Monday, December 14, 2009

The state of things.

Back from Ohio (for a while) and settled in to rest and sleep most of the day.

The funeral was Saturday and it went smoothly. Partly because my brother and I deliberately kept it simple (my dad was a simple guy, and really, my brother and I aren't the fancy types, either), partly because everyone was on good behavior. The firebrands of the family seem to have mellowed with age. One of my methods of dealing with huge family gatherings where manners are a priority (funerals, weddings, like that), is to run through possible 'trouble' scenarios and then decide on what I will say before it happens. DAYS before it happens. "If so-and-so starts in on _____, then I will say _____." This has saved me at such gatherings before. (You all may have noticed I tend to shoot off my mouth and get sarcastic and profane.) Long story short, we were driving home yesterday, and the husbeast suddenly said "Hey! You didn't have to use any of your phrases!"

Nope. Everyone was well-behaved and nice.

The elegy went well, I think. My uncle, the retired minister (who has done many a funeral in his day) said it was "beautifully done", so that's all right. I left out all the God Stuff. The minister took care of that anyway. I'd considered putting in a quote from one of the Taoist philosophers about kindness and a simple life (Dad had a lot more in common with the Taoists than he ever knew, and I lean toward that religion myself), but nothing I found was quite appropriate. Most of the Taoist guys make me go "wow" think for three days after even the simplest statement, so I just left it all out. Writing the elegy also had the advantage of getting all the grief out of my system early - I cried for about two days straight before the funeral, getting it written, so by the time the funeral rolled around I was able to carry on in a coherent fashion.

ETA: I didn't read the elegy myself. I wrote it and let the minister read it. I kept it third-person and fairly formal since I wasn't going to be reading it (in fact I told the hub it felt a lot like an over-emotional exercise in journalism class). Then I wrote up some personal memories (including the anecdote about the outfit, and the hilarious tale of my brother spilling a milkshake into my dad's pants pocket) and deliberately kept those funny. The minister then read the elegy at the proper time, and when we had people get up to share personal memories, the minister explained I'd written up some memories and read THOSE, which closed the memories portion with people laughing, as we'd intended. Dad had a great sense of humor and I think he'd have WANTED us to laugh at the service.

Everyone was very kind. My in-laws opened their house after the funeral, to all my family that had come into town (from Indiana). As my mother-in-law put it, "Your family is our family." My father-in-law was a rock who let me babble at him whenever I needed a shoulder, and also got my Jeep fixed overnight (and paid for it) when the idler pully ate the serpentine belt.

My niece and nephew (my brother's kids) took over with the Goober, keeping her entertained for hours. I even got to eat breakfast in peace Sunday, when we all met for a meal before heading back to our homes all over. My niece fed the Goob pancakes and did her hair. Everyone was happy with the arrangement.

A cousin of mine gave the Goober a stuffed pig to play with on the drive home, and truly saved my sanity.

A friend of mine I hadn't seen since high school (but found on Facebook) showed up at calling hours, to offer hugs and kindness.

My father was in the end stage of Multiple Sclerosis when he died, and truly, it was a mercy. The funeral and the gatherings before and after concentrated on celebrating his life. Due to the condition he'd been in, none of us could really regret his passing and the end of his suffering. After the funeral, I toasted him with a beer (Dad was a big fan of a cold beer after a hot day) and said "Here's to Dad. Even when he was a pain in the butt, he was a nice guy." and my brother laughed and said "Yeah" and clanked his bottle to mine. (Dad never saw the sense of getting a glass dirty.)

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The Christmas knitting has officially been given up on. With all this, on top of the move and everything, well, really, upon reflection I was insane to even consider it in the first place. (We've never seen me set crazy-stupid deadlines around here before, oh, no.) The in-laws will probably get the lustkofen for Christmas NEXT year. (They were so cute; when my family was at their house, they pulled out all the things I've knit for them, to brag of my skill and show my cousins and aunt and uncle how clever I am.) Which brings me to the dilemma.

I'd like to make SOMETHING for them this year, as a token, at least. I'm going to spin up some Alpaca With A Twist "Handpinner's Dream" fiber into a two-ply sport weight yarn for my mother-in-law. That was always the plan for her - since I taught her to knit, I give her yarn every year.

What do I knit for my father-in-law? He's a practical guy, but he gets dressed up a good bit (he's a retired CPA and pillar of the community). His favorite knit from me, of all time, is an icelandic wool cardigan that he insists he wears over a tee shirt and stays warm as long as the temp is over zero (-18C). So he's a HUGE fan of the warmth of natural fibers. I'm willing to pay a bit more than my usual cheapskate budget for something soft and warm, and can probably find it at Natural Stitches. But what PATTERN do I use? A scarf seems pretty blech, though he'd use it. Anyone have any ideas? If I can't come up with anything else, I'll probably do the lame fallback of a cashmere scarf.

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So, things have calmed here. I still have the odd teary moment, and my brother and I still have some details to clear up, but the chaos and shock are done with and now we just move on from here. Thanks to everyone who left comments, e-mailed, and otherwise got into contact with me to offer their sympathies. All the support coming in from all over the world was a great comfort to me. Big virtual hugs to all of you.


I could go for some more plant-freak geeking out. Tomorrow, the spice rack.

17 comments:

historicstitcher said...

How about a nice pair of gloves? It's not as stereotyped as a scarf, and you could make a simple black pair of gloves with cables on the back that he can wear all winter.

And they won't take a week to knit, looking far more clever than they really are.

bobbins said...

Oh, what a great idea, historicstitcher! Something he will wear with pride and relish the love and respect that went into them.

A little eye-candy, embroidery style. Truly AWESOME: http://tinyurl.com/y889g26

There is a link in the article to the blog where you can follow the adventure of re-creating the 17th century ladies jacket.

Fascinating scientific bent on the original crafts and methods.

Barbara said...

Perfect suggestion, historicstitcher. I was thinking gloves. They're not as fiddly to knit as you might think and always make me feel very clever. There are lots of nice free patterns on the web.

Glad to hear that your weekend went smoothly.

makinika said...

You said he gets dressed up a good bit - how about a knit tie? You could (or not) decorate it with whatever you think is funny or a classic cable.

My verification word is "gerepl". That's ones a new one to me!

Clumsy Knitter said...

I'm glad to hear that everything went well and that your father had a good send-off. Peace and love to you and yours.

amy said...

Oh, Julie, I didn't realize he had MS. My mom had that, too, but didn't live long enough for it to cause her death. (Life just isn't fair sometimes.) I'm glad you got through the weekend AND that everyone behaved. What a relief. (I often do that sort of self-talk and preparation, too. Yay, families.)

Emily said...

I, too, didn't realize he had MS. So this really would have been something of a release for him; he definitely would have wanted you laughing at the funeral!

Good for you that you had someone else read it, Julie. Speaking at the funeral of someone you love is just hard. One guy I know who did it said it was the hardest thing he'd ever done in his life, and he's a trial lawyer.

I remember the exhaustion that came after. We all slept & slept.

Gloves! Brilliant!

artificiallymythic said...

Sounds like a wonderful celebration - laughter is always the best ending to a funeral.

And about glove and hat set - the Marsan watchcap is a pretty quick and stylish knit too, and really doesn't use up all the much yarn. If you have leftovers from the gloves, you can always cap it off with a hat.

*hugs*

PICAdrienne said...

What about a Cowichian style sweater? They are nice and bulky. You seem to be a pretty determined knitter, and may be able to get it done. Another suggestion to go with the gloves would be a gaiter.

Rose Red said...

I'm glad for you that the funeral went off with a laugh and the relations behaved, you don't need added stress at a time like that.

I was going to suggest socks for your FIL - I know you aren't much of a sock knitter, but I always think handknit socks are pretty luxurious. And you could use thicker yarn to make them go quicker. But gloves is also a great idea.

KG from FB said...

Thank god your father's funeral can be remembered for the respect shown his memory, not family strife.

I tend toward heavy boot socks, or perhaps the kind of house slippers with a leather sole sewn on. I know you find socks tedious, so perhaps gloves are the perfect item!

Amy Lane said...

You know, even though a scarf sounds prosaic, a little bit of colorwork or some cables, and it would be short work, warm, and very very clever indeed.

And I"m glad it all went well. It sounds like my kind of family, and my kind of funeral. I'm glad you gave up your deadline--and I'm glad your heart feels lighter.

Roxie said...

". . .the lame fallback of a cashmere scarf."

What's wrong with this sentence? The "lame fallback" notion maybe?

A cashmere scarf is never, never lame, fer crysakes! And don't go nuts trying to decide on a pattern or pick something impossibly difficult. Seed stitch in gorgeous yarn is perfect- understated, manly, and luxe.

It sounds like you gave you dad a great sendoff. Peace.

Catie said...

I haven't posted condolences because I never know what to say without sounding like a card - I'll give it a go though. I'm sorry for your loss and glad that you gave your dad a good (and laughing) send off.

In terms of knitting - I like the gloves and the scarf idea best. He'll get a lot of use out of both.

Galad said...

Glad you made it through, celebrated some good memories about your dad and had a laugh.

I'm relieved that you gave up on the Christmas knitting. I think I was stressing on your behalf :-)

ellen in indy said...

julie, my belated condolences. (i've been out of blogreaderland a few days, so i've only just learned of your loss.)

funny things like the phone ring are what get us through such times, aren't they?

and, having lost both parents to alzheimer's, i empathize with your mixed emotions. as much as loved ones are missed, it's good to know that their suffering is over.

be sure to share the funny stories with the goober as she reaches the appropriate ages. my grandgirl has heard stories of the great-grandma and great grandpa who would have adored her, and will hear many more in her teens.

Liz said...

Just seen this, too - glad it went as well as it could have.

My Dad is a deeply conservative dresser. But he likes his knitted socks, and I can knit some slightly fancy patterning into otherwise quite dull colours.

I've made him a couple of scarves in the last few years of Rowan Felted Tweed, simple rib/knit-purl type patterns, and he wears them all the time. The second scarf was requested by my Mam, who realised the first was wearing out. They weren't all that interesting to knit, but they're in constant wear in winter, which is satisfying in its own way. And sometimes that sort of knitting is what you need when everything else is chaotic.