1- We were supposed to leave at 10:30 Thursday morning. At 9:30, Greymalkin & Nightshade zipped out the door when I went to carry my suitcase out. Malkin recognized the “mama WILL kill you” tone of my voice when I screamed for them to get back in the house and obediently trotted back to the porch. Shady did not. I spent nearly an hour chasing her dumb butt around the house, yard, and cars before she finally decided she’d had enough and wanted to go inside. So I’m already in a good & foul mood.
2- Every stop was the same fight. First we had to battle to get my dad OUT of the car. My favorite moment was asking him why it took so long to open a door and get his legs out and he looked at me and said “I need to rest a minute first.” Rest for what? You haven’t had to do a thing but sit there for 2 hours!!! Then we’d have to fight to get him back IN the car. I sent a group of bikers into hysterics at one stop when I finally snapped and screamed “Get your withered old butt in the car NOW, dammit!”
3- We had had relatively good weather until we hit Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Then the bottom dropped out of the sky. And as we did the last 20 or so miles into Waterloo, the thunder & lightning show started. Once we hit the outskirts of town, I needed directions to the hotel. Mom looked at me blankly and said”I thought you knew how to get there.” She had the printed directions IN HER HANDS but didn’t want to turn on the lights to read them in case “it distracted you.”
4- I felt really bad for my poor cousin Katie. She just had a baby 10 days ago (the day Aunt Lora died), is dead tired, and just wants to stay home with her newborn. So of course she’s been dragged out to a family gathering and the kid is being passed around like a beer at a frat party. (She and her husband Nate fell asleep sitting up with their heads fallen sideways against each other at one point)
5- Mom's childhood friend, Gail, came to the funeral. Her daughter Pauline & I were sitting together with her 3 kids. The youngest asked if they’d been there before and was told that her great-grandpa was buried there somewhere, her grandpa was buried somewhere else, and then Gail cheerfully added “and Grandma is in my closet!” Pauline & I cracked up- it sounded like a deranged children’s story. Coming soon to bookstores near you- Grandma’s in the Closet- a Burial Primer for Inquisitive Children.
6- after the funeral, I took Dad back to the hotel. My aunts said they’d bring Mom back later. Got a sandwich from the shop in the lobby, which was very good. I tried to nap and managed to get in 30 minutes of sleep before the World’s Noisiest Asshat Convention checked in across the hall. Gave up on sleeping and read for a bit before giving up on that and going out to the shopping center nearby. Tried to see if Dad needed to go get dinner, but he didn’t answer the door. (found out later he’d gone to the casino) Browsed in a couple of stores, read magazines in the B&N, and stopped for a burger at the sandwich place in the lobby on my way back in. The same cashier was working and said “Hello again!” I said I was surprised she remembered me as busy as they’d been. She told me I was the only person to say please or thank you to them all day, which is why she remembered me.
7- Sunday: At 3 a.m. I went across the hall to bang on the doors of the rooms hosting the World’s Noisiest Asshat Convention. At 3:05 I called the front desk to tell them they could send security up to get them or a cop up to get me when I attacked their door with a fire-axe. At 3:15, I heard “Police, open the door now!” By 3:30, 3 of the asshats were in custody and the rest of them shut the hell up.
8- More of the usual on the drive home. We stopped for lunch at the diner again. (got my usual this time- wasn’t making THAT mistake again) Then, about an hour later, we got a vivid reminder of WHY we don’t stop anywhere that isn’t immediately visible from the interstate. Mom wanted a bathroom break, and couldn’t wait. The exit sign said there was a gas station, there WAS, but it was about 3 miles in from the highway. I had a sinking feeling as we drew up to it, and it proved to be right. I got out of my car at the same time a shirtless guy got out of his truck. As I walked past him, I realized all of his numerous tattoos were variations on the Aryan Brotherhood theme. Uh oh. Then I realized that everyone in the lot was staring at us, a LOT of them had similar tats, and Bubba was on his cell phone saying “You are not going to BELIEVE what just walked past me!”
I turned around and walked back to the car- my parents were just finally getting out, and I said “get back in; we’re going to another exit.” Daddy started to argue and then he heard a little boy say “Hey, Papaw, why is that white lady riding in a car with niggers?” He looked at me, I looked back at him, and then he said to my still oblivious mother, “Get back in the car, Marie.” Mom started to argue and we both screamed “GET BACK IN THE DAMN CAR!” I literally burned rubber out of that lot, and didn’t stop until another exit 30 miles up the road.
Then when we did stop again, Dad went back into molasses in January mode getting out of the car. I realized I had pulled up to the gas pump on the wrong side if the car, so after my parents got out, I went to pull around. What does my father do? Walk directly into the path of the car. The store, BTW, was directly across from him as he got out, so there was NO reason for him to walk in front of me. Mom yanked him out of the way by the back of his shirt. I pulled forward, turned around, and headed back toward the pump….where my father was standing there examining it like he’d never seen one before. I rolled down the window and screamed at him to move. “I’m just looking,” he says. Yeah, and I’m just going to kill you now and be done with it.