Friday, September 19, 2008

And... they're off!

It's fall again and we're off to the races... new schedules, a new job for me, logistics of Thursday afternoon Hebrew School transportation to consider... but also a new era without Ben's aunt Priscilla, who died Sept. 12. I've been a tad busy since then at the funeral and getting back on track here, hence the silence. We left that afternoon with a rented minivan after I couldn't rustle up one to borrow from family or friends (everyone was away). In true Murphy's Law fashion, I had to get Ben to come to the rental place in Harvard Square because it turned out my driver's license had expired. Which I knew about months ago and sent in for a renewal to the DMV, which fucked up and sent me a duplicate instead with an expiration date about a week after it arrived in the mail of course. Stupid fuckwits. So we left late and hit traffic. We picked up G. and handled her repeated questions about where we were going, where the funeral would be, etc. It started to rain. The kids had to pee about every seven minutes, so I got to see the inside of every gas station rest room between Framingham, Mass., and Howell, N.J. Fun trip. Fortunately we had G. stay with Ben's brother while the four of us slept at his father's house, which is small but extremely tidy and restful. They even hired a sitter Saturday night so the four of us could go to a restaurant.

The funeral was of course very sad. It was a graveside service with a rabbi and a eulogy by Priscilla's son, though we missed the beginning because Ben's dad got slightly lost on the way to the cemetery, as he apparently never takes the same route twice to go to even the most familiar places. It was fiercely hot and it it no exaggeration to say that sweat mixed with tears on the faces of several in attendance. This is my second Jewish funeral, and the hardest part is always when they shovel the first shovelful of dirt onto the coffin (it's lowered by workers as the rabbi finishes his remarks). You never forget that hollow thud of dirt hitting the plain pine coffin (Jewish custom -- no embalming, burial ASAP, the simplest of coffins). Then everyone else takes turns shoveling. The first shovel is taken up and placed with the shovel upside-down, to symbolize the fact that this is not labor in the usual sense, but a mitzvah (good deed). In fact, as the rabbi explained, it's the ultimate mitzvah, because it's the only one you can do for someone for which you can have no expectation of being repaid (since the person is dead, of course).

The second emotional low point of the weekend, for Ben at least, was when his mother caught sight of her car at Ben's brother's house, where it's been kept off the road for the last year. He had put a tarp over it but she still recognized it, hauled of the top (folding it carefully) and actually fished her car keys out of her purse and tried to start it and drive away. Of course the battery was totally dead, so she was PISSED and let Ben have it. She just does not accept the fact that she cannot drive and is not going home with her car ("just to the grocery store and back!") and in fact is not going home at all. Ben's greatest fear is the day when he has to tell her that her house had been sold (it hasn't happened yet but it's on the market) because she has said on more than one occasion that that would kill her. Oy.

Soon I will write more cheerful things about my hilarious professor of Anatomy and Physiology II, but now I'll break my vow of silence about all thigns Sarah Palin to note this spot-on column by Maureen Dowd in which she made me laugh aloud at her prose for the first time ever.

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