Philip (philaros) wrote,


I'm updating from my parents' home in New Hampshire. My last remaining grandparent, my dad's mother - Me'mere, as we French-Canadians called her - passed away on Friday. She'd been gradually getting worse for a while, so while the particular occasion was a surprise, it was not unexpected, so to speak. In fact I had decided a couple weeks ago that I would have to go home for Christmas this year, expense be damned, because I figured if I wasn't going to be here sooner for her funeral, then Christmas would be the last time I'd see her alive. Instead it's turned out that last Christmas was the last time. Early afternoon on Friday when my phone rang and I saw that it was my parents calling, I knew immediately what the call was about.

Last weekend I'd had a dream that I was back at home in my old bed and I could hear my mom downstairs saying something to my dad - I think maybe it was something about me still being upstairs sleeping. (Arguably this wasn't a dream so much as a sleep-time rememberance.) It was a little disorienting to come awake and realize I wasn't in that bedroom. I actually had that dream twice that night, too. Then, Friday morning I had a dream that I was playing in orchestra, and one of my younger cousins was there too, but he was messing around some, and Me'mere got up from the audience and stepped forward to scold him a bit, in her good-natured way. Then when I awoke I thought, wait that's all wrong, that cousin belongs to the other side of the family! Anyhow, the night before as I got ready for bed, I had actually been thinking about Me'mere and the chances that I'd have to come here for her funeral before Christmas, so I'm sure both dreams are just coincidental, but still it was a bit weird.

So, I flew out here on Saturday, attended the wake and small family gathering yesterday, and the funeral today. It was very good to see my extended family again - some of these people I haven't seen since my grandfather's funeral seven years ago, or even longer, and in all honesty some of them I'm not likely to see until the next funeral happens. More than one person said how nice it was that I'd come all the way out for the funeral. I really couldn't have passed on it, but still I'm glad that they appreciated it.

There are two short stories about Me'mere that I'll share, one from before I was born and one that I remember. Me'mere never drove, but my grandfather (Pe'pere) tried teaching her once. Their driveway was on the side of the house, and Pe'pere told her to back the car out of the driveway. Apparently she started it moving and attempted to turn it onto the street, but she cut the wheel so sharply while stepping a bit much on the gas that the car lunged around the corner of the house and hit the front steps. As I've heard it, Pe'pere was laughing too hard to stop her, though I'm not sure how true that is. In any case, only yesterday was I told that apparently she did end up getting her license, but she never actually drove again after that.

The story I remember is from one time that she was babysitting us. After dinner, there wasn't quite enough vanilla ice cream to go around, and there also were only a few Oreo cookies left. But Me'mere said that was okay; she put a cookie in each bowl, added a little ice cream to each, and mixed it up. Nowadays you can buy cookies and cream at the supermarket or ice cream stands, but in the late 70s no one was doing that commercially; it was the first time I'd ever heard of such a thing, and it'd be a few more years before I'd see the first Steve's Ice Cream parlor in Boston, which claimed to be the home of "smoosh-ins" as they called it. Friday night, when I was at the grocery store, I knew that I needed more ice cream, and as I stopped to think about what to get I realized there was of course only the obvious choice, and brought some cookies and cream home.

Tomorrow I'll be flying back to Seattle. This coming Saturday is my "condoversary" as I've been gleefully calling it, and I'm having a party to celebrate. I'm glad that I didn't have to cancel that event, but if this had all happened a week later, I'd have cancelled the party and come home for the funeral, and I still wouldn't regret it.
Tags: dreams, family

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