Is it really bad that when I saw the writing prompt for this week I had more trouble deciding which time as opposed to whether this happened to me at all?
It started young and I guess that’s where I’ll begin. I’m not much of a crier and my response to being yelled at etc. is usually to laugh. This tends to annoy people. Oh well, we are who we are and you can only change so many things.
I come from a long line of inappropriate laughers-my mom and sister being the most recent in the lineage.
Here is our worst story and one of my first outward examples that this was going to be a long-lasting family trait. We’ll see where my daughter falls pretty soon.
The year that I was seven my family had one of those years that every family gets at some point. The year of the deaths. You know what I mean. The year that uncles, grandparents, friends etc. all seem to pass away in a succession and after a time it almost becomes farcicle. Your ‘funeral’ clothes get such a work-out that it becomes macabre and you vow to get rid of the hated articles really soon.
That was our year.
We lost my Grandpa Gibson which was in a way a blessing having seen him suffer with Alzheimer’s for many years before but then we lost my Grandpa Hatch.
Grandpa Hatch wasn’t really related to us but had adopted our family as his own and we saw him almost everyday. He would swing by in his VERY large, gold Chrysler and we’d pile in. My sister and I would be in the back, sliding from side-to-side on the slippery vinyl seats trying to hang onto the door handles as we rounded corners. This was a time before seatbelts. Heidi, the boxer dog, would be co-pilot with her head out of the window flicking globs of saliva behind her as the wind caught her enormous lolling tongue. You needed to dodge those as much as possible.
We’d stop at Dairy Queen for chocolate dipped cones and whoever drew the short straw would have to hold Heidi’s for her. I now know that you aren’t supposed to feed dogs icecream or chocolate but Heidi lived until almost 20 so…
Grandpa Hatch was the best. He was a fun, replacement Daddy while ours was away investigating murders in Northern Ontario. He was always there.
Until the day we got the call that he’d had a heart attack while changing a tire on the way to Florida.
That just wasn’t real.
Someone that big just couldn’t be gone.
When we went to his funeral it still wasn’t real.
Maybe that’s why what happened next happened.
My Dad was a pall bearer and in full dress uniform (he’s a retired Ontario Prov. Policeman now-so was Grandpa Hatch), there were a lot of medals. The OPP commissioner was there…
My mom, sister and I stood together in our fanciest wear. All around us were hats, veils, sniffling and snow.
And then it happened. They started to lower the casket into the ground, Nana Hatch leaned-in to place her flowers and…she slipped.
Not slipped all the way in, just kinda slipped and then was caught by one of the many uniformed arms.
There was a collective gasp and the three of us just lost it.
We started to laugh, not out loud, just uncontrollably. Shaking. We hid it by burying our faces in kleenex and shaking. Everyone assumed we were sobbing. My Dad knew the truth and was less than impressed.
I guess in a way we were sobbing.
Maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing-to laugh. Maybe it was a release. Maybe it was an honest reaction and maybe it was a fitting way to say goodbye to a heck of a guy who never seemed to get serious.
Go and have a Dairy Queen Icecream and think of the days when you road without seatbelts with your Granddad at the wheel.