Finding calm in the chaos

Finding calm in the chaos

Monday, October 03, 2011

remembering Papa

The week of Papa's death and funeral was a whirlwind. Being the only locally available, nonpregnant granddaughter, I wanted to help Grandma with the arrangements as much as possible. That, added to an extra busy work week for both Joe and me, and our usual level of chaos at our house, left me exhausted by the time Papa's vigil rolled around on Friday evening. Tired. Melancholy. Missing my Papa, which made me miss my Dad.

Andie and my cousin Laurel's daughter Tirzah.
Friday evening, family began to roll into town: our Montana cousins, relatives from Orofino, my Seattle-Mom Mercy, my best friend since high school Colette. There is something about funerals that drives family together. No one ever blows off a funeral the way one might blow off a family reunion ("We'll go next year when the kids are a little older") or a wedding ("I'll send a gift; it's just too far to drive"). Yes, these have been my excuses for the last 5 years when we lived in Idaho Falls. I'm not proud of it, but it's the truth. I've been far away from my Altmiller extended family for a long time and I was eager to see my great-aunts and uncles, cousins, and their children again.
Laurel's boys, Clayton & Ben, picnic with Sam
After the vigil, the family came over to our house for food. As with all funerals, friends brought food in huge quantities. Mom and Mercy manned the kitchen, washing dishes and managing the huge amount of food by making a rule that no one could leave until they had eaten. I'd thought that my children would make a brief appearance and then go to bed, as it was well past 9pm. All the Co-op Kids had other plans, though. They played with their newly met cousins, screaming and running in the backyard in the dark until their dads suckered them back inside with the promise of a movie.
Cassie, Heather, Jake, and Mercy
The funeral was held Saturday morning and even more friends and family came. The service was beautiful and peaceful and I was especially moved when a Marine presented the flag to my Grandma. The church prepared a funeral dinner for our whole crew and the next few hours were a flurry of eating, hugging family, catching up, and chasing kids.
Grandma with the Altender crew
A few more relatives came to visit after the dinner while our kids took turns napping, playing, etc.
We shared stories about Papa, ate, ate, and ate, and caught up on our lives. Several cousins mentioned that we should see more of each other and we shouldn't wait for funerals to bring us together. Man, I missed these guys.

Valley and Scott (Halloween Party at their house!)

So, we decided we're not going to wait for another funeral. One of my cousins in Coeur d'Alene decided to host a Halloween Party!

Grandma and Papa's cousin, Beth.

The dads: Kelley (Larenda's husband), Kevin, Joe

Mercy and Mom

Larenda holding Andie


Visiting with Grandma

Sam and Jasmine (Larenda's oldest)
Group picture!

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