Wednesday, January 21, 2009

My brother and I listened to Obama's inauguration address on the radio of a Mazda 3 in the hills of West Virginia. We were on our way back from our great aunt's memorial service that we had left for on Sunday morning. An eleven hour car ride from New York, we passed the time on our way there playing silly road games and a long discussion that hinged on the assertion that in reading our brain pays attention to every letter in a word and processes it subconsciously while our conscious mind handles the meaning making portion of reading. Regardless, we got to our uncle's around eight, sister and husband and baby and dogs got in from D.C. at nine. The next morning along with cousins and cousin's children, we set aunt Jean's coffin on a wooden palette and the grave diggers did the rest. Aunt Jean didn't want any services and her wishes were respected.

She was the youngest of three sisters, my father's mother the middle sister, and all three were buried next to each other. She was the grandparent that would come with us to Dollywood, take us to the pool, and in general, make efforts to meet us kids wherever we were at; probably our only grandparent to do this, the fun one. She was also incredibly stubborn and had a reputation for constant criticism spilling out of her mouth, quick to tell you that your haircut is terrible and that your hand writing sucks. Just as quick to love, a squeeze or to give some sugar (her word for a kiss), this honesty, if that is what we call it, was also what made her endearing and there was no doubt how much she loved her sister's children, and their children (us).

After a pizza wake we all went over to her house and began the process of figuring out what to do with her stuff. My sister claimed some light fixtures, I got some end tables and some pans, my brother took with him an eight pack of twelve ounce bottles of Coke, cousin David joking/asking if he could drink my brother's inheritance. I found in an old box of jewelry, the names of my grandmother's children, my brother sister and I and our two cousins, etched on bracelet and a locket containing an old picture of aunt Jean and grandmother Anderson, what looked like a high school picture of them both, fresh faced and smiling in the sun. I sat down thinking that I would write about Obama's speech, reacting to the silliness of pundits talking for six hours about a twenty minute speech, instantly analyzing what might be better left to simmer, but never mind about that. My brother and I made it back to New York last night, and I leave for home (is where one starts from, T.S. Eliot) tomorrow.