Wednesday, June 8, 2016

A hard trip to Austin

After that post yesterday about the email weirdness I should give a proper accounting of my emergency trip to Austin, Texas last week for brother Tim's funeral. I reported hearing of his death here.

My brother Tom and his wife arrived at the airport 45 minutes after I did. We shared a car and got adjacent rooms at a hotel. One nephew and wife joined us for supper, though it was quite late.

There was a family viewing at the funeral home on Thursday morning. Yes, lots of tears. Then the nephew the priest led prayers.

The public viewing was Thursday evening. That included participation by boy scouts (Tim was a founding leader of the troop at his church) and Knights of Columbus. There was also a "brief" bereavement service (50 minutes). I sat outside.

The attendance at the church the next morning was quite large, though not packed. The procession featured K of C honor guard, six of seven sons serving as pallbearers, family (and it's a large one), altar boys, the bishop who led Mass, an additional 25-30 priests (in support of their colleague my nephew). Late in the service another nephew related a story. He was directing his kids in evening chores with checklist in hand when Tim showed up. Tim watched a few minutes and asked, "What's all this?" His son answered, "This is me turning into you."

I rode with Tom and his wife to the cemetery, though not in the procession. The GPS was determined to take us on the toll road, which would have added an extra $20 fee to the rental (we found out later the automatic system doesn't charge tolls on funeral processions). We got there only a couple minutes after everyone else and the service proceeded once we were seated.

Kathy invited everyone to her house. We ate leftover funeral lunch food. The large crowd settled in for a party – little kids in front of the TV, older kids playing games, teenage girls playing dress-up (in costumes most had from the musical they were in last summer), many adults in the music room singing and playing together, and people standing around talking. I asked a nephew how many were there. He laughed.

On Saturday my efforts, along with Tom and his wife, turned to packing up Mom. After Dad died last September Tim and Kathy invited Mom, well into Alzheimer's, to live with them. Kathy felt burned out by January and it took Tim until April to take her seriously and put Mom in a care facility. Even with Mom not in the house Kathy still had a lot of extra work. Faced with all the things she had been doing as well as all the things Tim had been doing she felt overwhelmed. Tom and his wife had offered to take Mom last fall, so did so again, though it was a scramble to find a facility to put her in and arrange plane tickets to get her to Pittsburgh.

On Sunday Tom, his wife, and I went to Trinity Church in Austin. It is associated with both the United Methodist Church and the United Church of Christ, with touches of Unitarian Universalist as part of the service. I knew were in a good place when I saw the rainbow altar cloth (I had also been there before). Their summer sermon series sounds intriguing: in praise of heretics. We heard only the introductory sermon.

On Monday we checked Mom out of her care facility, loaded her up, and went to the airport. My flight to Detroit was at 12:50, theirs to Pittsburgh at 1:45. I got a call saying they arrived safely, though they've been busy since getting Mom settled into a new facility.

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