February 27th, 2011

Catch-up

Since this will probably be the only time between now and March 1 that I have to write, I figured I should say something. Probably no well-thought-out prose this time, but you can blame this endless graduate school paper for that.
Speaking of, it’s a massive review of the literature that’s supposed to be a minimum of 15 pages. I think my greatest fear with this thing is that I’m probably just not doing it right. I’m doing mine on enhancing vocational outcomes. It is to be the first chapter of my Master’s project, oo scary! If I don’t survive this thing though, I can kiss grad school bye bye.
Onto other things: my grandma’s funeral was last Saturday. But first, I arrived in Charlotte on Friday night with my cousin’s girlfriend, as she lives in the area. We had a nice family dinner at Golden Coralle, although my cousin, his girlfriend and I got there towards the end of things. It was ok though, as folk lingered for a little while longer to chat with us.
After eating, we went to my youngest sister’s house for a little more chatter, and I had a glass of white whine. I think that’s the first I’ve ever had of that kind. It was pretty good, actually. We just reminisced over some of those grandma memories I chronicled in the previous entry. All but one of my sisters were there, which was nice as we so infrequently gather these days outside of maybe Thanksgiving.
Then, my cousin and I went to bed down at my Uncle’s house. I can’t really remember the last time I slept in there, but doing so definitely brought back its own flood of memories. I’d taken the netbook with me in order to try and whack out a few paragraphs of this paper, but the few sentences I did cobble together were so bad that I just gave up on that idea and didn’t even bother saving my work. My cousin and I just mulled over life until nearly 1:30, with my uncle popping in periodically to interject his thoughts.
I had to wake up very early on Saturday in order to get my hair cut. There was a barber close by, fortunately, and they made quick and efficient work of knocking all of that stuff off. I’d like to go back to that place, actually. Then my uncle had to scare up some clothes for me to dress up. I have very few of those, but need more. We found enough stuff that worked, and after coaxing my cousin out of bed and through the shower we were off.
Much as it had been when my grandfather died, my grandma’s funeral was of course somewhat sad but much more of a celebration of her life. We’d all gathered at and departed from my Aunt’s house in the limo to head for the church. We have the viewing portion at the beginning, during which each guest files past the body at the front to pay their respects. I hadn’t been warned that this was going to happen at my grandfather’s funeral, and thus I jumped when my hand was placed on the body. The person with whom I walked this time kept me informed as each thing happened, which made it easier. We, the family, then took our seats on the front row and shook hands with everyone as they passed.
I can’t quite remember what exactly the pastor preached about, the venerable Pastor Jones, but the words were stirring as always. I was particularly surprised to note that the pastor from First Missionary Baptist Church in Southern Pines had come down as well. I was also moved to tears by a woman who sang a beautiful solo piece. We sang what I take to be one of my grandma’s favorite hymns as well: Blessed Assurance. You can click that link to see what it sounds like musically, as well as to view the lyrics. That song really does take me back to childhood whenever I hear it.
Back into the cars for the procession to the gravesite. Here, I talked to my biological father and to his mother, whom we called grandmother. I hadn’t seen her in at least 20 years. She still insisted on calling me Alexander, and so had to tap me in order for me to know to whom she was even speaking. She gave me that name, and is pretty much the only person who uses it.
At the site, my cousin and I along with I think six other individuals? Were pallbearers. This meant we carried the casket over to where it would ultimately be placed. It was a solemn experience, knowing that her body would rest there. I had to be turned around a few times, but we worked it out.
Back to the church for the traditional meal. We definitely ate a lot that weekend. Once we were done with that, we had to be driven back across town in the limos again, since everyone had left their cars at my Aunt’s house. As we watch the University of North Carolina’s basketball team sloppily take down Boston College, more chatter ensued. I was also given a huge slab of chocolate, a UNC backpack, packages of peanut butter and thin mint girlscout cookies, and a few other things. I was touched, and I can’t fully express how much the support my family has given and continues to give means to me.
That was the crux of the weekend. On Sunday, my cousins and I attended church with my uncle. Before we left though, he read us the story of his cross-country trip with his son, my youngest cousin. It was fascinating, as he’d described views of the Grand Canyon, the Utah sky, and Santa Monica California. There was also a harrowing experience involving a trip to Coors Field in Denver, the home of the Colorado Rockies, during which my cousin became ill, probably due to dehydration. In his true fashion, he countered the paramedics advice to seek further medical attention in a hospital saying “but I wanna go to the game”. Two miracles happened: my uncle said that someone seemed to appear out of nowhere with a rather elaborate set-up providing both water and ice, and the seats he’d purchased for the game were in the only shaded section throughout. So they did in fact manage to see that game.
And I suppose that was all of interest that really happened during that weekend. As soon as I got back, probably as a function of the weather being near 80 on Monday and upper 30’s on Tuesday, I got pounded with a rather viscious cold from which I am still trying to recover. Needless to say, it couldn’t have come at a worse time. There have also been some positive developments, but I shall go into detail on those in a future entry. For now though, I will wrap this up and say that I hope all is well with you. Night.