In mid-January Rich's Uncle Joe died (Joe was his mom's brother). Uncle Joe was a great man and it is a true loss for everyone - not just his family. Rich and I went down to PA for the wake and funeral . . . . we told the boys what happened and they decided to make cards for Aunt Greta and for Judy (Rich's mom). Wonderful idea!!! We were smart and had them tell us what they wanted to say on the cards and helped them write it out on scrap paper. Ha! No worries there, right? So we packed the cards and headed out after dropping the kids off at Nick and Sofia's house to catch the bus (thanks again!).
It was going to be a tough few days, but the cards would make my mother-in-law and Aunt Greta smile. We had no idea what was about to happen . . . . .
After the the fun drive through the non-scenic Southern Tier of NY and east nowhere PA, we finally made it to Patton - just as a light snow started. What?? You have never heard of Patton, PA?!?! Were you raised under a rock? It's a thriving metrop . . . . who am I kidding? I had never heard of it either until I met Rich! It's a LITTLE town between State College and Pittsburgh. The big city near them in Altoona. I know, you are jealous that we got to go to such an exotic place!! Oh - the light snow turned into a fairly decent storm. A side note - people in PA do NOT know how to handle snow. It was amusing . . . I would like to introduce the concept of salting the roads to them. It's a new idea that just might catch on . . . .
So, we made it through the first part of calling hours - lots of family and friends to talk with and catch up with. There were tears but there were also a lot of laughs!! After the little dinner break, we headed back upstairs for round two.
I guess I should now mention that Uncle Joe was in the family business. He was a funeral home owner/director. As were his father and grandfather. His son (Joe Jr.) was also in the business for a number of years. Some cousins now own the business - including the funeral home that Uncle Joe owned. Not only did Uncle Joe own it, he lived in it. And grew up in it (as in lived in it) along with my mother-in-law. Man have we heard some stories!!! Actually, during our dinner break we got to hear some great stories from Rich's cousins about growing up in the funeral home . . . one was about the boys using a bucket to raise food to the two girls who stayed in their bedroom on the third floor during wakes - the boys decided to stay in the kitchen/basement so they had the food!
Anyway . . . back to the cards. So during the second session of calling hours we decided to give the cards to Judy and Aunt Greta. Judy was first . . . .
Timmy made a nice card with this message: "I am sorry Uncle Joe died."
Simple and to the point . . . . I guess - but not quite what we thought he was going to write. Typical Timmy.
Then came Andrew's card . . . . .
Yes, those are pop-up gravestones.
Yes, I wanted to crawl into a cave far far away. My son made a sympathy card for his grandmother with pop-up gravestones. Thank GOD Judy found the humor and laughed. To his credit, he did work really hard on this and it is . . . . original. The funniest thing is that Rich put the card in his suit coat packet and forgot to give it back to his mom. The next day Judy was very worried because she couldn't find the card and was VERY happy that we had it . . . and she made sure to get it back!
But wait - my heart (along with Rich's heart) skipped a beat or three . . . what the heck did he do for Aunt Greta?????
We nervously walked over to her and gave her the cards. Timmy's was cute and he said something about how he loved her. Then she opened Andrew's card. I was scared to look. My palms were starting to sweat. I think Rich was a little pale . . . .
She pulled the card out ..... no obvious cutting . . . .
A HUGE sigh of relief!!! A big heart on the outside . . . on the inside he wrote that he loved her!
We could relax. Then we decided to allow others to enjoy the gravestone card. We showed it to Rich's cousins and their kids. Everyone laughed - a lot. It was the perfect way for them to see Andrew's personality and for him to make people laugh when it was really needed. And he did it without even being there!! And more importantly, it was the perfect tribute to Uncle Joe.
The rest of the evening was wonderful - the firemen and Vets were there and it was beautiful. The funeral the next day was extremely moving and the graveside military service was beyond beautiful. Even the snowstorm was funny in an odd way - Uncle Joe HATED snow. BUT . . . . there was a snow day for his grandchildren so they didn't miss school and their perfect attendance record wasn't in danger!
It was obvious that Uncle Joe was an amazing man and that he was loved by everyone that ever met him. I am lucky that I got to see him a few times and I treasure those memories. He is missed but his love continues through his family!! He brought everyone together and we were able to reconnect with family. I look forward to visits from cousins and to invading some cousins on our way to Florida (watch out Jeff and Laraine!).
And yes, we are planning a trip to east nowhere PA to visit Aunt Greta and Sally this summer - with the boys so they can have the pleasure of making Aunt Greta laugh in person!!!