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1:58 p.m. - 2006-09-27

Beauty in the eye of the carver

A visit with my family is always a *hilarical event - a regular yuk-fest. Mostly due to the outrageous funny bones implanted in my nieces early in life. This potentially sombre event (my mother’s memorials) proved to be no different. In fact, the levity was a wonderful distraction. The downside was that two 22 year olds have more energy and let’s-Par-tay than the other adults in the house could muster.

Can you imagine not leaving the house until 11:30 at night to go out for a quick beer with friends?

Ahhhhh … but I haven’t been 22 in …. (blush) 22 years. My body ceased to function at 9:30pm many moons ago.

I digress.

I imparted the above portion to give you a glimpse into the few days I had with my family. There were still many tears shed, many hugs given, much loved received, but a family that can laugh through the tears can see themselves through most situations in life.

Going to my mother’s apartment for the first time was difficult. It looked no different than the last night she’d turned out the lights and gone to bed. Her glasses were left on the kitchen table, amid the clutter of the days papers. Although, my brother and his wife had stripped the bed that she had gone to sleep in for the last time, the quilt that covered her then had been returned and remade. That was the tough room for me. I could picture her there, as they had found her in permanent sleep but with a smile on her face and her hands tucked under her head as a pillow.

Absorbing it all seemed too much, yet the reality of it was very present.

T and I began to disassemble some of the kitchen. The freezer was a complete disgrace. What did this woman eat? We found three bags of partially eaten bread, a box of Ice Cream Sandwiches, several partially used bags of frozen peas, pizza pop’s, 4 trays of ice, and other random items. Anything that had been opened we pitched. Anything that hadn’t been opened or expired we donated to the building ‘lounge’ area. Someone could use it.

After that we were exhausted. This small task seemed to take a lot out of T and I, so we headed back to my brother’s for a nice glass of wine.

That evening all the family that was able to be present had arrived, and we gathered around the dinning room table with the reverend who was going to lead mom’s service on the following day, to discuss how we wanted the service. Poor man had no idea what he’d got himself into. We got far to busy reminiscing to get basic details out.

Out of all the time we spent together over the next couple of days, I found this particular hour to be the one that bonded us together the most. We found out facts about mom and told truths to each other that we’d never heard of before.

One of the truth’s that came out was all unravelled because of a simple random comment from the visiting Pastor. He simply commented that he’d noticed when he’d visited mom that there was a lovely portrait carving of our father on her wall.

Well … this began a complete tirade of correction and divulgement from my brother. This carved outline was NOT a head shot of our dad, but had in fact been carved by my father in the early 60’s. Which the rest of us knew, but the preacher man didn’t. The mere mention that it remotely looked like my dad was enough to give my oldest brother an apoplectic fit, because it was my brother’s face in profile – not dad’s. AND the fact that he (my bro) absolutely abhorred it, and had ever since the day that dad had presented the pair of carvings (one of each brother) to my mother the Christmas of 1961.

My other brother and myself were taken aback, and then the tumble of words came out of our mouths almost simultaneously – we never liked ours either!

Such confessions the like this dinning room table had never seen.

My carved profile had never been finished and had been unceremoniously handed to me like cast off cloths many years ago. I never thought it looked like me, but felt compelled to keep it. My brother’s carvings had been on a wall in every house we had ever lived in. Prized, adored, worshipped, and held in HIGH esteem by both of my parents.

Here we were – openly admitting our dislike for something that was so highly cherished by the now deceased parents. The irony of our mutuality was incredible.

Our laughter faded. The clergyman left (probably shaking his head all the way home I’m sure), and we went off to our beds for the night for tomorrow was the first of the two memorial’s for our mom.

Hilarical is a word coined by my extremely creative niece. She enjoys finding ways to combine two words and making a new one. Hilarious and comical = hilarical.

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