Tuesday, August 4, 2015

So long, Dean-o - Part I

To compound the stress of being laid off, Mommy B's grandfather Dean passed away a couple weeks ago. His health had been rapidly deteriorating for a few months, so it was a good thing Mommy B took the kiddos up to Ohio to see him back in April. On one hand I wish I had been able to see him one more time before he passed, but on the other hand I'm kind of glad I didn't see him in the state that he was in at the time.

It was Tuesday, May 30th, 2015. I was getting the kiddos ready for school so that I could come home and get back on my job searching. Before I got the kids dressed, I noticed I had a missed call and voicemail from Grandma C. As I listened to the message, my heart sank. She informed me that her father had passed away in his sleep early that morning and she was headed over to the nursing home at that moment to take care of everything. My eyes welled up and suddenly the world seemed a bit darker, like a light had gone off somewhere in the house but I couldn't tell where. I wiped my eyes and continued to get the kids ready for school... but everything felt different. The kids weren't listening to me and wouldn't do what I asked (then told) them to do. Suddenly, I lost it. All the emotion from the past couple weeks came rushing up and I blew my top. I screamed at the kids... louder than I've ever yelled at them before. It scared the pants off both of them and they began to cry, which rarely happens. I'm probably lucky the neighbors were already off to work so they couldn't hear how loud I was. In retrospect, how stupid was that? Did I really think the kids were going to hear anything that came out of my mouth after that? Did I really think that was going to teach them a lesson?

After I finished scolding them for whatever it was, I stormed out of the living room and into our bedroom to get myself changed. After I had a few moments to think about what I had just done and how dumb of a thing to do it was, I went back into the living room and sat down on the floor in front of the couch where they were both still sobbing. With tears in my eyes, I held my arms out and told them how sorry I was for yelling. Still a little wary, they both came and timidly gave me a hug. I had them sit on my lap and I tried explaining to them that I wasn't mad at them and I had just gotten some bad news and that was what I really was upset about. They both seemed to accept that and told me that they didn't like it when I yelled at them. I replied by promising to never yell at them like that again. I swore that from that point forward, I would do my best to never yell at them that way again. As their tears and sobbing subsided, I gave them big hugs and kisses and reminded them that I loved them more than anything in this world. After we all wiped our tears away, we picked ourselves up off the floor and got on with our day.

After dropping the kids off at school, I came home and promptly called Grandma C. She told me they still didn't have all the details ironed out at that point, but they were going to have a memorial service for Dean in Findlay, Ohio on Thursday at 11am. I told her I would immediately start looking for flights for Mommy B and I. I had talked with my mom the previous week about Dean's declining health, and she said that if things got really bad (which they now had), that she and Pops would watch the kids for us. She said the last thing we would want is to have to worry about the kids while going through all of that too. After some serious searching online, I was able to find some halfway decent flights from Charleston to Detroit that didn't cost an arm and a leg. We would fly into Detroit Wednesday night at midnight (then drive an hour and a half home), then fly home on Saturday afternoon just in time for the 4th of July fireworks in the Charleston harbor on the boat with my family. That would give us plenty of time for the memorial service and a whole day to hang out with Mommy B's grandma on her birthday before we came back home. Once the flights were booked, I called my mom to let her know the plan and called Mommy B so she could put her notice in at the hospital. Luckily for me, I didn't have anyone to report my leave to.

We flew to Detroit by way of Washington, D.C. late Wednesday night and actually made it into Detroit around 11:30pm. Grandma C and her friend Tom picked us up and we made the dash back to Findlay - only stopping for some wings and a beer on the way. It was close to 2:30am by the time we finally hit the sheets, and we knew we were going to have to be up in a few hours to be up, showered, dressed, and somewhat presentable by 10am. It had been a long day, but we were both glad we were there.

After what felt like a short nap, we drug our butts out of bed and put on our dreary, black clothes. Although we looked formal, it was pretty evident we were headed somewhere somber. A McDonald's patron even commented to Mommy B and I while we were waiting for a bite to eat for breakfast... He pointed to a group of younger adults who were dressed in tattoos, tank tops and pants halfway down their butts and said "You two look so nice, all clean cut and everything... and then you have this over here," thumbing in the direction of Findlay's future police blotter stars. I held my poker face and replied, "Thanks, but we're on our way to a funeral." My tone probably read more like "I appreciate the compliment of being held to a higher regard than common white trash, but I'm in no mood for comparisons at the moment." We grabbed our McMuffins and walked out, hoping that a little sustenance would help alleviate the pit in our stomachs.

We arrived at the funeral home where Uncle Tom and Grandma Great had just arrived, as well as Uncle Tim, Aunt Trisha, and Mommy B's cousins Zach and Paige. The whole clan was there, minus the patriarch. It was the first time Mommy B or I had seen the rest of the family since Dean had passed away, and the tears certainly proved it. Uncle Tom was already wet-eyed and Mommy B began the waterworks when she hugged Grandma Great for the first time. After hugs all around, we went inside and prepared ourselves for the service - with Uncle Tim and Aunt Trisha hooking up a laptop that had a streaming collage of pictures of Dean. At the front of the room was a table that held a tri-folded American flag (Dean was a former seaman in the Navy in the mid-50's) as well as the urn that held Dean's ashes. Surrounding the table was more vases of flowers than I could count, as well as two large poster boards that contained more pictures of the family - all staring Dean. After making small talk with the family, the first of the visitors began arriving to pay their respects. Little did I know what I was in for...

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