Well, I hadn't planned on it, but I made my way down to South Carolina for Thanksgiving after all. It wasn't under the happiest of circumstances, so the whole trip was painted with a tinge of sadness, but my family is nothing if not 'game'. We roll with punches pretty well. Even punches straight to the jaw when we weren't paying attention.
I got my brakes fixed Monday and hit the road around two. The drive itself was more taxing than usual. My sleep from the night before lacked in quantity and quality. I listened to a couple of books on tape, ate at a Waffle House, and caught a few hours of snooze time at a rest stop in Tennessee. That all helped.
I pulled into my Mom's driveway around 7 am on Tuesday. Everyone was still in bed, but, as I found out later, had barely slept since Sunday. Everyone, that is, except for my sister-in-law Amber and this kid:
(That picture is NOT of Amber and Bailey. That's my brother Sam. He just has Farrah hair.) She made the long drive kind of ok. Over the next few days I ate, drank, laughed, and cried, all in complete and total excess. It was a sort of extra-gluttonous Thanksgiving.
We didn't do the traditional dinner at Grandmama's house like we usually do. It was too weird. There was one of those guestbooks on a stand in the entryway and people kept coming over and bringing food. Nothing says 'condolences' like pie says 'condolences'.
To be totally honest, my brothers and I kinda stuck around my mom's place to avoid the funereal feel of my Grandma's. Mom, Grandmama, and Uncle Harry all lived within about ten or fifteen minutes of eachother. We'd go and hang out with the larger family for a while, but then we'd have to come home, play with a baby and deep-fry turkey.
We fried two of them. We had a pot of 350 degree peanut oil on a cooker in our back yard, and cooked a couple of those suckers after we injected them with creole spice and cajun butter and rubbed them down with spices. It was our first and second tries, and we already have plans to do at least 3 for Christmas.
The funeral itself was on Friday. Gun salute. Bugle call. People were pretty stoic until then. We all kinda lost it when the rifles started going off and they folded up the flag. Even my Grandma. And she's made of die-cast metal.
I drove back up on Saturday. I went through the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. It was an extra 45 minutes to go that way, but when you're driving for 15 or 16 hours, that's a drop in the bucket. A few years ago we all took a trip to the Smokies with Uncle Harry and his daughter Jessica. It was on that trip that I fell in love with the mountains, and it was that love for the mountains that took me to App State, where I fell in love with improv, which brought me to Chicago. The trip to the Smokies was my Uncle Harry's idea.