bourgeois post-thanksgiving update

November 27, 2004

I do believe this may be a record, exactly one week since my last post. Now if you actually read my last post you would probably have an idea for the reason behind that. While I did have some internet excess in PA it was on relatives computers and therefore both infrequent, limited in time, and slower than what I am accustomed too. I am going to have severe withdraw when I know longer have my lovely T1 connection post-college….sigh.

So this week. It was a turbulent one, relaxing, sad, quick, intense, drawn-out and very family oriented. Monday morning Mom, Dad, Jonathan and I drove into PA, after first raiding the public library for reading material. I was determined to use my free-time this week to catch up on all those books I always want to read but never have time for. However this also meant we left closer to 10am and arrived in Lancaster around 9pm. Leaving that late makes the drive feel so much longer! I enjoy the 6am departure time a lot more. We stayed all week at Dave (my mom’s brother) and Jane’s house. They have hosted our family numerous times and are really wonderful hosts. They built a new house in the past few years and pretty much made the whole basement into guest bedrooms and such. It was great having their house to come back to every day.

So then starting Tuesday we picked up Grammy from Landis Homes and went to Eldon and Alicia (my dad’s brother and sister-in-law)for lunch (yummy as always). This meant I got to see their whole family again, plus Barb and Doug M(my dad’s sister and husband who are missionaries in Malawi). All of whom I hadn’t seen in quite some time. It was really disappointing to not get to see the Miller cousins (they stayed behind in Malawi), but we got to see some pictures and so forth which was good. So then after much family hanging out time, we went back to Landis Homes for Pappy’s viewing. I wasn’t entirely comfortable with seeing Pappy’s body in his coffin there in the chapel, but then I guess death is not something that is ever comfortable for the living. And as Millie put it “that is not my grandpa”. Death separates whatever spirit that makes us who we are from our bodies, and so it was odd to feel so much emotion just from viewing what is essentially an empty shell. The most moving moment was when the family gathered together in front of the coffin and Grammy saw the body for the first time. I guess sometimes I forget that old age and previously declining health don’t dim the difficult task of saying good-bye to the person who has been your partner for more than 60 years.

The rest of the viewing was interesting in the shear number of people who would shake my hand and give me their sympathies when 7 out of 10 times I had no clue who they were. It was also interesting sitting there next to Jonathan, both of us rather liberal in appearance (I did wear a skirt, but still my shortish hair, and Jonathan’s longish hair added to our general out-of placeness) shaking hand after hand of obviously conservatively dressed people. It did give me a chance though to brush up my N——-/K—— family backgrounds. I don’t know that side nearly as well as the Hess side, but actually considering on the Hess side I really only know my own circle of first cousins and aunts and uncles, I don’t know either side that well. The viewing lasted until after 9pm (it was supposed to go from 6-8), we were all pretty exhausted.

The following day was the funeral. The ceremony itself was not really moving for me, or particularly connecting for me. I didn’t know any of the preachers, or the church, or most of the people who attended. However some moving moments were Dad sharing his highly eloquent eulogy of sorts of his father at the sharing time, watching Eldon and my Dad cry more tears than I think I have ever seen them shed and also hearing what my brother, Tim wrote about his memories of Pappy (very indicative of my own). I think the most emotional part for me by far was seeing the emotional impact of Pappy’s death on others around me. Often when I cried it was not out of my own grief, but more a collective grief being expressed by those close to me and a sense of the certainty of time and death. Life can be so fleeting, even though I never knew Pappy as a young man, he had a full and rich life and impacted so many people around me. I will never know that man, but I grieved for the loss others around me were experiencing.

Thursday then was the big turkey day and our first family get-together without Pappy. For me it was clear how much Pappy’s decline since his stroke and impacted this holiday, because while it was different to not have his presence with us around the table, in someways he had been gone for almost 2 years. We spent almost the entire day at the Stauffer’s house (friends of Eldon and Alica), an amazing giving couple, who hosted the whole N——- family and showed me a glowing example of what true hospitality is. I don’t think any of us really lifted a finger then entire day.

Then it was Friday. Which ended up going very differently than originally planned. My Grandma H— (my mom’s mom) suffered an irregular heartbeat early in the morning and was taken by ambulance to the hospital. It was pretty scary for a while, because all of a sudden it felt that all my grandparents were declining so quickly. It had been a bit shocking to see Grandma earlier in the week and realize how much older she has gotten in the past 4 years. I think she is probably a good inch shorter and moves so much slower than previously. She has always been the grandparent I have felt closest too and so seeing her so fragile was very difficult. Fortunately after some tests the heartbeat appeared to unconnected to any blockage problems which seemed like good news and she should be back home by monday with some new medication. Visiting her in the hospital was also so striking. Considering I have never seen her wear anything other than a conservative dress, to see her looking so small in her hospital gown and just old, was really hard. I don’t know how my parents have been able to deal with seeing their parents age and pass on, I hope I don’t have to deal with that for many many years.

So well that brings us almost up to date. Oh two things of note are that I inherited a TV and VCR from Pappy, which will probably be shared between Jonathan, Tim and I (basically who ever needs it). Although Jonathan and I did a pretty big sacrifice by riding back from PA with the monstrous thing between us in the back seat of the car. Also I received Tim’s birthday present from London via Mom and Dad. It is a snazzy new camera carrying case. A perfect fit and very handy, thanks Tim!

Well I really need to go grab a shower and then start on all my catch-up work, so later all you bloggers out there.


  1. […] ways she has been leaving for several years.  It was actually during the trip to PA we made for my Pappy’s funeral (almost exactly 4 years ago), when I first began to see how old and ailing she had become.  But […]

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