Family

Can’t live with them, can’t kill them. Well, I suppose you could do either, but that’s another blog. This blog is about the crazy family members we love. As you get to know me, you will discover that I have a boatload of whack jobs in my family. Many of us do not speak, except to trade insults (which I’m always up for) but those of us who do have a great sense of humor and generous hearts. After I tell this one, I hope those involved still maintain that humorous bone.
My Aunt died. Yes, the same one that suggested to my father that he and my mother not have children. However, the irony of life is that she and my uncle were the closest of family to my mom and dad. They spent a lot of time together, taking care of me, my cousins and their kids. Even though I joke about calling my aunt The Church Lady (she could make that lemon puss face), I loved her very much and I’m pretty sure she loved me.
She died last November. She had been sick for a few weeks prior to her death, but I am happy to say that I had a nice conversation with her before she became too ill to speak. I feel good about that. So, my cousin calls me to tell me she’s passed. They will need to bring her from Maine to Saratoga for services and burial. My uncle is buried in the military cemetery there (so is my mother) and she will be laid to rest alongside him. So far, so good. Well, cousin doesn’t want to ruin anyone’s Thanksgiving plans, so it is decided that aunt will not be buried until first week of December. Okay, I can understand that. I make plans to fly to NY and meet them there. Now, you must first understand that when my most favorite cousins in the whole world descend upon you, they take no prisoners. There is my favorite first cousin, who I’ve known all my life, his wife, whom I adore and his 3 boys. These three boys are all approximately 9 feet tall, weighing 400lbs. Okay, maybe not that tall and big, but they might as well be. One is into that iron man crazy race stuff where they throw grenades at you while you run up a hill carrying a tree trunk. The middle is the quiet one who sits back and takes it all in and the baby is our first openly gay family member who believes he should be a supermodel. I admit, when they are all with me, I am happiest.
Okay, so they all roll in the evening before the service for aunt. Everyone unpacks and brings stuff in the house, grabbing food from the back of the minivan and SUV, phone chargers, beer, etc. It’s dark, so I can’t really see much of what’s happening in the driveway, but the commotion is what I have grown to expect. After they have settled in, I inquire as to where my dear departed aunt is resting the evening before her internment. In a casual tone, 1st cousin informs me that his mother, my aunt, is in the back of the minivan in the driveway. Insert Scooby Doo “huhhh?” Yes, that’s right. In my family spirit of cheap, my cousin and his sons took my aunt from the funeral home, loaded her in the back of the minivan and drove her across 4 states, which I’m pretty sure violates a few laws. Now, my sick sense of humor is beginning to rear its ugly head and I have to squash it back down as I look at my father’s face for a reaction. I’m not sure he was too happy about having his deceased sister in a minivan in the front yard. I ate a donut that was packed in there with her. Talk about a 3 second rule breach.
What if they had a flat tire en route? What if the back doors opened and the casket fell out on the highway? I’m pretty sure a hearse has some sort of refrigeration unit for extensive travel, which I’m guessing the old minivan was not equipped. What if they had been pulled over for speeding? The jokes were welling up inside me so badly that I had to go to sleep. So, the next morning, I look out my bedroom window and the minivan is gone. I assumed my cousin perhaps felt bad having my father’s sister in his driveway, so maybe he’d taken her to the cemetery. Silly me. He’d just driven her down to Stewart’s with him to get some coffee.
We arrive at Saratoga National Cemetery. I have our pastor in the car with me and my father. We are all lined up in the procession at the cemetery entrance. This is always hard for me because my mom is buried there. Today is different, because it’s kind of a circus. My baby cousin is cat walking back in forth alongside my car like we are front row at a Hugo Boss fashion show. Our pastor is confused. My other cousin is explaining to the staff why his mother has arrived in a minivan (they aren’t happy) and I’m beginning to giggle.
All’s well that ends well. My aunt was laid to rest, but not before I had our pastor throw in that I was the favorite niece. I think my aunt would concur, with her Church Lady puss face, of course.

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