I didn't imagine on Monday that today all of these things would be done already.
Tuesday night we visited my family in Mountain View, and learned that all the formalities of death would be done by Thursday. Andy had offered our services for producing the programs for the events; apparently, while the funeral home offers such services, the prices they charge are inordinately high. It cost us a few hours of effort, but I think everyone agrees the personalization we put into it was worth it.
I notified work that I'd be gone for the days, and then did my best to get ready for it. Fortunately, i still possess a suit or two i can fit into. I don't know why i was so fixated on wardrobe, my grandfather wouldn't have cared if i had worn a sweater and jeans. I know i don't really care that much for my extended family's opinion. Perhaps i felt like i needed to look well for my grandmother, for my father. I have thought in the past that i didn't really realize my place in my family, but i feel i'm starting to. I feel like a tenuous link in my familial chain, connecting its past with its future. I feel fortunate that my grandfather got to see the future of his family before he died.
After the programs were made and the family attired properly, we headed down. We made it to the house before anyone else was even dressed; I took my aunt, who had made all the arrangements, to the funeral home to make sure the body looked ok. Seeing the shell of the Giant from my youth lying still in the wooden box reminded me of the other two viewings i had been to in this very same funeral. We were greeted by one of the owners of the funeral home, who dealt with us very brusquely. We asked for his advice of where to put programs and flowers and pictures and the guest book we brought, and he pointed out that "the family was going to take care of all of that." As if, because we didn't pay enough, he couldn't deign to say "this is where people will come in." I understand these places offer their expertise as a service for hire, and i have no idea how much money was spent for their services to begin with, but it seems like someone in his business would have more tact than that. I felt like we were trapped in an episode of six feet under.
We decided, upon seeing the body, that the lips were too pink, and we asked to speak with the cosmetologist to correct it. We had to wait for an hour (an hour after the viewing started!) to speak to him. I decided that grandma should probably not come until after all the corrections were made. My father showed up when just my aunt and i were there. The three of us had a chance to grieve together, which was good. I hadn't had a chance just let go, and for some reason i felt comfortable doing it with them, and they needed to be able to do so as well. I had expected to have this experience with my dad when we first saw each other at the airport, but it didn't happen until we were both there in the presence of the lifeless husk of our shared ancestor. My aunt probably hadn't had a chance to let go since it happened, as she had busied herself with making the necessary arrangements. I can't say it felt good, but it certainly felt necessary.
I went back to the house and waited to take my grandmother to the viewing. She wanted to go near the end, and i can't say i blamed her at all. Andy had gotten very quesy in the early afternoon... Antonio had given us both a present in the form of a stomach bug. We're still recovering, and it peaked in intensity for Andy between the viewing and the Rosary. I think because i hadn't had much of an appetite and hadn't eaten that much, i was spared the worst of it. In any case, we ended up taking turns taking care of Antonio (along with my mom) during the Rosary: he refused to sit still or be quiet. We arrived too late for me to be a pallbearer, which made me a little sad. We had to leave immedately after the mass because of the sickness, and didn't get a chance to meet with the extended family... I would get to see them all the next day, which i will write about later.