Trip to Minnesota

Edna at Living Desert
Edna at Living Desert, Feb 2005

Two celebrations

Over the Memorial Day weekend I went back to Minnesota for the funeral of sibling number five, Edna, whose road trip to visit me in Palm Springs was chronicled here so ably by guest author Niece Carol. Edna's battle against the team of cancer, stroke, diabetes, and other assorted health "challenges" ended peacefully last week at her home, surrounded by her family.

Carl, Edna's husband of almost 50 years

Edna Mae (it was her real middle name after all) didn't like funerals — they always made her cry — so she had decreed that her own would be a celebration of her life, not a melancholy lament of her death, and her family tried to oblige. As was the custom with many peoples across history, they provided her with lovely parting gifts to accompany her: a packet of seeds, so she could start her garden; a fresh crossword puzzle to keep her vocabulary sharp; an extra Joker to give her an advantage in the card games she loved to play; the piece that was always missing from her jigsaw puzzle; some tissues, for she was prone to laughing so hard it made her cry; a button that defiantly proclaimed, "I survived damn near everything"; and other such momentos, all in a little blue satchel tucked in the casket with her. I'm not sure, but the satchel may have been re-purposed from a gift bottle of Chivas Regal.

There was, of course, a wake with "reveal" — those funeral directors have been watching too many make-over shows — and a funeral Mass, although it was leavened with amusing anecdotes. Some tears were naturally shed, but they were followed as often as not by giggles and guffaws. And after the service and motorcade to the cemetery everyone reconvened at the church for a "lunch" including that midwest treat, "hot dish." And as usual scores of relatives and old family friends emerged from the hinterlands to test my powers of recall (I was a dismal failure for the most part).

So Edna's funeral was the first celebration.

And then there were four

Edna's death leaves four of the original six siblings who have not yet been voted off the island.

Florence, aka Sis
Florence, aka 'Sis', sibling #1
Ethel, sibling #2
Harold, sibling #3
Paul, sibling #6

Next generation

Then on Saturday, my nephew Randy and his wife Diane threw a big party, celebration number two, in honor of son Michael's high school graduation. In deference to the dreary weather — frequent showers and chilly temps — they cleaned out a big shed on the farm and moved the party inside.

In a move that is sure to endear me to many of those enpixilated, I brought out my camera to take a few snaps. Check out the slideshow (see sidebar) to see why.

'Daughter' Nancy. Unfortunately, she's picked up some bad habits from her Auntie Sis

And speaking of the next generation, I finally got to meet my "grandchildren." Many, many years ago, at my parents' fiftieth wedding anniversary, my niece Nancy (daughter of Edna) took pity upon me — the only sibling without fruits hanging from my branch of the family tree — and adopted me as her father for purposes of the reunion. Fair's fair. I think that makes Nancy's four sons my grandsons!

'Grandsons' Adam, Greg, Mark, and Steve

Strange to say, the lads did not seem overly excited to learn of this additional grandparent.