As a warning… this is an emotional story that may be uncomfortable to you.
There’s no violence or anything, but it’s a bit overwhelmingly sad.
You may want to consider skipping it.
For further reasoning on why…
While I was in college several states away, my dad had been in the hospital with some liver problems.
Then a couple of years later, he fell in a work accident and broke his hip. He was 46 at the time.. not elderly that this would have been a bit more expected.
They put a pin in his hip, and things seemed to heal and be fine for a while. He was cleared completely to go back to work, and the work comp case closed.
Only after a while, things weren’t ok. It turned out that they’d put in a pin that was too long, it had made things rub wrong, worn down the tissues, and he needed his hip replaced.
This was right around the time Boo was about to be born, so a lot of the details aren’t as clear in my memory anymore, but there were a lot of complications to this… infections and such, so that they ended up going in a couple times that they couldn’t do what they’d planned to do, and eventually needing a temporary hip replacement before they could do the final one.
So there were many surgeries within about 2 years.
This was to be, hopefully, the last one… the one that was the final replacement hip.
Given that Boo was 14 months old at the time, and that my dad and I weren’t that close, and that this had pretty much become routine, I wasn’t at the hospital.
I got a call from my mom around 8 that night, telling me that my brother had called and said the surgery had gone ok, but that he wasn’t recovering well.
I was going to go up there, but got sternly told not to go up there and expose Boo to all those germs and that would be stupid and all of that sort of thing. That I could wait and take her over to mom’s and go in the morning.
He died not much later.
Long enough I could have easily made it up there if I’d gone anyway, but it would have been for less than an hour.
They think with the pre-existing liver problems, his body just couldn’t deal with yet another round of recovering from being cut open, and so one by one each of his systems failed.
I was told by phone, about 3 hours after he died.
(I lived a mile and a half from the hospital, and 3 miles from mom’s house.)
I found it interesting a few years later when my mom completely went off about how deaths should never be told to family over the phone, and that someone else was cruel for not making sure a person had someone to stay with them after being told a relative had died.
Guess it just didn’t apply to me.
So, the man that I’d dated for about 6 months until about 4 months prior, and was now friends with, offered to watch Boo for me for the funeral.
Boo had some health issues, and was on several meds and sometimes needed a nebulizer, in addition to just being a very cranky baby, so she couldn’t be left with just any sitter, but this man was awesome with her and knew how to care for her, Boo was familiar with him and really liked him, and honestly, he was the person I would trust most with her, even including my mother.
So I was very grateful… and considered that to be the perfect arrangement.
My mother was not so happy.
She felt that as my dad’s only grandchild, she needed to be there… that the relatives coming in would want to meet her and some of them might not be coming to the reception.
She insisted that Boo be there… assured me that she would hold her and keep her occupied. I caved in the name of making peace.
So Boo came…. in spite of my worries about her being fussy, given that she wasn’t generally a happy baby.
Mom sat with the family, even though they’d been divorced for 12 years at this point which was longer than they’d been married, he’d had two other since as well his first wife, the mother of my older brother who did not sit with the family and mom was married again… in the name of being there to comfort my younger brother… who is in his 20’s and a generally non-emotional person.
Her camcorder was also set up at the end of that first row to record the service.
So she and Boo are about in the middle of the row… a good 6 feet from the camera.
And all is well for the first bit… until the second song.
Now, my family had picked mostly non-traditional music. If I remember right, this particular song was Pink Floyd.
Boo didn’t start fussing… as expected… she was standing on my mom’s lap and bouncing to dance with the music… and had made a couple of happy squeals.
People weren’t bothered that I saw, they were smiling.
Even so, I got handed Boo and told to take her out…. the reason being that the camera was going to pick up her making noises.
Remember that assurance that she would be taking care of her? Yeah… about that…
Nope. I got told to leave my own father’s funeral, because my child, which I’d already made arrangements to not have be there, was making noises that were going to be able to be heard on the video of the man’s wife from 14 years earlier.
Do you want to know how many times I have seen anyone at all watch that all important video in the years since then? That precious video that was more important than my being at my father’s funeral and that could not be marred by happy background noises of the deceased only grandchild during the music? Zero.
I wonder what my mother would have done if anyone had told her to leave the funerals of either of her parents. My guess would be that she would have told them exactly where she could go.
I wonder what she would have done had anyone told my brother to leave.
But there was nothing I could do that wasn’t going to cause war, and so I took her out.
My younger brother’s response afterwards was that I shouldn’t have brought her…. even knowing the situation of why I had agreed. They both consider the response justified.
The lobby doors were closed. I couldn’t hear or see anything.
So I decided after a while to leave. There was no reason in my staying just for Boo to be a prop for the distant relatives for my mother to show off afterwards. There was no benefit to me emotionally from sitting around by myself in a mortuary lobby.
I was buckling her into the car seat when one of my aunts came out and offered to take her.
So I did at least get to go back in, leaving her with someone she knew much less than my prior arrangements and someone who didn’t know how to deal with any medical issues that might have come up.
And so since it was in progress as I came back in, I was directed by someone official to sit in an empty area… further back… by myself… away from the family for the service and as since they released by pews and assumed all of the family to be in the family area, for all of the stuff afterwards.
That is how very much a part of my family I am, how much my feelings or well being count.
Less than the sound quality on a video for their own emotional watching later that will never be watched.
Yes, I know, it was an emotional time… they were thrown off emotionally too.. they weren’t making decisions with anyone else in mind… she may have expected to be less emotional and more able to take care of Boo if she fussed.
But, that’s sort of the point. I don’t count. I’m not under consideration. My brother would have been, his emotions were considered from the start.
But not me.
When push comes to shove, I’m shoved… by those who are supposed to be the least likely to do so.
At my father’s funeral, I sat with my true family.
I saw with those who truly had my back through whatever comes.
My own self, and God.
You can tell me I’m not alone… that they care… that they’d be there for me.
It doesn’t convince me enough to overcome experience that says very clearly otherwise.