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Arizona Part II

We arrived in Kingman a little after midnight, which technically meant that it was early Friday morning. At this point, I'd essentially been trapped in a seat of some sort for the better part of thirteen hours, and I was more than a little ready to no longer be sitting or conscious. My youngest cousin was awake to greet us. Katie is a wonderful human, and her ornery streak has long kept her my mother's favorite. Katie is the youngest daughter of my dad's sister Leslie, who was gracious enough to host the east coast contingent.

For your frame of reference, Leslie is the only surviving member of my father's immediate family, and she has one surviving aunt and cousin outside of that. At some point, she was rightfully and wholly adopted by my mother's family, which (before this rotten February) consisted of nine total siblings and their ten children. Despite that there is no actual blood between her and any of them, save my brother and I, she kept four of the siblings and me at her awesome house.

And her house is awesome. It's spacious and beautiful with a big backyard that boasts a kick-ass patio. In the morning, you can sit back there and watch the sunrise over the Hualapais, and you can understand why some people never feel the need to leave the desert. It's an incredibly beautiful part of the world.

Friday was a busy day. After sleeping poorly, I woke early and accompanied my mother on errands in Kingman. We were hosting dinner at Leslie's house that night. This meant we needed to feed about 25 people. While out, we saw all sorts of things that you only ever see in places like Kingman. My favorite of the morning was a group of very well turned-out old cowboys (western shirts, nice boots, clean hats, and suit jackets) congregating at the McDonalds inside the Wal-Mart for breakfast.

We spent the whole day making food, and then people started to arrive. The eight remaining siblings and eight of the nine remaining cousins were all there, some with wives and children in tow. It was interesting to see everyone. I've not seen most of my cousins since my grandfather died eight years ago. There was plenty of beer in the cooler, and enough potluck food to up the cholesterol count significantly for all parties involved. I was relieved that the salad and green beans were not the most popular items of the evening, and ate a lot of both. I had eaten my fill of awful food for the day in my lunchtime binge at In-N-Out burger (a California Institution that has crept out to Kingman). Oh god, how I miss In-N-Out. It tastes like many of the best parts of my childhood.

Some of us spent time on Friday playing Rock Band, which was also a hoot. Leslie is a fanatic for the drums, and my cousin Katie is one hell of a Guitar Hero. It was fun to watch her go. We also played a little ping-pong, and I got to know my cousin Joel's son Joely, who is about as cute as a little kid can get. A sweet, happy little boy, not unlike my nephews.

I can't say much about Saturday before that evening. The service for my aunt was in the morning. I was on guestbook duty, so I stood at the door for a long while as an endless parade of my distant cousins and Kingman natives signed in and sat down. The service was good, despite that the Pastor was a total douchebag. There is nothing that tweaks me more at events like that than a man who tries to talk about a person who doesn't know and never met, like he knows her. Like he could possibly know anything about her. He also told us that the only thing we could do to lead fulfilled lives was to place them in God's hands. I find that so presumptuous and arrogant. My mom said nobody is allowed to talk at her funeral. I asked her to put that in writing...

Joel, my aunt's son, spoke. He did a very good job, and had people laughing as he described his mother before she fell ill about ten years ago. My uncle Keith, the youngest of all the siblings, delivered the eulogy. It has become his duty; he has the mixed blessing of being a great public speaker, so when we gather to say goodbye, he always is the one to speak for all of us. I remember he spoke at my father's service, and I remember laughing then, too.

The highlight of the afternoon was meeting my father's favorite teacher from high school. He was a fascinating man, and didn't feel like Kingman at all (which I suspect is what my father loved so much about him). He builds things, like planes. He travels. He taught English until he retired. He and his wife both had a very easy laugh, and it was evident how much they loved my dad and my mom. It was nice to see that; like getting a tiny piece of my dad back for a minute. These things don't instantly make me weep, anymore. Just happy and wistful.

People gathered at Leslie's on Saturday night, too. I had talked to my cousin Richard at the service, and we had agreed that we wanted to hang out away from the huge group later that night. That was completely interesting, and must be a story for another time. I need to go to the store, and then get back to work.

My travel hangover has finally started to subside. I am hoping the rest of the day can be every inch as productive as I desperately need it to be.


( 4 best shots — Fire Away! )
Mar. 3rd, 2009 11:10 pm (UTC)
My mom said nobody is allowed to talk at her funeral. I asked her to put that in writing...
MY mom says she doesn't want a funeral. At all. My grandmother said the same thing: "Open the coffin, check to make sure it's me, close the coffin, and cremate me."
Mar. 4th, 2009 06:00 pm (UTC)
Was your uncle Keith the one who informed everyone that your dad was not, in fact, residing in the Starship Enterprise? I remember laughing about that at your dad's service.

Glad that you could make some happy memories during a sad time.
Mar. 5th, 2009 03:01 am (UTC)
Yep. That was indeed Keith.

"A quick announcement. This is the Enterprise. This is not Jim."

Sadly, there were no model ship confusion incidents at Lora's service, but there was laughter to be found for the willing. One thing I really love about my family is that we really do tend to laugh during the really awful stuff.
Mar. 4th, 2009 08:54 pm (UTC)
In-N-Out is delicious!
( 4 best shots — Fire Away! )


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