As expected, last week was sad and exhausting, but weirdly fun in a way, at least post-funeral and burial.
Tuesday, November 16. I didn’t have to go into the office but it was still a busy day. Work/writing, running/yoga, writing my grandmother’s eulogy, getting my hair cut, and packing. Whew!
For some reason I was dreading writing the eulogy. I imagined it sucking as I wrote it, but I had some time to kill before my haircut, so I planted myself in a cafe and banged it out.
Wednesday, November 17. Had a shit ton to finish up at work that day, but our flight wasn’t till 9:30 and MB was coming down since where I work is closer to the airport than the city. So I had a couple of extra hours to finish everything up.
Then we had tons of time before we had to go to the airport. )What is it about waiting that’s just as draining as doing? More so even.) We grabbed a very quick dinner, then hung out at a coffee shop till the taxi came. Although it was less than 10 miles to the airport, the fare was still, with tip, $30. Highway robbery!
Getting through security is always rather stressful. While I have my system down cold – before I even get on line, I stuff my jacket in my bag, and take out my laptop and plastic baggie of toiletries – others do not, and so you’re always waiting for these numbskulls who seem to all of a sudden realize that they have a laptop and a Ziplock of shampoo.
No molesting by TSA agents though.
Since we got our tickets so last minute, we both had middle seats. The two women in my row were fine, but apparently MB was sitting next to someone who cried the whole time as she watched Grey’s Anatomy on her laptop, then gave him a really dirty look when he, God forbid, wanted to use the bathroom. But at least there were no delays and the flight was less than an hour, just enough time for me to read and eat a turkey sandwich.
My brother was already at at the airport, and there was no traffic at midnight. We were back at his place in less than half an hour.
Thursday, November 18. The funeral was at 11 and an hour away so we headed out at 9:30 AM. We got there real early and had time to stop at Starbuck’s. I was a little hungry but too nervous to eat anything.
Nearly the entire family on my grandmother’s side was there. All my aunts and uncles, all my cousins, some spouses. One cousin I haven’t seen in about 15 years, another in about four years, and I was amazed at how tall and grown-up looking he was. He even had one of those stylish Asian-pop haircuts.
Almost as soon as we walked in, my mom grabbed my brother and me, and we bowed to my grandmother. The body in the coffin didn’t look anything like Puo-puo. She was so tiny when in my memory she was always roly-poly, sort of like the puffy mantou she used to make.
The whole thing seemed to take forever to start. I was sad but at the same time very nervous, as I get whenever I have to speak in front of an audience, even though I was just reading off a piece of paper. The first few people spoke in Chinese – I understood very little – then finally we grandchildren went up to speak.
I was reminded of things I’d forgotten about, like Puo-puo selling her homemade pot stickers and dumplings out of her house for 25 cents each, or teaching one of my cousins mah-jongg, or gossiping with one another cousin. The cousin who got married in June told how he’d take Puo-puo shopping, tell her to wait as he parked the car, and when he’d get back, she’d be gone, already shopping. I told the story of how Puo-puo ripped a loose tooth right out of my head, right after telling me she only wanted to look at it.
Afterward the family received the guests. Then the pallbearers – Puo-puo’s sons and grandsons – brought the coffin out to the hearse
We pretty much had to go to the airport right away so we stood around eating the disgusting box lunches (weird Chinese sandwiches made entirely out of fake stuff) before heading out.
I haven’t traveled with my parents in maybe ten years, and in a way, hanging out at the airport with them was fun. I was glad my brother was there to help them with their luggage and getting through security. Then we hung out at a California Pizza Kitchen, eating, talking, and drinking coffee (McDonald’s with a shot of hazelnut syrup – delicious! good call, Greg). MB was a good sport too – very open with my family and just rolling along with everything that was happening.
The only downside was that our flight was delayed almost two hours. We don’t even know why. The weather in the Bay Area wasn’t bad at the time.
Next we needed to get my parents down to my aunt’s. Again, my brother to the rescue! He took care of renting the car and driving. MB and I originally thought we’d go straight home, but my aunt wanted to take us out to dinner so we squashed into the car too.
Everyone was really exhausted, including my aunt and uncle. We just ate at a nearby American place instead of Chinese that was far away. I really liked the food – hearty and comforting. Much hilarity ensued when my uncle tried to give my dad some of his corn chowder. At first my dad said no but then I gave him my empty bowl and he finally took some. My aunt grilled my brother about why he’s single.
My brother said, “It’s not like there’s a girlfriend store and I can just get one.”
“You’re kinda nosy,” I told my aunt.
Oh yeah, and my mother finally chided me about my super short haircut. She always wants my hair to be longer, like when I was little, although that my hair’s such a pain, and I think a long length now actually makes me look older. But my father liked it.
“It’s kind of sassy,” he said.
Yes, those words passed through his lips.
Anyway, we didn’t get back till the city till after 11. While we were driving, we somehow ended up going south again instead of north. The highways seem really confusing out there. Because of the coffee in the afternoon, I thought I’d have trouble sleeping but I had no problem. I must have been pretty tired.
Friday, November 19. While the funeral was in Orange County, the burial was in Palo Alto, which is where my grandfather is buried. (My grandparents lived in Berkeley for over 20 years.) We didn’t have to be there till one so we had time to drive out to Fillmore Street and get some food at The Grove. It wasn’t crazy crowded for once, and could enjoy our eggs and whatnot in piece. (By the way, I totally filched on the low-cholesterol diet and had bacon – yum!) We even had time to get some Blue Bottle coffee afterward.
Luckily at the burial ground there was a chapel we could hang out in since we got there so early and it was so cold. I wore a coat, scarf, and gloves, but should have worn a sweater. MB and my brother just in their suit jackets were freezing the whole time.
At the burial I got to see my cousin’s adorable kids. I kept getting distracted by them. Whenever the one-year old dropped something, she’d say, “Uh-ohhhh!” At one point my cousin’s wife was holding the baby, who promptly stuck her finger in her mom’s ear. MB and I were like, “No! Don’t do it!” The little girl just looked at us like, “What?” while the mom had no reaction. Hilarious.
Luckily it didn’t rain.
Afterward we all went to my aunt’s house. Someone mentioned something about going to a restaurant – over 20 of us at a restaurant?! – but then thankfully one of my cousins and his wife ran out and got takeout barbecue. The low-fat diet forgotten once again! It was fun to hang out with basically all of my family on my mother’s side, eat like a pig, talk, laugh, and stare at the baby who kept trying to climb the stairs and who’d reply, smilingly, “Da! da! da! da!” when my aunt, her grandmother, tried to scold her and called her a “bad, bad, bad, bad girl!”
I think my grandmother would have liked that, having almost all of her family together at once, eating and having a good time.
We all took off around 5:30. My uncle and his family had to get to the airport. My brother’s flight wasn’t till later but he had to get his stuff from our place and wanted to drop us off. We hit quite a bit of traffic on the way back up, what with the rain, but he made his flight. Whew!
SO exhausted. The next day it was so nice just to sit around, do nothing, and have no obligations. In fact I’m looking forward to whole lot more of nothing this long weekend.
Great article in The Frisky – it’s great that you have wonderful support in your brother!
thanks as always for reading! and for letting me know it was published. i knew it was going up soon but wasn’t sure when. :)