Mine are about 200 hundred miles, or roughly a 3 hours drive. Three hours is far enough away from home where I can have my own identity, but close enough I can drive home at the drop of a hat, which is what I've had to do this week. From my from door to my parents' front door is about 200 miles, give a few miles. This is far enough away for me. I was close enough to come home for my dad's first of three brain surgeries and close enough to come home for a double funeral. I lost my uncle and my grandfather this week. My family lost a husband, a father, a brother, a uncle, a grandfather, and a great grandfather. They were not part of the same accident, but two separate incidents brought them to heavens door. Neither was aware of the other's condition, and I think this was a blessing. I lost my uncle to a car accident, and I lost my grandfather to a stroke, Alzheimer's, and old age. To be honest, it's been a rough week, and never have I understood better my Irish heritage the the lyrics of of the Indigo Girls' song "to seek solace in a bottle or possibly a friend." My bottle has been a few pints of beer and my friend has been my husband. He's held me as I cried and given me the space I needed to grieve. He's given me the Irish tradition of throwing back a pint as I've looked at pictures and reminisced. He's allowed me to talk freely about what an excellent golfer my uncle Tommy was and about how excited my grandfather was when I came off the plane from Korea. He listened as I retold stories of my grandfather taking bags of chips to his bed after Alzheimer's set in and lost the ability to vocalize our names. Italian listened as I told him how much my grandfather missed my grandmother when she went to see her son in the hospital and how he held her when she finally came home. He listened as I told him about my grandfather's last smile to me. I miss my uncle and my grandfather. I am saddened that my grandmother must bury another child and this time, her husband. Let's face it, I'm just sad, very sad...but like anyone of Irish decent, I'm grateful for the time I've had. I'm grateful for the memories. I'm grateful for the final smile my grandfather gave me. I'm grateful for the times I've spent with my uncle. I've grateful for the family I've been blessed with; and finally I'm gratefully for the many people in my life. Little Clover asked me why I've been to so many funerals. I told him it's because we've been blessed with knowing so many people of all different ages and sometimes that means we have more good-byes. We've had our fair share of good-byes in this family, but we've also had more than our shares of happy memories to soften those good-byes.
Tommy and Grandpa, I miss you already.