Wednesday, May 13, 2015

What a Long Strange Trip It's Been

It's nice to know I'm not just writing for the black hole that is the internet.

Several people have written to say, basically, "what happened?" and I apologise for not saying something in advance.

So normally, life just kind of goes in predictable cycles and I go right along with it.  The last couple of weeks have been, well, different.

Monday, 27 April, Charity called me from work around 5, very upset.  A sister called.  Her father, who's been sick for a while, had taken a turn for the worse and she wanted to head to Alabama.
By the time she got home, I had a ticket on an 8pm flight to Birmingham, the closest airport.  She packed, I drove her to National, and she was in Alabama before midnight.

Why didn't I go?  At the time I really wanted to but now I'm glad I didn't.  It was a family affair; they spent a lot of time in hospital or making arrangements for her dad.  At the time I didn't go because I had committed to a full weekend in Hampton (2.5 hours away without traffic) with Number Two Son at the Technology Student Association.  I promised to drive him and three teammates down there and to judge a couple of events.

My big fear was that there would be a funeral over the weekend and I wouldn't be there to support Charity when she needed it.

There's no upside to any of this, but at least the timing worked out: he died on Friday (5-1-15).  The viewing wouldn't be until Monday and the funeral Tuesday.

The kids and I were stuck in traffic coming back on Sunday and I had to drop four kids off around the area.  By the time I got home it was after 8.  I unpacked, repacked, made a reservation for 6am the next day and 6pm return flights for Tuesday.  I got to BHM around 10 and we spent a few hours together before catching up with the family again.  She really had no "away" time for a week and seemed to need it.  We had some quiet time dining, shopping (she needed shoes), and getting manicures.

I only met her dad once.  He was ailing and weak but he showed me around his property, pointing out all of the different things that he was growing so he could can them.  Afterwards, he kind of had to rest up, but I thought I was pretty important that he'd put in that scarce energy to do that.  But now I think he'd do that for anyone.

Charity is doing better.  I did as short a day as I could on Wednesday when I found out she decided she needed to take the day off and I didn't want her to be alone.  Today is our fifth mensiversary... and we're still going strong!

Three notes: the cemetery was in a churchyard where they had the service (the town she grew up in is not quite a one-horse town but it is a one-hearse town: they recently got their second funeral home).  The service was run by three ministers, two southern Baptists who spoke a hundred miles an hour and used "father" the way other people would use "you know:" father, he's gone, father, to a better place, father, and although, father, his family father and friends, father, will miss him father...."  No exaggeration.  The third was with the VFW and did a graveside prayer.  There was also a singer who, during prayers, stood by the organ and took what I called the "heckler" role.  He punctuated each prayer with loud "Amen!"  "I hear you!"  "Yes!" and so on.

As a veteran he had a military presentation of the flag and taps.  Two soldiers wear dress whites, down to their white gloves, and move like mechanical men.  Taps is played flawlessly because it is a recording while the soldier mimes playing.  I don't mean to be disrespectful but I found it a poor climax to a nice service.

Finally, the next time you're flying think of this: I was on a 6am flight.  I caught a cab at 4am to get there on time.  At the gate, in front of me, was a couple and their three elementary school age kids.  They handed the woman at the gate their passes and she said "these are for the 6pm flight."  They turned around and walked away briskly without a word.  One of the adults had the worst day EVER, and your next trip won't be as bad as theirs.


  1. Thanks for the update.
    Condolences to Charity.

  2. I will keep you, Charity and her family in my thoughts and prayers. I am glad for Charity that she had you to be with her and to support her during this time.

  3. So sorry to hear that you have been going through such a tough time, It is always hard to lose a parent, my thoughts are with you both.

    I can't help thinking that something played imperfectly by a real, present, person is always going to be better than a "perfect" recording, but then I am a musician.

  4. So sorry to hear about Charity's loss, please convey my sympathies to her. I too was at a viewing and funeral those days, although in Iowa. My GF's step-mother passed away, and the viewing was on 5/4, funeral on 5/5.



  5. Again, sorry to hear of Charity's and your loss. Sounds like dad had a very nice (read - familiar to him and all the family & locals) send off. The recorded taps thing is the best the military can do for many of our honored vets because there are just too many of the older greatest generation who are dying at an alarming rate . . . and there are not enough trumpeters in the military to cover all the funerals. Importantly, they send an honor guard, the family should receive a flag, and the Country thanks the survivors for the service of the departed and honored service member.

    I hope that you and Charity now get some down time where you can just enjoy each others company and leisurely enjoy life. May I suggest a trip to Dumbarton Oaks Estate's Gardens in Georgetown (not the park, the formal gardens attached to the historic estate). It's a really cool little slice of paradise in Georgetown that is a great way to spend a weekend day strolling and taking in nature and a beautiful planned formal garden.


  6. Thank you all, from Charity and me. And I'm sorry Christine. I hope your GF is doing OK. Giver her some love & support. It's good for everybody, y'know?

    1. Thanks Meg, it certainly is. She wasn't close to her step-mother, who married her dad after she had moved away. But she did say that her step-mom may have been the sanest of the bunch.

  7. Sorry about Charity's loss. I will remember her during prayers at church on Sunday. Glad to see you both are back, and I can't wait to continue to follow your adventures. Hugs to you both,


  8. Meg -

    Please give Charity my regards - there are no words for the grief she is experiencing, and I hope that the sharp pains end soon, and that they are replaced by the happy memories of her and her dad together.

    Regarding the recorded playing of Taps - One of my friends found a "starving student" at a local music school who played a live rendition of Taps. It put money into a pocket that needed it, as well as being a better tribute to my friend's father being buried in a military cemetery.

    I'm glad that you could be there for Charity when she needed you most - and that is the most important thing.....



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