Saturday, October 21, 2017

A Really Odd Day

Yesterday was a strange day.

School was fine, everything was pretty low-key and normal there (versus Thursday, where there was drama galore).

I received a text from my father that my grandfather, my Papaw, had passed away in the afternoon. He'd gone into hospice on his birthday (Wednesday) after a battle with Alzheimer's. Which is a nasty, nasty disease. I knew this news was coming soon, but it was REALLY soon. It was a conflicted sort of feeling -- he was released from his pain and shell-like state as Alzheimer's had robbed him of so much of himself, but we lost him.

I beat myself up hard for not going to my grandmother's 80th birthday party in August, which we'd bowed out of because it was a) in Kentucky and b) we'd just gotten back from our California trip the weekend before, so to hop back on a plane or drive 10ish hours seemed daunting, and c) I really needed to get ready for the new school year which was just 2 1/2 weeks away. So I didn't go. But that would have been my last chance to see my grandfather, and everyone who traveled for it had that moment with him. A lot of my family on my dad's side lives pretty close -- within an hour, maybe three at the most -- so they could get together more often. I haven't been out that way since 2010, when we had a family reunion and Bryce and I could come.

I remember his voice on the phone the most, when he was still able to be conversant. He loved listening to baseball games on the radio and was a terrific cook. He had a great sense of humor and when I was little loved to terrify me and my cousins by popping out his partial dentures. I learned to scale a fish from him (I don't enjoy fishing, but there was something compulsive and satisfying about stripping the scales from a fresh-caught fish with the scaling knife and seeing them fly... not unlike peeling chickpeas, although less humane). He was funny and loved all the grandchildren (and many great-grandchildren) and I am so, so sorry that I missed a chance to see him before he left us.

                                                *           *            *

After finding my principal and giving him a heads up that I'll need to be out for a funeral sometime in the near future, I came home early (well, for me). I was pretty sad and I wanted to help Bryce with the new dining room table that arrived that day. It is gorgeous, and it is so neat to have a "grown up" table set. The one we had before was counter-height and from Target, bought when I thought I might live in an apartment by myself for a little while (but instead lived at my parents' house before they moved there full-time and then just moved in with Bryce since I was basically living there anyway). This one we bought at a local craft festival in August, and it was hand-crafted in Pennsylvania to order and then delivered yesterday. I wanted to share my table but it seemed somehow in poor taste, while everyone was writing poignant posts about the loss of my grandfather, to be like, "LOOK! We got a purty new table!" Here it is though, because it is quite purty:

It has four leaves -- two 6" and two 12" -- and so it extends out to a ridiculously long length. Which is nice in case we host a holiday again in the future. No more foldable buffet table (unless we use that for the food, ha).

We also had plans to go to this reenactment of a 19th century seance, at the very spoooooky community recreation center. Bryce wondered if that was best given the day, but I was like, "This is our anniversary month, and we pick out weird things to do, and I am not missing the seance." It was a little weird to leave school and tell a coworker that my grandfather had just passed, and that I was going to a seance, but those two things were unrelated. I really wonder if there's something wrong with me sometimes.

The seance was AWESOME, because it was done completely in the dark by only the glow of the (battery-operated) candles. When we first walked in it was sketchy -- there were room dividers covered in black plastic tablecloths and it looked a bit like a party room in a nursing home, but once they turned out the lights it was great. The people came in dressed in clothes of the mid-1800s and it showed how they would do the bells ringing and the table thumping and all kinds of wacky stuff. It was advertised as "Not appropriate for children 12 and under" so we were like, "YES! It's going to be something without little kids everywhere!" Not that we don't love little kids, but sometimes Halloween can be challenging what with all the babies photographed in pumpkins and little trick-or-treaters we'll never have of our own and all that. Well, the seance was definitely kid-free, but it was also people-free...we were the only ones at the 6:00 show (they did it every half hour). But outside the room? BABY AND PREGNANT PEOPLE CENTRAL. Apparently it was the same night as the Halloween Festival, with a costume contest, hayrides, indoor trick-or-treating, photobooths, and young families galore. So that held a certain sort of irony.

We went from the seance (and the sea of bellies and tiny butterflies, lego people, elephants, and pumpkins) to our favorite Mexican restaurant. We ran into a bunch of people we knew, and then sat down to eat our delicious food and margaritas, while having a very intense conversation about health proxies, wills, and living wills. Very, very cheery.

But, while talking to a friend we ran into about the seance, this table across from us of older ladies perked up and one said, "I hear you have an interest in the spiritual!"

It turns out they were all here for a spiritual fair at the local Shriner's center, which is going on today and tomorrow, and they were palmists, people who can talk to your "spirit guides," and essential oils purveyors (that one confused me a bit). We must have looked skeptical because the palmist offered a short free reading for each of us, if we would tell our friends and stop by the fair. And so in one day my grandfather passed away, we received a new table, we went to a seance, and we got our palms read over dinner.

Some of it was accurate, and some was questionable, but that's how that goes, right? I'm always interested in that sort of thing but don't put a ton of stock in it. There was no gobbledegook about children though, which I appreciated. It was more about our personalities and what we do for a living, which was accurate as hell (but Bryce very cynically said she could have listened in on our conversations to get that information, too, in a general sense -- but why would someone go to dinner with their friends just to listen in on everyone else on the odd chance that they might read a palm or two?). I will say I'm intrigued. I've had my tarot cards read before, and had a psychic reading once that was eerily accurate on things far in the future. Maybe I'll stop in if I can find someone else willing to spend money on what could very well be hooey.

We went home after sharing a plate of fried plantains and crema (okay, I had most of them and Bryce had two), and watched a stupid movie from the 80s (High Spirits) and then fell asleep hard.

A strange day, no?

My Papaw, a long, long time ago.


  1. I am really sorry for the loss of your Papaw. I have a similar sort of regret regarding the deaths of both my grandmothers, so I definitely feel you on that one. It sucks.
    If there is something wrong with you, then there is something wrong with me, too. The tag line my friends always gave me was "Charlotte isn't normal" because of the weirdo randomness that is me. So good company, I say.
    Your day was definitely odd. I have really bizarre days all the time like I throw some strange vibes out into the universe, I swear!
    I have dining room table envy now. That table is just gorgeous!!

  2. First off, I’m so sorry for your loss. I know you are beating yourself up for not seeing him one last time, but I’m a firm believer that those we love never truly leave us. Thinking of you during this time.

    As far as the seance and the palmist, I think it’s actually fitting the timing! Seances have traditionally been used as a way to communicate with loved ones who have passed. So who knows....

    And the table is lovely!

  3. Sorry to hear about the loss of your Pawpaw. He sounds like a very fun and special person. It’s always hard to lose those people who were an integral part of one’s past: for me it is a reminder that the past is truly irretrievable, and there’s something about losing someone who remembers you as you once were that lonely. Thinking of you as you sort through all the feelings and memories. As for the seance and palm reading.....well I quite admire you for just going with the moment. I believe sometimes it’s good to embrace the mysterious and absurd. It’s not necessary to always do what we think is sensible and rational.

  4. Totally a strange day. I'm so sorry about your grandpa. I do love that table. And the seance sounds really interesting! And you can't go wrong with Mexican food!

  5. Condolences on the loss of your Papaw. I can see him in you.

    I do love the table. Wow! When we last looked for the right dining room table, it was hard to find the right one. Looks like you got yours.

    Cool on the seance and palm reading. That stuff intrigues me, too.

  6. I'm sorry for the loss of your grandfather. Alzheimers sounds like a horrible illness. Sadly there are always regrets after a person is gone of missed opportunities.

  7. I'm sorry for the loss of your grandfather. It's hard to lose loved ones and not have that last moment, as it were. Sending thoughts.

    The table is beautiful - it really fits the space.

  8. I'm so sorry about your grandfather. I adored my grandfather, and I still miss him, almost 20 years later. Even when we know they're not going to be around much longer, it's never easy when the time to say goodbye arrives.

    But on a happier note, I LOVE your new table!!

  9. So sorry to hear about your grandfather. It's great that you have some good memories with him when he was feeling better.

    Love your new table!

  10. This post really resonated with me. It makes perfect sense to me that this day held all these unusual events. Like life itself.