Dropping everything to fly home for the funeral of a loved one is never easy. But grief and hard times aside, it’s often the perfect excuse for a family reunion.
You see, as much as I love my cousins, Rebecca and Andrew (twins) and John, and the twins’ spouses John R. and Kelly, due to logistical difficulties, we haven’t all been in the same place at once since Rebecca’s wedding in 2004 (and that was pre-Kelly days).
Also, distant cousins who we hadn’t seen in more than a decade made the trek to Tullahoma to pay their respects to my grandmother, which was just testament to what an amazing person she was and how many lives she touched.
And then there are my grandmother’s ever-hilarious brothers, Tom (88) and Jimmy (82), who used to dip her pigtails in the inkwells at the schoolhouse and chop off her luscious curly locks, much to the chagrin of her own mother.
The burial, visitation and service all took place in one day, which was ROUGH and tiring and many tears were shed, many times over. But surrounded by family members galore, we managed to power through it.
And even have some fun when 25 or so of us convened at my house after it was all over. Because there is one thing to be said about Southern hospitality: It never fails in times of need. The casseroles, pies and other baked goods are still coming out of the woodworks, and my parents’ palatial pad looks like a florist’s shop.
And a much-needed miracle in the face of such sadness. Once the lights went down, the beer tasting (from two true connoisseurs who spent all of the previous week driving from Tennessee to California, stopping only for brewery tours) commenced.
And even my grandfather had a smile on his face for much of the evening. Because that’s how she would have wanted it. All of her family gathered together again in one place, laughing about the old times.