Thursday, August 26, 2010
send off week...
Boo started this year of schooling on Monday. What happened to starting after Labor Day? Apparently youth is not as important as it once was. Everyone is in a rush to grow up, do something, go places…be somebody.
Bear’s entering into the sixth grade. They started changing classrooms for different subjects last year. It was a transition for getting organized for my Boo. She ended up in the hoosegow more times than not for forgetting a paper, a notebook or a textbook when arriving at the next class. Three minutes between classes just didn’t cut it.
One of Bear’s classmates was so afraid of not having something she needed at any given time, she never put anything in her locker. She carried it all with her. All the time.
Her damn backpack weighed over 40 pounds. She only weighs 65.
The mothers would get together and bitch about it. But we never said anything…to the school officials at least. We would just talk amongst ourselves.
I guess we must have spoke loudly. They okayed the use of rolling backpacks this year. AND they bought new textbooks that are split into several sections so each textbook doesn’t weigh 7 pounds, only 1. That’s good stuff. They’ve also changed it so there is 6 minutes between 4th and 5th periods. It allows the kids to get the stuff needed for the second half of the school day. But they aren’t allowed to carry backpacks at all this year. They must carry their books and folders needed in hand.
They must have those little developing backs in mind. For once. I kept thinking that if my daughter develops some sort of back trouble later on, I’m holding her elementary school accountable.
They must have heard how loudly I was thinking that. Thus the change. I wonder if I'll get some sort of waiver soon in one of the weekly news envelopes...
But the start of school and sending Bear off on her daily routine isn’t the only send-off I’ve had this week. As you might already know, my best friend Chrissy’s dad past away over the weekend. I didn’t get the word until Monday. I went to the wake. I went to the funeral. I held it together.
I wanted to be there for Chrissy, but I hated going. It brought up all the thoughts of my mom and her funeral just over a year ago. Her dad was to her as my mom was to me. Indispensable. Fantastic. Wonderful. The more loved parent.
I hate funerals. They make me physically ill. I can feel the bile rising if I think about it too much. Funny that I was going to go to medical school. When death makes me sick. Literally. I guess all my patients would have to stay alive. Or I'd be a mess. Could you imagine me tending to a terminally ill patient? "Hi, Mr. Corrigan. How are you feeling today? The chemo helping out at...." Spew. Chunks. It's probably a good thing I changed professions before continuing with that line of work. Too bad I decided after I'd taken the MCATs.
The funeral was beautiful, although I didn’t get much of it. It was all in Armenian, except the Eulogy. That was presented in broken English. My brain didn’t even register it was in my own language until the third sentence. I didn’t know when to stand, when to sit, when to join in what sounded like the Lord’s prayer or when to give the sign of the cross. I was definitely an outsider; an ‘Odar’ or non-Armenian.
I always like to take in my surroundings. I was sitting with several of Chrissy’s close friends, one that she’s known since they were 4. I’ve met them all before, but it had been many years since I’ve seen any of them. It’s a East side-West side thing here in Cleveland. For that matter since Chrissy’s moved back to the East side I hardly see HER anymore. Which sucks donkey doo if you ask me. It's only 18 miles. You'd think she lived in another state. Maybe if she lived in another state I'd see her more. We'd plan things. We take for granted that they are here. You know?
But as I looked around this church, which happens to be the only Armenian church in Cleveland, I notice that the depiction of Mother Mary over the alter is of distinct resemblance to Chrissy herself! I mentioned that to the other Odar’s with which I was sitting and yup, it was unanimous that if Chrissy were indeed wearing red lipstick, she’d look like the mother of Jesus.
Wait. Red lipstick?
Yes…the Mother has some rather red lips. Who knew? And it was the main alter she presided over with the baby Jesus giving what looked to be a high five surfer hand signal. I'm used to Mary being on the side and a simple cross hanging above the alter. Mary's usually at the side.
There's a tortured looking Jesus was on the left side of the church in a little alcove apse. And some dark, brooding, sinister looking guy on the right side. There was a red veil over some old black leather bound book of Gospels. Who is that scary guy? I haven’t a clue. I couldn’t imagine sitting there as a child. Those images might give you nightmares. They would me.
Chrissy’s dad was very involved with the church. The rest of the family…not so much. Chrissy herself said that she hadn't been there in fifteen years. She told me that the priest made her very aware of that fact. Go figure. It was obvious that St. Gregory of Narek was going to miss him. I heard it mentioned several times that they wouldn’t have been able to build the cultural hall without his overly persuasive letters sent out to parishioners and local business’s to support the project. At least two people attending the luncheon following mentioned ‘No one could possibly say 'No' to that man and his letters’. That made me giggle. It was hard to imagine George as a mafia-esque money gatherer for the his congregation when the most recent photo I’d seen of him wearing google-eyed spring glasses.
George was a veteran of the Korean war. So the Honour Guard was at the gravesite. I’ve seen the Honour Guard in movies, but never in person. Quite a moving sequence of events. I was curious how long they trained to make their folds in the American flag…just so. The salute crisp. The steps perfectly planned. Taps played with just the right tempo and volume.
Chrissy approached me after the conclusion of the internment service. “Thanks for coming Nancy, I really appreciate it….” she said through red rimmed eyes. Her hair was pulled back tight in a high pony. Her mom had made mention that her dad liked Chrissy with her hair away from her face. Chrissy’s mom is well versed in the passive aggressive. Chrissy was sure to have not a single strand anywhere near her cheekbones. Her red eyes didn’t shock me, I’d witnessed her crying several times off and on throughout the services. What shocked me was her rapid approach.
Geez…she saw me last night at the wake. I know it’s been awhile before that, but what the…..her hand was rising towards my head. I thought ‘should I back up?’ That brief moment where the fight or flight instinct kicks in…”Nancy! Don’t MOVE!” Whack. Her hand smacked through the right side of my head.
“Whaa………?” was all I could manage.
The people lingering at the gravesite started to turn to find out who could be upsetting the youngest daughter of the recently departed.
“A spider. A big spider. It was IN YOUR HAIR!”
How long had it been there? Where did it come from? There weren’t any trees nearby. Did anyone else see it and think it a hair decoration like the peacock feather headbands all the rage? Had I actually reached up and fluffed my hair and had a spider bite my hand, or fall out on my clothes, or make it’s way down into my clothes, or my neck before she killed it….Ugh. The mere thought makes my skin started to crawl. I’m sure I probably would’ve passed out right then and there.
Maybe even died of a heart attack.
They could’ve just rolled ol’ George-y over a notch and I’d join him in his eternal resting place. The priest was still there and all. I’m sure he’d have said a prayer for me. Even if I were an Odar. And it would make his wife Jean happy…she’d only have to pay half the funeral cost. A discount. A bonus.
And maybe, just maybe, with giving the funeral home business for two services instead of one, she’d get Chrissy that date with the single brother of the funeral home...after all.
Please say a little prayer for Chrissy and her family.
I love you, Christine.