Sunday, October 2, 2011

looking for jim

Well B&B fans, it seems Kristina's madcap travel adventures were not quite completed for 2011.   Currently I'm sitting in a swanky new Hilton Garden Inn in the fab suburb of Maple Grove MN.  My Uncle Jerry passed away on the 20th from Alzheimer's and so the bulk of the remaining Wolff clan gathered together these past few days to bid our farewell, reminisce, reconnect a wee bit and set aside short and long standing feuds and grudges.

The last three days have involved a trip to Boston which included an evening watching three lovely ladies get fancy new hairdoos at Che Itzak & Ned's, two semi-bumpy airplane rides to exotic places like Milwaukee, many restaurant meals and blowing out the lights in my first hotel room (turned out to be a busted computer cord after all and the hotel maintenance guy gave it a big tug to prove it was busted - ahem).  It's been harder to find a replacement cord than I expected but I'm working on it and the hotel has provided one for me for now.  

The ceremony for Jerry was short, small and sweet - complete with a thoughtful video with many pictures to tug at one's hearts and induce appropriate levels of happy thoughts and sadness.  After we (yes, once again - partially due to birth order - I was chosen to be a pall bearer) loaded Jerry into the hearse we had the appropriate roll/ham sandwich with church coffee snack and headed out to Ft. Snelling cemetery for Jerry's final trip.  Erika and I played some pretty great sad songs on the way but at one point she didn't switch the ipods quickly enough (we were sharing them) and a more dance-y song came on.  As Jerry liked to have a good time, we figured it was appropriate to enjoy the music.  My cousin Kelly didn't quite see the dance moves at that time but did see us boogieing another time and said it made her think of this: 

Yeah that's right, I've been driving around the suburbs in a Kia Soul (not by choice) - at least it's a pretty dark grey blue.

There are many awkward, tense and funny moments that have happened the last few days and as you may guess, quite a number of amazing quotes - many of which were fueled by multiple adult beverages but to capture the family a bit, I thought I'd mention one of the more memorable instances.

We were gathered at my Aunt Jean and Uncle Craig's house for dinner and as I was walking back into the dining / family room I heard my aunts (Jean, Connie & Mary who are the sisters of Jerry,  Jim and my Dad), uncles, cousin's and a family friend talk about whether or not they wished to be cremated or buried.  I learned important family facts like that our grandparents now have a monument instead of simple flat headstones, which was mentioned because a couple aunts did a 'cemetery tour' today.  They then were debating whether or not it was ok to break with Wolff family tradition of burial and go for cremation - people were talking about where they wanted their ashes distributed and in the midst of this one person noted they wanted to be in a sarcophagus.  Suddenly my Aunt Jean burst out - "I need to find Jim; I need to see if he's here."

Yesterday Jim's kids were talking about how he made his presence known to them after he died via flickering lights and messing with their tvs (just trust me on this one).  So I thought my aunt was going to turn on the tv.  Nope, she jumped up and went over to the fireplace and started shaking things - then she pulled down a vase and looked inside - "Nope, he's not in here."  Then we realized, she was looking for his ashes (she doesn't have all of them) which are kept in a small velvet bag.  She thought 'he' needed to be on the table, to join us in the conversation.  Suddenly Craig (her husband) jumped up to help her look for him - they were roaming all over the house - talking about where Jim was:  "Maybe he's upstairs,"  "I think we put him over here in the kitchen," "Jim, Jim Jim.."  "Oh wait, did we stick him in the junk drawer?"  All the while we were laughing and of course offering suggestions and noting that 'Jim' really wasn't there.  While Craig was running all over the house looking for Jim, Jean was poking around near us and then would have to stop momentarily to explain where she thought he was, why he was moved and what her plans were for 'Jim'. Apparently he is on his way up to their cabin on this tiny lake because she wanted to "spread his ashes across the lawn."  We didn't ask why he wasn't going to be scattered / dumped into the lake.

Soon she gave up looking and we started to move onto another subject when suddenly - a velvet bag was dropped onto the middle of the table.  "JIM!!" Jean yelled, as her hubbo stood there proudly having helped out his wife.  "Where was he?" she asked, "upstairs in our bedroom.. in the top drawer in the dresser" said Craig.  "Oh yeah," Jean said, "that's where we keep our treasures."  I noted I thought it was a little creepy to keep him in their room especially since you didn't know what part you had - "what if it was his big toe and backside?".  This promptly got Jean and my Aunt Connie to simultaneously go into detail as to how cremation worked - as I tried to stop them, Craig also jumped in to clarify things.  Of course I was finally able to tell them that I knew how it worked and that I was joking.  For the rest of the evening we all hung out with 'Jim'.