you have figured out, I turned the job down. The hours were long, the pay low and it was taking me far from anything that I have been working towards. It didn’t even start until September.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch….
So, in the organising of my grandpa’s funeral that side of my family imploded. I can’t think of any other way of putting it. All family feuds came to the fore and a wonderful game of us and them and them and them and them started (where is the sarcasm font when I need it?). One wasn’t going because of the location. This one won’t talk to that one. The person organising didn’t tell certain people certain things and the only thing of my grandpa’s that my dad wanted ended up in the coffin… I know all families have their moments but this was mental. With all of this, me, the emotional girl, didn’t cry.
Wednesday, 1st of August, is my dad’s birthday. Happy Birthday dad! Sorry this week and your birthday had to be at the same time.
On Thursday, knowing I hadn’t cried and thinking that it was just not normal for me to hold everything in and worrying that I would explode with it all at the funeral I knew I needed to do something. I wasn’t happy, I drove around and I found myself, somehow, at the cemetery where my gran is buried and where my grandpa would by laid to rest.
When I found my gran’s grave (I haven’t been in a long time. I don’t believe that is where she is so it has seemed a bit strange to go there) I had forgotten a couple of things. I had forgotten that my gran’s gravestone had the salvation army crest on it. I had forgotten that her and my grandpa were in a shared plot and that meant that when I arrived her grave was open. I cried. After a hug from a complete random stranger, I wish I had gotten her name, I wondered slowly back to my car looking at gravestones and crying at how many of the older stones were for children and babies.
Can I please put in a a disclaimer here, although many members of my family are Salvation Army Officers or Salvationists, I am not and never was. I chose not to become a junior soldier but was still brought up in this environment/life so when I say “we say” I really mean, people who are in the Salvation Army say.
My grandpa was a Salvationist. He was a musician in Salvation Army bands most of his life and right to the end of his life when he went into hospital and wasn’t able to play any more. I have exactly one regret in my life. It is true what they say, you only ever regret the things you didn’t do… My grandpa played trombone (amongst other brass instruments), as did my dad, as did I. I played bass trombone if we’re splitting hairs. Dad once joked, when I was about 12 or 13 that it would be kinda cool and funny to have the 3 generations play a trio some time. We never did.
If you’ve never been to a Salvation Army funeral before there are a few things that might strike you as strange and definitely caught the man-shape off guard (he was there to support me and was brilliant). There are some terms you might not have heard before. In the celebration of a Salvationist’s life (the funeral) we don’t have a date of death on the order of service. Instead we say they are:
Promoted to Glory
Beside these words (or underneath in this case) is the date of death. I do like those words and the image they give me. The band played, the Songsters sang, we sang. And then came the last song “Yellow Star and Red and Blue”. This is an upbeat song really, it is bright. The first chorus got people clapping, I think that caught the man-shape off guard. The second chorus someone had brought out their timbrel. The man-shape gave me a look, while holding me up, that sort of said “A tambourine?? but it’s a funeral…”. For those who don’t know, a timbrel is a kind of tambourine used in Salvation Army music and it usually has ribbons attached and is sometimes used in displays. It is acceptable, if a little unorthodox, to bring your timbrel out in celebration at a funeral.
Next we went to the cemetery. Somehow, and I’m not sure how, the man-shape and I arrived first. Dad was in the family car that was behind the coffin and behind the flag-bearer. That is another part of SA funerals, the flag bearer.
The graveside part of things didn’t feel real to me. I felt like I was a movie extra. The flag and people. Oh, all the people who knew my name but hadn’t seen me for at least 15 years. I knew the faces.
Altogether it was a strange day, with my dad and I mostly separate from the rest of the family and not through our own choosing. I don’t think our family will ever really heal, it’s too broken, and we’re just too different from the rest of them. It’s sad, but I can’t change it.
Later that day…
Later that day I got home to discover that most of the contents of my freezer were defrosted. That Friday was my best day ever… (!)