Friday, September 17, 2010

Passing of the Baton

I was in the kitchen, bright and early making pasta salad for the party in the country tonight.  My dear friend has a country house and hired a local Kansas City blues band, Levee Town, to play. We all call it Blues-a-Palooza in the Country. I tried to think how much fun it was going to be.  I tried to think of bonfires and wine and cigars and food. I tried to keep the tears at bay.  My mind kept going to Betty.

We had a death in the family yesterday and I was thinking about all that goes with the event, while chopping vegetables.  How much I loved her and how much she loved me and my family, how fun she was and how much laughter she brought to the entire family.  She was the cousin of my mom-in-law.  That makes her my husband's second cousin, my daughter's third cousin, and my grand children's fourth cousin.  Her adult children grew up with my husband.  They now have grandchildren. I've lost track of the continuing cousin levels.  No need to know.  All I know is, we are family and we are all saddened.

We will gather in the country to grieve together, laugh together, eat together, and just hang on to each other.  It's what a family does.  This may very well be the last country funeral I will ever attend. (By the way, country funerals are very different from city funerals.  I will describe in another post) She is the last of the relatives to live in Walnut Grove, population 600.  Even the name of the town stirs up images of a small town much like the Walnut Grove in the Laura Ingalls Wilder stories.  It is not the same one, however, it shares all of the characteristics of Laura's Walnut Grove.

The family members, on our limb of the family tree, were called last night with the news of the death.  They will need to be called again as more information is available.  There will be a dinner at the church on Sunday.  The ladies of the church need a head count.  Flowers will need to be ordered.  Family members will need to be called again with all the particulars of the dinner, visitation, and funeral.  I will be handling all of this as the representative of our part of the family tree.  Thank goodness for email, texting, cell phone, and land line.

I have been handed the baton of the matriarch of the family.  I now realize it.  It's been coming on for quite some time now.  More and more family gatherings at my house.  Family members asking me for the latest update of other family members. Holiday central is right here.  And, I have become a caregiver for both the mom and dad of my husband.  But, today, it's official.  My husband's mother asked me to order the flowers for the family.  Yep, in this family, that would be the indication of the leadership roll.

My mom-in-law had all sons.  No daughters.  I have been married to her oldest son for almost thirty nine years.  I am now caring for the parents of my husband.  They raised the nicest human being I have ever known.  They are the grandparents to my daughter.  They are the great grandparents to my grandchildren. It is an honor, and a lot of work, to care for them.  I am very close to them. 

In the past, whenever there was a death of a family friend or relative, she would call with the news and then call again with the particulars.  She would make a point to tell us that she had taken care of the flowers for the family.  For a long time, I didn't really know what that meant.  One time, when they were living almost two hundred miles away, in the height of their busy retirement years, I had taken it upon myself to order some flowers from just us.  It was for the funeral of a mutual friend. A few days after that funeral, she informed me that she had ordered flowers....for the family.  Not knowing it was the unwritten rule of the family for her to do that,  I told her I too had ordered flowers for us.  The look on her face was one of shock and disbelief.   Uh oh, I had over stepped the boundaries of the funeral rules of the family.  From that day on, she always made it a point to tell me that she was doing the flowers.  End of funeral flower discussion. 

Today was different.  I had called to check on her, knowing she had a fretful night.  She and her cousin were like the sisters neither of them had.  They were around each other as much as possible as they grew up.  They lived close to each other when they married and raised their families.  They have always remained close, up to the end.  She was doing pretty good.  She asked about all the family members I called and what their plans were.  She wanted to make sure they all knew how to get to Walnut Grove and did they know where the church was.  I just said they knew.  I didn't have to go into an explanation of Mapquest, Google Maps, cell phones, texting, or GPS.  Then, she asked me what kind of flowers to send.  Mind you, this is the lady who had been ordering funeral flowers since the baton was passed to her after her own mom had passed!  I told her I thought something very sweet and feminine would be nice.  She then asked if I would take care of it.  At that point, right then and there, I knew I was the official matriarch of the family.  The go to person, the confidant, the soother of hurt feelings, information central.  The Top Mom.  Holy shit!  This is for real.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I've noticed what men will do....

I was at the Royals baseball game over the weekend.  Before the game started I was sitting in my seat, drinking a beer, and eating homemade potato chips with blue cheese, green onion, and bacon.  Decadent on so many levels. The Kansas City weather had calmed down and decided to act like San Diego.  I was in my own personal heaven.

The players on the field were going through their pre-game routines.  As I watched a group of guys walk from the dugout, all the way behind right field, to the bull pen, I couldn't help but notice one particular guy.  He had on a hot pink Barbie or Hello Kitty backpack. Not one other player had on a backpack.

I came up with two possible reasons why a Major League Baseball player would walk across a ball field wearing a hot pink backpack:

1.  He lost a bet with some of the guys.  Guys take betting seriously.  Including payoff and the big loss.  It's what they do.


2.  His little daughter asked him to use it so she could see him on TV.  Dads will do ANYTHING for their daughters.  Anything.  It's what they do.