I’ve been thinking a lot recently about when my grandpa died. His second wife (who has been my grandma for as long as I can remember, married when I was an infant) had her own family, grown children and grandchildren when they got married. I never knew them well, they didn’t come to events for my grandpa’s family and we didn’t go to events with grandma’s family. There was never any bad blood, it was just how we worked it out. Both of their families were huge and settled, trying to integrate them was just logistically impractical.
When grandpa died one of the step great grand nieces showed up to a Catholic ceremony in flip flops, a tank top, and yoga pants. She didn’t understand why people were upset, it was all black, “That’s what you do at a funeral, right?” (Her own words exactly.) She tried to sit up front in the first few pews, reserved for immediate family and surviving spouses of siblings that had passed. Grandma had to walk her back further into the church and sit her down in another section.
She sat through the ceremony on her phone, as I found out later from one of my mom’s cousins. Updating Facebook, playing games, not paying attention at all to what was going on around her. When it was time to drive to the grave site she practically ran to her car so she could be first in line behind the hearse. We got to the grave site and she made a huge show of being so upset she could hardly stand, she needed to sit down. She didn’t wait for the pallbearers to carry the casket down, she started right down the hill to the grave site. My grandma had to rush over to her and grab her shoulder to stop her and let the casket go first.
Grandma leaned in close and said something to her and the girl. Girl looked over in my direction and pulled a disgusted face. Behind me were my grandpa’s two surviving siblings (in their late 80s and both having suffered strokes) and their spouses and the surviving spouses of his other two brothers, also elderly. We let the older generation have the extremely limited graveside seating, my mom and my sister and I all stood directly behind them and tried not to cry. I glanced over at one point, there was a car horn and screeching tires on the street, and I saw her standing around looking bored, shifting her weight and fidgeting restlessly before pulling her phone out and typing on it again.
After the graveside ceremony she immediately bolted to her car and drove off. The rest of us lingered for a bit before heading back to the church where there was a sandwich type luncheon provided for us. She had finished a plate of food and was going back for a second plate before anyone else even showed up! (It was obvious, she still had the telltale leftover bean sauce and a bit of potato salad still on her plate.)
I overheard her later on when the luncheon was almost over. “Oh, no, I never really knew him all that well, but it’s so sad when people die, you know?”
Let me be clear, this is a woman in her mid 20s. I don’t know where her immediate family was or why anyone else on her side of the family (there were about five or six of them present) didn’t say anything to her. My mom tried at one point, and so did the cousin who saw her on her phone during the service, she waved them off with her hand and scoffed audibly. My grandma was the only person she seemed to listen to, so in addition to burying her husband of nearly thirty years she had to corral disrespectful family members as well.
I’m glad it was handled. I’m glad it’s over. I’m glad that the next time (and probably the last time) I see this woman will be at my grandma’s funeral where she can go all out mourning, I’ll be polite and respectful and give her and her family the space they need. 0603-15
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