Thursday, October 15, 2015


It’s another glorious fall day in my world – brilliant blue sky, unseasonably warm for October – nearly 80 degrees.  Last weekend and this entire week has been  equally as beautiful, but I hardly remember last weekend when I try to reflect on all the events.  We buried my brother Saturday.  Just as when we buried my grandfather in that same cemetery several summers ago, the sky could not have been anymore blue.  The most memorable difference was that the day we buried my grandfather, it was beastly hot (in July). Saturday was mercifully cool – around 70. 

View from my office

We expected 12 people or so in total for the memorial service.  It was to be very informal and thrown together…well, that part came true as planned.  Just a few hours before the service, I printed off a short prayer to open with and the 23rd Psalm because what else is there for funerals?  My mother wanted to sing a hymn – Be Still My Soul; Emily was going to play piano, and Sarah was going to sing and play viola with Emily for one song.  I wrote up some brief notes to remind me what to say about my brother’s life…in hopes that if I invited others to say something about him, somebody would.

As it turned out, we had a good 30-35 people who showed up.  Many of his friends stood up to speak about him.  The music was lovely.  I was hoping we could stretch it out to 20 minutes long; but I think from the time we started until we left the church, it was well over an hour.  I had no idea my brother had so many friends who cared enough to come.  Afterwards, family drove to the cemetery and buried the ashes between the graves of our grandparents.  Before we left, I planted crocus bulbs around the headstones of my grandparents, great-grandparents, and my favorite great aunt.

The oddest thing about the weekend for me, besides carrying my brother around in a heavy little wooden box, was seeing my parents together in the same room for the third time that I can remember.  Once when I was young (maybe 5 or 6 years old), their visits overlapped by a few hours.  Neither visited often, so to have an overlap was a rare (indeed, one-time) event.  Both attended my doctoral graduation, and now this – my brother’s (their first son’s) funeral.  After the cemetery, we all went out to dinner together.  It was notable to see both sitting at the same table for dinner – just as we did for my graduation.  I remembered that the last time I ever had dinner with Richard was also the last time my mother had dinner with him, and how the last time I had dinner with Mike, it was in this restaurant where we were all sitting together like one big family.     

That is how the whole weekend went.  My mind was slipping forwards and backwards in time, and as I reflect now on the weekend, it’s like I wasn’t even there.  I drove my mother back to the airport Sunday.  Her flights were horrible – 6 hours delayed coming in on Friday night, and a 6-hour delay going home.  It was a direct flight for a trip that she could have driven in six hours.  Driving home from the airport, I saw this giant deer in the back of a pickup truck.  Taxidermy is popular around here because so many people hunt, but who wants this standing in their home?  Not me.  Thank heavens we don’t stuff people to preserve them. 

poor deer

My mind is not on work lately.  Obviously not on work…I’m writing a blog post when I should be analyzing data for discrepancies, among other things.  I’m traveling back to Louisiana next week.  My thoughts were to decline the meeting notice, but I will go.  Two hops down, two hops back, but an all-day ordeal each way with the driving added to it.  Planes are never on-time these days.    

If I could have tomorrow to live as I want to, I’d take my kayak to Grayson Lake and paddle far away from anything that sounds or looks like civilization.  Perhaps if I went far enough, the world would seem right again.     

the right way?


Bruce Johnson said...

"I’m writing a blog post when I should be analyzing data for discrepancies, among other things."....before I retired, this is just about all I did.

KYLady said...

Once committed to a definite retirement date, how does a person stay focused on work? It’s getting much harder for me, and I don’t even have a specific date yet. I attended another big project team meeting this past week, resulting in 34 action items assigned to me. Each task will require 4 to 60 hours, all to somehow be completed by February 1 (of course along with all the other project work and due dates that are in process just now). I sat through the meeting, taking notes diligently, all the while thinking none of it will matter if I leave at the end of the year…and doesn’t this ridiculous workload make leaving all the more attractive!

Bruce Johnson said...

Thanks for wisking me back to my last job. 8 hours of meetings per week made for a very stressful life. There comes a time in everyone's employment when you have to start managing your retirement, because your employer won't. The last year I was employed I learned to keep my mouth shut in meetings, don't offer suggestions or ideas, they always turn into more work for you. Take a lot of notes about what you are working on so that the person that inherits your load will have some clue what is going on. They won't read it, but you will feel better knowing you did the best you could. You won't get all your action items done by the end of your work life so, management has to know what. But you might need to remind them to give them a heads up that they are risking delays after your departure. Again, probably won't make any difference, but you will feel better about trying not to leave a mess.

KYLady said...

I like that idea – “managing my retirement”. Quite honestly, my company does not value knowledge. I’ve seen too many employees walk out after 40 years of service, and the first time they meet their successor is the day before. I expect my departure will be no different. My workload will go to a contractor or a new hire, somebody I don’t know. My backlog is well over 40 months…it’s not like there will ever be catching up before my last day.