Friday, June 22, 2018

Time to Dance, Time to Mourn, Time to Dodge NYC Traffic

After my father's death, my siblings and I went to Philly to see my Mother and start the great excavation (my dad was a big-time hoarder) and then went to NYC for the funeral and the shiva.  I learned much along the way. 

First, much thanks to those who commented on my blog, tweeted at me, posted condolences on facebook or reached out in other ways.  We all complain much about social media, but there are lots of great people out there who help extend one's sense of community--I definitely did not feel alone at all this week.  I left the friendship, the love, and the concern, and I am very grateful for this extended community.  Thank you.

Second, I learned that my brother-in-law is sneaky funny.  At the funeral service, when I stepped up to say a few words, most of the folks were on alert, worried that I might spend much time on the difficult parts of my relationship with my dad.  I did not.  My brother-in-law?  Oh my, he focused on Reuben's Rules (my Dad's name was misspelled in the paper of record, the one he obviously collected no matter where he was!) which was a semi-roast in a very loving, humorous way.  I wish I could have written them all down--having violated many of them many times except the first one--don't be late.  I got my impatience from my father.

Third, I learned about driving in Brooklyn.  Lots of double parking, lots of left turn lines, so driving was much like skiing down a slalom--left, right, left, right.  Fun for me, not so much fun for Mrs. Spew. 

Fourth, I was much more attentive to the surroundings at this burial than at my uncle's.  My dad and uncle are buried next to each other in a larger family plot, and I know better now some of the ancestors and their history better.

Fifth, I am lousy at remembering rules, and shiva is full of them.  Shiva is the Jewish mourning period that goes for seven days after the burial (I think).  We stuck around for only a few since I have a big trip tomorrow.  One is supposed to sit uncomfortably for hours as folks come by to wish their condolences.  We aren't supposed to listen to music (some of the next generation played my aunt's big piano before we were told--as a primary mourner, I am not supposed to listen to music for a year).  The real key is lots of food. Booze is ok but not as central as it is to a wake, I guess.  Because my father outlived most of his friends and relatives and had lived outside of New York since, um, 1971 or so, we didn't get too many folks.  Which meant it was mostly an intra-Saideman affair.  My daughter flew back from the west coast as did one niece, and we had much of the next generation--my siblings' kids and some of my cousins' kids.  Stories were told, we did what Saidemans do--talk a lot. My mother was her usual stoic self.  What awaits her now?  Digging through my dad's hoarding.  We did some of that in our short time in Philly, and two of my siblings did some of that in my dad's last few days as he finally relented. 

As I said in my comments at the funeral, my father went out on his terms--he still had all of his mental ability and memory, he waited to die until after he could attend two more grandchild graduations and after another family event.  He got to say goodbye to almost everyone.  Given his love of travel (he retired early so he could hit all seven continents), I am sure he would be glad I am venturing off to Chile for the next stage of my current project.  So, I post this with a smattering of pics I could find on my computer, which is also appropriate as he was an obsessive photographer of family events.

An old picture that was posted by boy in the middle of an old
vacation with the family of my father's closest friends.
Gotta love early 1970s clothing.  Aside from my father,
my family is in the middle and on the right

During our Hawaii trip, my folks were called up at the luau
as the longest married folks.  They made it past 60 years
My father with my nephew--the last of our name on our side.

High school graduation with my daughter and my parents--
not getting a similar pic after her college graduation was an epic fail.

Tea time at the summer vacation in Quebec a couple of years ago
with my father, mother, aforementioned brother-in-law
and the most responsible sister who is the family's
collective action sucker for whom I am most grateful
(sucks to to be the oldest, great to be the youngest)

Cape Cod vacation: the nuclear family.

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