Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Things I've never heard at a funeral...

My grandma died last Sunday... you know, the day when it was absolutely beautiful outside. It was the same day I wrote my last blog.

Now I know my family is different than others. We all live in different places of the state. But I can say I've never been to a funeral like my grandmother's.

My family (mom, dad, sister, brother-in-law, husband, and aunt) have fun when we get together. And because we were expecting my grandmother's death for quite a while (she, herself, was ready to go years ago), we didn't really have much grief over the loss. We actually laughed more than cried at the visitation and funeral.

But one thing stuck out in my mind as being quite odd. As my aunt, dad, and mother were standing at the receiving line, my sister and I (looking quite alike, with our curly hair pinned up) were sitting in the front row close by. A lady finished the receiving line and walked over to us. This was our brief, bewildering conversation.

Lady: Is your hair naturally curly?
Us: Yes.
Lady: Oh, how nice!
Us: Thank you.
Lady: It's so sexy and sensual!
Us: uhh......

That's something I've never heard at a funeral. A bit weird. But nice... I guess?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Thoughts on Death

Don't be deceived by the title of this post. It's not meant to be overly-morbid.

Today was absolutely beautiful outside. It was blue-sky-with-big-puffy-clouds-kinda-perfect. Those kind of days make you slow down and breathe a little deeper.

I found out my grandma is close to death today. Estimates of her living are anywhere between 2 to 3 hours or 2 days. Her eyes are glazing over, which I guess is the first sign death is near. She can still hear everything, but hearing is also the last thing to go.

I was never close to my grandma (or any grandparents, for that matter). But the news of her quickly-approaching death got me thinking about death in general. I sat outside for a couple of hours today; staying inside just seemed unappreciative to Mother Nature. As I looked up at the fluffy clouds and ocean blue sky, I hoped my grandmother would die on a day like today. That sounds really bad, but I mean it in the best way possible. I imagined her broken-down body lying in a nursing home, and that image just seemed so bleak. It made me happier to think of her spirit leaving her body and ascending into the marvelously perfect sky to rest with the marshmallow clouds.

Death, for the most part, is usually celebrated in shades of black and grey. But, I don't want my death that way. I don't want hymns at my funeral. I want jazz music. And I want to die on a day like today, as the big, puffy clouds await the company of my spirit. I could only the imagine the view from the clouds on a day like today.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Highs and Lows

Weekend update coming at you... high and low-style!

Lows (let's start with the bad first)
- At dinner on Friday, Randy and I get a call from Randy's mom telling us Randy's dad had complete kidney failure. He was rushed to a hospital in St. Louis. After an emergency surgery, he's stable and in good spirits. He'll still need another surgery once his kidney numbers get lower.

- Because of Randy's dad, we had to cancel the Saturday home visit and adoption of Banjo, our 3rd foster pug. 

- This is my last weekend before starting my career. Kinda sad, but kinda ready to start.

- Randy's dad is doing well. Better than expected, which is awesome considering he had zero kidney functioning just 2 days ago.

- We ended up having our new friends, Christine and Heston (yep... cool name), come over for wine and food. We had a great time and good conversation. She's laid-back, loves dogs, and enjoys live music and traveling. He's a cyclist (almost professional), from New Orleans and Manhattan, has a relative who owns a huge property in Jamaica (and invited us to go along with them for a visit), and an all-around cool dude. They're both liberal (amazing!), which is REALLY hard to find down here (see... we're not freaks). We're becoming fast friends, as they don't have any relatives or friends in the area and are up for anything fun. 

- My crostinis with basil, tomato, and garlic were a hit. But my pecan praline cookies were rock stars. It was all very good... wine and sangria included! 

- Sunday was adoption day for Banjo. I felt so bad for canceling on the family Saturday (they had 2 boys who were probably crushed), we made some time on Sunday to take care of it all. They came, signed the paperwork, and went home with a cute pooch. 

Overall... the highs totally outweigh the lows.    

Friday, August 14, 2009

New Job, New Friend

Ever since I moved to the opposite end of the state, away from my family and friends, I've learned a lot about myself and life in general. I've learned that my husband is my best friend and that I can be happy wherever we are when we are together. I've learned that not all couples are as close as Randy and I are, and not all of them have as much in common as we do. I also learned that Randy and I are a bit different from most couples down here. Different views. Different ideas. Different goals. 

I recently started my job at an elementary school, and I met someone who also started her first year. I knew I would like her... she was wearing a dress that I also owned with a cute cardigan sweater over it. Just my style. Her hairstyle looked very similar to how mine looked about a year ago. She seemed like a cool person to get to know. 

At orientation, we sat together and got to talking. She is originally from Wisconsin. Her longtime boyfriend is from New Orleans. They moved to Alton for her new job. They love dogs. They don't want children. They love checking out local places and love wine. He's a competitive cyclist and is almost finished with his master's in anthropology. They don't have any friends or family here but enjoy each other's company very much, so being far from home doesn't bother them much. They're not sure where they want to end up for good. 

Hm. Sounds a lot like us. So, we're having our first couple get-together this Saturday for a homemade wine tasting and hors d'oeuvres. Can't wait to have some good conversation with new people... new friends.  

Monday, August 10, 2009

Bittersweet Ending

Our third foster pug, Banjo, is being adopting this Saturday. We're taking a drive to Lake St. Louis to hand him over to his new family. Good thing that it's a 1+ hour drive... plenty of cuddling and goodbye time.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Life Lessons

This weekend my parents paid Randy and me a visit to celebrate my birthday... one month early. After looking at our calendar, it turns out there was no better weekend between now and my birthday to celebrate, so Mom and Dad made the trek to Alton. And because it seemed silly for me to open presents a month before my actual birthday, Mom decided to take me shopping for professional clothes to start my career. 

We head to JCPenny, one of the only good stores in the area. JCPenny is having a lot of great sales, which excites both my mom and myself. So, we begin to comb through the racks and start adding to a pile of "try-on" clothes. We soon make our way to the dressing room. 

I begin trying on cute dresses and could be dressed up or down for school purposes. The first two that I try on are perfect. Fit nicely. Look professional, yet stylish. Nice! Mom tells me she'll take the ones I want and hang them on the outside of the dressing room door, so I don't get them mixed up with the clothes I don't want or haven't tried on yet. Seems like a good plan... teamwork can be efficient. Except when I need a different size. 

Mom heads out to get me a different size, and I continue trying dresses on. We've done this before. Not a big deal. As I'm putting on the next item, I see a pair a lady's tennis shoes and jeans come close to my door. I figure she's just seeing if someone is in the dressing room; after all, it's busy from all the sales. After I finish dressing, I open the door to show Mom, who isn't back yet from retrieving another size. It's at this point I realize the two dresses Mom put on the outside of the door aren't there. Weird. Maybe Mom took them with her. I slip outside the dressing room and see my mom empty-handed. I go back to my room. Another lady is standing in near the dressing rooms. I nicely ask her, "Did you see anyone take two dresses that were hanging on my door?" The lady tells me she didn't see anyone come out of the dressing room. Hm. Things are getting weird. 

Mom comes back to my room, and I tell her that someone took my dresses. She's flabbergasted. I told her I saw two white tennis shoes and jeans. Mom goes on a hunt around the department to see if someone has the two dresses. She comes back defeated. No one had them. 

Just then, a mother comes out of her daughter's dressing room one door down from mine. Mom gets a glimpse of the daughter's pile of try-on clothes. One of my dresses is there. Mom nicely confronts the lady by asking if she had taken some dresses off of my dressing room door. The lady quickly retreats back into her daughter's dressing room and mumbles that her daughter is undressed. Now, we hear mumbles. Lots of whispering. For about 5 minutes. We are waiting it out. I have all day.

After what seems like forever, the mother and daughter duo (along with the mother's much younger daughter... I'd say she was about 6 years-old) come out. The daughter slips behind her mother with a clump of clothes. The mother stops and looks at me. I ask her if I could see her pile of clumped up clothes. I can see she has one of the dresses I had. She lets me look through the pile, telling me that she found it on the rack. She could be right... except she wasn't. I found the dresses on the clearance rack, which was extremely limited in sizes. There was not another size of those dresses. I don't see my favorite one of the two dresses, so I let her pass. Again she insists she didn't have them. I tell her I saw her white tennis shoes and jeans. She brushes me off and leaves.

I don't let things go easily. Especially when I know I'm right. So, I tell Mom to watch them check out to make sure they don't have the one dress I didn't see in their crumpled pile of clothes to buy. The mother and daughter notice Mom, so they split up. Mom notices the daughter coming back from the clearance rack. And then, she sees the one dress I really wanted hanging from the clearance rack again. It was the only dress like it. And it was back on the rack. The daughter had slipped behind her mom, so she could put it back on the rack. 

At this time, I'm furious and worked-up. This lady has been completely rude to my mother, and she has her daughter in on the scheme. They continue to check out, and I finish up in the dressing room... with my favorite dress retrieved from the rack again and a size bigger of the second dress I had liked (since the stupid lady had taken mine to buy). 

I'm willing to take some of the blame. We shouldn't have put the dresses I wanted on the outside of the door. But that's where the blame ends on my end. I'm sure the mother probably thought those dresses were discarded and up for grabs. But she shouldn't have assumed so, especially when someone was still in the dressing room. Plus, the return rack was 4 feet from my door. The dresses were not on the return rack. She can't just assume. 

It's one thing to make a mistake, but it's how one recovers from that mistake that counts. She made a simple mistake of assuming the dresses were up for grabs. Fine. If she would have told me the truth that she had innocently taken them thinking that they were not wanted and that she was sorry, I would have been grateful for her honesty and taken the dresses back. No big deal. I'm sure it was embarrassing for her, but I'm very forgiving when the truth is told. It's the lying ... her blatant lying that boiled my blood. I saw her exact shoes. Mom saw one of the dresses in the fitting room. There was no way this lady had any case. That's what this mother is teaching her daughters. Lie. It's okay. Make the other people think that they are the wrong ones... that they are the crazy ones. Do anything you have to do to defend your lies. It's okay.

Except it's not okay. Life lessons are taught in these little moments. And this mother just taught her daughters that dishonesty and rudeness should be the course of action when they have made a mistake.