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Back at work

Feels strange being here after not focusing on work at all for four days. The whole funeral thing was an adventure. I really didn't want it to be an adventure but that's how it turned out so I just rolled with the punches. Since I'd been down to the farm all of the previous weekend plus last Monday and Tuesday nights getting it all cleaned up for the folks' emergency trip out for the funeral, I elected not to go down Wednesday night, meet the folks and trade vehicles. We had thought the best thing to do since I volunteered to drive to St. Louis and pick up my aunt and uncle from California, would be to get mom and dad's van and drive from here after working 1/2 day Thursday, and take the interstate all the way down. But I was pretty tired so Dad and I talked and agreed I would make a speed run down to Rushville Thursday after work, trade vehicles and then speed down to the airport in St.Louis to pick up Dean and Hazel. It was a better plan in a way since as soon as I decided not to go to the farm Thursday, my brain shut down and I fell asleep for some much needed rest. But in retrospect (foreshadowing here) the original plan would have been better.

The big factor Thursday was time. The viewing for my uncle was from 4 - 8. I was getting off work at noon thirty. It's 1.5 hours to the farm from work. Then it's at least 2.5 hours to St.Louis from there. My aunt and uncle's plane was supposed to get in at 3:20. You do the math to figure out how fast I had to drive.

Even though I got behind every piece of farm equipment and semi on the way down, I actually made it to Rushville in an hour and 5 minutes (89 miles...again do the math). dad met me at the corner where I would turn toward the farm, saving me a few minutes anyway. He gave me a cell phone and told me there was a cooler in the van with soda and snacks. I tossed him my keys and I was off. For the record, you should never allow a diabetic (dad) and a heart patient (mom) to pack a cooler for you on a trip. Caffeine free, diet sodas and granola bars do not make Wander a happy camper. I actually tried one of the diet 7-Ups and reconfirmed the fact I despise the taste of both Nutrasweet and aspartame. At least there were a lot of granola bars to choose from. So Off I go. First off, no matter what way you go, you have to go through Alton, IL, at least from where I was starting. There are 4 different routes, all being the same distance and at least one being freer of cops that the others. Problem is, the one that's the freest of cops is also a narrow two lane and you can't be assured you won't get behind a farmer driving a combine down the middle of the road.

After you get to Alton and cross the Mississippi, you again have a couple route choices to choose from. You can get on Rt. 367 and go down to where Rt. 67 cuts off and goes strait to the airport. Late at night or on the weekends when traffic is less, this is probably the best way. The problem is, Rt. 67 is also Lindbergh Blvd., one of the main suburban routes in St. Louis. 3 lanes each direction and a traffic light every 1/4 - 1/2 mile. With no traffic it's pretty fast. After 3 PM on a Thursday, it's snail's butt slow. So the alternative is to continue down 367 to I-270 west and get off on I-170 to the airport.

I had gotten to Rushville around 1:40. I actually got to Alton by 3:40 which was a miracle. I got across the river and went down 367. I noticed in my southbound lanes the traffic was flowing well but the northbound lanes were at a standstill due to construction. So I figured coming back up the interstate on the way back was a mistake. A little farther down, I saw the on-ramp to 67 was blocked with construction, so that option was now gone. I went on down and hopped on I-270 which was heavy with traffic but at least it was still moving fast. I noticed the eastbound lanes were completely jammed so my later fate was decided. I'd have to find Lindbergh Blvd coming out of the airport and fight my way through rush hour traffic as quickly as I could to get back to Alton.

I made my way over to the far left lane (4 lanes) so I could easily merge left on I-170 in a few miles. Then to my horror, I saw THE SIGN. I-170 CLOSED DUE TO CONSTRUCTION. DETOUR TO RT.67 LINDBERG BLVD 1/2 MILE.

I made a valiant effort but needless to say I missed the exit. In fact I missed the next exit too which I found out later would have taken me straight to the airport by a back route. The exit I did manage to hit a few miles later put me on an expressway that only went west and I needed to go east and south. So I made a rapid pull over and grabbed my St. Charles County Map. I found a one lane back road that would take me back east a few miles then a cut off that would join me back with Lindbergh Blvd. It was now 4:20. My relatives and landed an hour ago and were probably cussing me by now. It's a good thing I didn't break down on the little backroads I took. For being right outside St. Louis, you would have thought we were in the movie Deliverance. I finally hit Lindbergh Blvd. at 4:40 and the noticed all the exits to the airport were blocked with construction. So I had to go down to I-70 and circle back. Southwest Airlines flies into a separate terminal from all the others. Good thing I remembered that right at the last minute and cut across 3 lanes of taxis and airport shuttles to make the exit. Many middle fingers were raised in response to that maneuver I assure you. I was heading for the east terminal parking garage when I cruised through the breezeway and notice my aunt and uncle sitting inside. I stopped in the middle of the road, honked and waved, luckily they saw me and I pulled off into the shuttle bas lane. A cop came over to give me some shit about that. I noticed my relatives were hurrying up and shot the cop a glance that told him I was just pissed enough to murder someone. He told me I had to move as fast as I could so I did. 30 seconds later, we were packed up and pulling out of there. We found a shortcut to Lindbergh Blvd and took it. It took s 30 minutes to go 10 miles. We got back up to Alton at 5:50. We have 2 hours and 10 minutes to make it to Golden, IL before the funeral home closes.

I turn to my uncle and say "It's 124 miles to Golden, we got a full tank of gas, a cooler full of granola bars, it's dark, and we're wearing sunglasses" I don't think he really go my not so subtle Blues Brothers reference but he laughed anyway. I chose the route with the fewest cops and took off.I looked down at one point and I'm doing 100 mph in a 55 zone. I checked my rear view and my aunt is asleep. I look over and my uncle is looking avidly at fields of soybeans which they apparently don't have in CA. Every once in awhile he asks me what this building or that is used for and we go on. Realize there are about 18 little towns along the way you HAVE to slow down to 35 mph in and one you actually have to stop at a light in. At 7:50 I come screaming into the parking lot of the funeral home. The relatives hop out and I park the van...mission accomplished. Everyone who wanted to got to see the body one last time even though it didn't look a thing like my uncle. After people heard the tale I was looked at with a newfound respect. I got some instructions from the funeral home director about where to report for pall bearer duty the next day and we all went to my aunt's house for dinner and visiting. I got to meet a distant cousin who lives in Phoenix and another who lives in Hannibal MO. We got back to the farm around midnight.

In the morning, I took Dad's van up to have it washed and pick some fresh tomatoes for my aunt. Talked a little to Robbie who let me know my pyro team had done a shoot in Avon the night before unbeknownst to me. Oh well, not like I would have been able to go anyway. The folks dropped me at the church at 8:30. The other pall bearers showed up 10 minutes later right when it started to pour down rain. We got the coffin into the church before the rest of the mourners showed up. The service was nice though if I were the preacher, I'd have avoided the anecdote about counseling the wife after her husband had died making love to her and saying "at least he did doing something he really enjoyed!" I kid you not, he really said that. Strange bunch those Lutherans. I was glad I was sitting with the other pall bearers and not with my aunt. I'm not really sure I wanted to see her expression.

The service did not get to me at all. Though afterward, I lost it a little we removed the pall from the coffin and draped it with the American Flag. When we got out to the grave, the minister had a brief service. The American Legion was present and the Commander did a nice "ashes to ashes" ceremony followed by a 21 gun salute. Then they played "Taps" and I completely lost it. Tears were rolling down my cheeks. Of course everyone else lost it too so I wasn't alone.

In the van on the way back to my aunt's house, I was talking about the song "Taps" and my aunt from CA told me she didn't know there were words to the song so I sang it for her and it made us all cry again.

When we got to the house we had a nice day of remembering Mervyn and several small meals. We went home around 5 and I went over to visit with Rob and Gwen for the evening. The folks went to Beardstown to have dinner with Mom's relatives.

Saturday, Dad and I worked all day replacing the roof over the back porch and bathroom. That night we had a huge country dinner of fried chicken. mashed potatoes, baked squash, fresh sliced tomatoes, home baked bread and real butter, green beans, corn on the cob and home made ice cream for dessert with my aunt. Sunday, Dad and I worked on the roof and various other projects while Mom went to Carthage for the 400 person Wear family reunion.

I got back to the city around 11 last night amidst a huge storm that lasted all night long.

Time to face another week of work now.




( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 19th, 2002 10:06 am (UTC)
peace to you and yours,
during your time of Transition
Blessed Be
Aug. 19th, 2002 03:24 pm (UTC)
Indeed that was an adventure. Yikes.

you should never allow a diabetic ... to pack a cooler for you on a trip

Or buy groceries. I have to make special requests for something edible in the house once in a while.

I cannot believe the preacher said that at a funeral! Truly the Nawth is a different place. My grandpa's Lutheran funeral was a very prim and proper affair. Emotion? What's that? The God of Martin Luther is not an emotional God.
Aug. 20th, 2002 06:54 am (UTC)
Apparently this church's congregation is thinking of getting rid of this guy because he has committed the unpardonable sin of not preaching from behind the pulpit but actually coming own among the crowd to try and get some of the younger folks involved. Sometimes I'm so glad I'm not a Christian.


Aug. 20th, 2002 10:42 am (UTC)
How DARE he! Does he not know that Lutherans go to church for a weekly nap? They cannot sleep comfortably if the preacher is wending his way through the pews! Garrison Keillor would be ashamed of him.
Aug. 20th, 2002 12:22 pm (UTC)
The guy actually sounded like Keillor which is one reason I stayed awake during the service. That and the constant standing up and sitting down. Does God really care if you stand up or sit down when you pray?


Aug. 20th, 2002 02:46 pm (UTC)
Keeps the blood flowing. Wouldn't look good for God if someone got a blood clot in their leg in His church, after all.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )


Wander aka StoneBear
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