I despise being woken up early. So when I was woken at 7am by my mum for a funeral that started at 10am I wasn’t happy, I wake up at the most 1.5 hours before I need to be somewhere. There is no need for me to be awake earlier. So I got an extra 15 minutes in before she began the old, school ritual of yelling “are you awake?” through my door. The panicky feeling began when I woke up, and it didn’t stop all day.
After slinking downstairs I sat in a chair and ate my bacon sandwich, that had been prepared for me. I then crawled back upstairs and pretended I was getting dressed, but really I crawled back into bed for 35 minutes until I really needed to get dressed.
I hadn’t really spoken all morning and neither had anyone else, there was a painful silence as we ate our bacon sandwiches. But I didn’t care, I am still offended, by the way my family ignores my comments or has to one up me so I didn’t really want to speak in all honesty, out of fear I would be told to shut up. As we got in the car and drove towards the crematorium we passed the hearse turning the corner. I looked at the coffin as it passed us and felt nothing. I felt I may be able to get through the funeral without crying, and that gave me hope.
When we arrived we stood in silence, others were there, people I didn’t know. So I didn’t speak, just had my younger brother, his girlfriend and my dad talk to me like an idiot “Have you turned your phone off?” Like I was going to leave it on loud and take phone calls during the ceremony.
No one had spoken for what seemed like an hour and then suddenly my dad said “They are here” I looked to the left of me and I could see the hearse pulling in, as it slowly pulled in front of us it was too much for me. I began to sob on cue and didn’t stop until the ceremony was over.
The ceremony was beautiful, the man who spoke said a lot of lovely words about my grandma and as I left I touched the coffin and said goodbye to my grandma for a final time. The we stood in the rain whilst people I had never met told me they were sorry and how lovely my grandma was. I didn’t know these people, I later found out they were my mums cousins.
After the funeral ended we had a party, well, not so much a party a “get together” to celebrate my grandmas life, we booked out a room in a local social club, we had a buffet of sausage rolls, sandwiches and quiche and we drank, a lot. Well, I didn’t I mostly drank coke until my family guilt tripped me into having two vodkas. Thankfully they didn’t notice my jumpy state, or the fact that I spent the whole time we were there shaking uncontrollably. Trying to pour a can of coke over my shot of vodka in a glass was a challenge.
I worried about this event because I thought I would be alone, I thought I would just be sitting there talking to no one and staring at my phone. I spoke to my cousin and my brother most of the time. The cousin I spoke to is more like a brother to me, to be honest. As a child we spent a lot of time together he and my other cousin would stay at our house every Saturday night. So it was nice to talk to him and his girlfriend and see their son who is almost one now.
The “party” began at 11, when we left it was almost 7. So you can imagine that everyone had drank a lot. Nobody seemed as drunk as my dad. Who could barely stand let alone walk to the pub up the road where we were going with my aunt, uncle, cousin and grandad for a meal. I was getting frustrated by this point because my mum wouldn’t leave. it took her 40 minutes to say goodbye to two people. one of whom was walking to the pub as they lived across the road. I just wanted to go home by this point. My socialising migraine had kicked in and I wanted to go to bed.
I walked ahead. and got to the pub where my aunt, uncle and grandad were already eating. They too wanted to go home and I didn’t blame them. When my parents finally arrived, my dad stumbled in and I was fuming. Everyone thought it was hilarious that he could hardly stand, but I was beyond angry. He did not drink anymore, I made him drink a coffee and then some coke. I was horrified by his drunken state. I don’t understand why he has to get so drunk.
And then my dad’s brothers walked in the pub, because they were doing the pub quiz which takes place on that evening. Which was a coincidence, my dads brother had printed the order or service for us as he works for a printing company. It was at this point I realised how drunk my mother was as she said goodbye to them for 20 minutes and thanked my uncle over and over, telling him he was amazing and cried hysterically. It was traumatising and I felt like a sheep dog trying to wrangle my family out of the pub door.
By the time we got out I was frustrated, I didn’t want to walk the 20 minutes home because I didn’t think my parents would make it without stumbling into the road and getting hit by a car, and I was too tired and the migraine was becoming too much for me to sheepdog them all the way home. But there was 5 of us so we need a black cab to pick us up.
We began walking because the taxi service told us it would take 15 minutes for a cab to arrive, and I was getting more and more angry. my dad charged off ahead stumbling all over the place and my mum stumbled slowly behind.
I felt like a parent trying to take their out of control children home from school. One in front of me miles ahead and one behind me miles behind. It sent my back to my childhood. We used to have a lot of family parties, people turned 40, 18, 21 we had a house party, just for family, every time. My parents didn’t get out much so at these parties they got beyond drunk, and left at 3-4am. we walked home, no one lived more than 20 minutes away from our house. but even then, at 8 or 10 years old. I felt I was looking after my parents making sure THEY got home, as we would leave my aunts and uncles would say to me “make sure they get home safe.” it became my job. I kept thinking “what if someone comes and attacks them. I will have to fight them” they look like easy targets they can hardly stand. Just as I was remembering this, and becoming slightly horrified by it, my brother flagged a taxi down and we were taken home. I unlocked the door, said hello to my cat. Went straight upstairs put my pyjamas on and then went to bed. it was 9pm. I tried to sleep, but I didn’t, It wasn’t until 12am that I finally dropped off.
I woke up to multiple statuses on Facebook from my cousins, saying how well the funeral went and how nice it was too see everyone. and how much we all love each other. but something that really gets to me is that two of my cousins seem to have taken it upon themselves to organise a “golf tournament” to “get grandad out of the house” they are incredibly patronising and would talk to my grandparents like they were 4 anyway. You know that tone of voice you use with children? They are only trying to get us together because grandma died and I feel disappointed. Why should that have to happen for them to want to spend time with granddad, or the rest of the family? I visit my grandad at least once a week. And I always have, since I was born I guess. My grandad is very independent. for the last 3 years he has, cooked, cleaned, washed, done everything for himself and my grandma. He goes to the town centre to shop, he goes to supermarkets. He can get himself out of the house.
I find these type of things half hearted, gestures formed only to please their egos. My grandparents were always upset by the way that some of my cousins never visited, or bought their children to see them. I would never tell my cousins that because I think it would break their hearts to know that my grandma was sad that she never got to see them. Because I know that in 3 years they could have made the effort to see her. At the funeral I met my cousins son for the first time since he was 3 weeks old. he is 7 now. I guess, much like my mums cousins people drift apart. I don’t know my mums cousins so why should my cousins children know me?
but our grandparents were still alive. We all had a thing that bought us together. We were such a close family. I don’t know what happened in the last few years. I think my cousins death really shook us all up. I thought it would bring us together, but it didn’t. It drove us apart. It’s so sad that one thing can be such a huge catalyst for such a sad thing.
The Elephant in the Room