Bill Reuter Brother-in-law Bill, 1921-2007 Picture from family reunion 2006

Farewell to Bill

If this is Minnesota it must be a funeral

Each round trip between Palm Springs and Minneapolis is worth about 3600 miles on a frequent flyer program, but going to visit relatives at their departure from this world is not a preferred way to accumulate them. The latest trip was for the funeral of brother-in-law Bill, married to sister Ethel. Bill suffered a massive heart attack Sunday afternoon getting up from his recliner to go do farm chores, as he did every day of his life. At his age and in his state of health, there was simply nothing doctors could do, and he died Monday afternoon.

Ethel Sister Ethel

As befits someone who spent part of each day communing with his God, Bill had a proper Catholic burial service. As befits someone who lived life on his own terms, he was buried in his Sunday go-to-church suit, but with his baseball cap and decks of playing cards at hand; and at the end of the funeral mass, the recessional music was the It Doesn't Get Any Better Than This polka. Presumably God got as good a chuckle from that as all the people in the church.

When it came to making travel arrangements I had no choice but to take the red-eye from Palm Springs on Wednesday night, arriving in Minneapolis at 4am. When I arrived the hotel to check in, the lobby was full of high-school band members checking out and having breakfast.

"I'm checking in," I said, "the reservation is under Williamson."

The confusion on the face of the woman behind the desk cleared. "Oh, that one," she said, reaching for the sole unclaimed reservation lying on the counter.

And because of other pressing matters requiring my presence in Palm Springs on Friday, I had no choice but to catch the 5am flight from Minneapolis on Friday morning, which meant getting up at 3am to get to the airport. With only about 50 people going through airport security at that time of the morning, it still took over 30 minutes while the TSA went through their "it's for your security" routine.

For the record, I want to note that neither in Palm Springs nor in Minneapolis did my liquid and gel toiletries attract any attention, despite being defiantly not being packed in the specified "1-quart zip-lock plastic bag." I know I've said it before, but I'll say it again: It's such a farce.

They don't call them red-eye flights for nothing

Astonishingly, given my prior experiences on US Airways, all the flights were on time and there were no missed connections. I arrived back in Palm Springs at 8:30am, drove home, changed my clothes, and headed off to my first appointment of the day.