Monday, April 28, 2008

Michigan Trip

As a kid, I remember many trips up to Michigan to visit my grandparents and other aunts and uncles in Flint. They were always long, but I also appreciated the time to read when my brother and sister and I weren't bugging each other.

The trip up this weekend was a good one, even though we left at a late enough time that we hit the awful combination of rush hour traffic and construction snarl in Cincinnati, so that combined with stopping for lunch had it take 10.5 hours to get up there, rather than the 9 it should have, even without kids. We got to the hotel and all the family had just returned from the visitation at the funeral home, so we got to see everyone, even though we were tired from our trip. We got to catch up and show pictures of the kids and it was good. The relationships between all my aunts and uncles has been so great. Everyone really likes each other, even as much as they love each other, which can be rare in families with 3 kids, not to mention one that have 9 kids, like Grandma and Grandpa did.

Saturday was a roller coaster day. At the funeral home, we saw Grandma's body, which was so well taken care of. They made her look so beautiful; so different from what we saw on Tuesday night. I got to talk to a cousin in Hungary and they even put the phone on the podium so she and her family could hear the funeral there. We looked through a lot of family albums with all the kids and their families and it was great to reminisce about all the family reunions we had had and the good times we had as kids. The funeral was nice and it was about what you expect from a Church of Christ funeral. Lots of singing and a brief sermon with the hard salvation sell at the end. Overall it was nice.

We didn't go out to the cemetery immediately, but went to Grandma's church and were provided a wonderful meal. We all say around and talked, not necessarily about Grandma, but just with each other about many things. It's always been that way with that side of the family. Even with all the personalities, we all find someone or someway to get along. After the lunch, we went out to the cemetery, where I got to see Grandpa's grave for the first time. My dad's parents are buried here in Nashville and I get out to see their graves every once in a while, but I'd never been out to see the other. Grandma had already been buried and so we stood around and told stories of Grandma (many having to deal with food). It was very nice and cathartic to do that. Afterwards, Sheryl and I went and found Grandma's 10th child who died the day she was born and would have been my aunt two years older than me, which is something else I'd never seen.

After the graveside service, we went back to the hotel and hung out for a while, playing some cards and then went to supper at a burger place. And after that, the best part of the evening: 12 of us went bowling. And we had a blast. Just an absolute blast. Laughing and playing and cheering each other on. Just more fun than I'd had in quite a while. And someone might wonder, "Didn't you go up for a funeral? Was that respectful to your grandmother's memory?" To which the answer is, "Of course, it was."

Look, one of my grandma and grandpa's favorite things to do was to watch their 9 kids and their kids interact with each other. They loved watching us play and have fun and laugh and I believe with all my heart that that is how they would've wanted to act in their memory.

Even with the circumstances, it was a trip that was a lot of fun and was a great way to remember both Grandma and Grandpa.


Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your description with the exception of the little dig at the church. I don't know why people these days feel they have to do that.

Phil said...

Anonymous, what do you mean by "people these days"?

And to be perfectly honest, I find trying to convince someone to be a follower of Jesus out of fear of Hell one of the most abhorrent ways to "convert" someone. Becoming a "Christian" out of fear simply means that when the fear subsides, often the devotion does as well.

cara said...

i am so sorry to hear about the loss of your grandma. i hope you and family are finding warmth, light, love, and grace and PEACE. take care.
love, cara

Anonymous said...

Do you think the 3,000 baptized on the day of Pentecost were afraid? I think they were quaking in their boots, er sandals.

Scott said...

Phil, it pains me to see someone take you to task in a post you wrote about YOUR GRANDMOTHER'S FUNERAL!

To quote anonymous: "I don't know why people these days feel they have to do that."

Phil said...

anonymous, notice that I said, "OFTEN the devotion subsides."

For me personally, I'd rather not scare the Hell out of people; I'd rather them experience God's love, the example and self-sacrificial nature of Jesus, and life-changing power of the Spirit in their lives.

Amy said...

Phil, I loved this post. That's the kind of funeral I hope to have someday where my grandchildren go out bowling afterwards.

Funerals are sad, but they can also be good family times. I am thankful for the peace and joy you all experience together. That is a gift from your grandmother's life.

Jim Voorhies said...

That sounds a lot like my wife's family, just not 9 hours away. The last funeral we went to was a typical funeral but afterwards there was a big lunch and everyone got to visit with everyone and catch up on lives and children and there was an opportunity for the remaining generations to gather together for a huge photo together.

Anonymous said...

Phil, I just found this post because I wanted to continue reading about the Rushmore/DeSmet trip you linked to on Snarkfest. I think it sounded like a lovely visit. I was actually born in Flint and raised nearby in Lapeer. My Mom's family used to celebrate my grandmother's birthday every year with Little Caesar's and a few games at Nightingale Lanes. After reading your description, I wish we'd skipped the wake after her funeral, and honored her memory with bowling.

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