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A Bittersweet Journey

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(Branch of Bittersweet found along the driveway.)

Coming back to the rural area where I grew up has been filled with sorrow, wonderful memories and sometimes, hilarity. I arrived here on Wednesday night and had a lovely dinner with my sister, Carole and family. On Thursday, I spent the day doing errands with Carole and even ended up in Walmart (horrors!) where I bought some great sunglasses. I lost my prescription sunglasses and was complaining about the glaring sun. Carole handed me an extra pair of sunglasses that fit over your prescription glasses and have a sort of lid and side pieces that totally keeps the sun out of your eyes. They are quite cool. So I had to go to Walmart and get some of my own. Please pardon, the hair ?Ǩ I haven’t gotten dressed for the day! But, look at the sorta smile!)

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Thursday night was calling hours for my Carolyn. This is a part of the culture here that I have not seen on the West coast. My brother, Frank, niece, Karen and her partner, and nephew Kevin and his wife formed a receiving line near the open casket of my sister-in-law. The casket was surrounded by bouquets and arrangements of flowers, some in shapes of hearts and crosses. Many, many people passed through ?Ǩ neighbors, classmates, co-workers, relatives. There were children playing and laughing. They were very comfortable with the deceased body as they went up to the casket to have a better look. I’m thinking that this is a very healthy way of dealing with the death of a loved one.

I saw relatives from my father’s side of the family that I have not seen in some time. I reconnected with Carolyn’s sisters and met their families. We sat around and talked about our memories of Carolyn.

Yesterday, was the funeral. My niece, Robin, who is an ordained Presbyterian minister, did the service. It was beautiful. We cried and laughed as she told stories from our past that included Carolyn. She mentioned how high strung the Jordan’s are (my maiden name) and how Carolyn was just the opposite and always had a calming influence when she was with us. As the mother of a gay child, I have always been comforted by how accepting Carolyn and Frank were when their daughter came out to them.

After the service, we enjoyed a big meal together at a local restaurant. Back at home my sister’s and my nieces and I imbibed in too much wine and that is where the hilarity happened. So good to spend time with them ?Ǩ my tribe of strong-willed, high strung women.

Today, the sisters and their spousers are at the Syracuse football game. I am hanging out with the nieces and the dogs. It is a glorious, perfect and spectacular fall day. I took a long walk with my camera and got these wonderful photos. You can click to see a larger image.

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This was a walk down memory lane as I saw milkweed, thistles, burdock and sumac, dress in their fall finery. Here is a close-up of milkweed pods and an even closer shot of the ladybug I found on the milk weed.

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I have finally had the peace and quite that I needed to get started on a sweater for Miles. I bought the yarn earlier this year. This gets knitted from the neck down.

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Now, I will enjoy some more quiet as the girls have gone to the Pumpkin Festival. I declined the invitation so that I could blog and knit. Will get myself cleaned up soon and go out to dinner with the family after they return from the football game.

7 Responses to “A Bittersweet Journey”

  1. DebR says:

    It sounds like it’s been as good a trip as could be expected, given the circumstances. Your photos are lovely. (And I have sunglasses just like those.)

  2. Karoda says:

    You’ve described a touching and beautiful service for Carolyn’s passing. What you refer to as “the calling” we call “a wake”.

    And the area looks like such a wonderful place to call home and have roots. Take care and have a safe trip back to Cali.

  3. Debra Roby says:

    Gorgeous photos of NY in fall. I’m a little confused about the culture you haven’t seen.

    Is it the receiving line by the casket? Or the whole visitation thing? (the funerals I’ve been to on the left coast, I’ve seen the second, but not the first)>

  4. Deborah says:

    I’m glad you’ve had a meaningful trip. I’m so drawn to those pictures with the fences. Wonderful.

  5. Kathie says:

    Sounds like it’s a visit filled with meaning and connection. Love the New York State pictures–looks like almost-home to me.

  6. Judy says:

    Gerrie, it’s good to hear that your trip home has gone so nicely. Carolyn’s spirit is definitely there with you all. What wonderful pictures!!! And yes, you are sporting “sort of a smile” in your self portrait!!! LOL

  7. jenclair says:

    I’m glad that your niece was able to do the service, it is so much more personal when the service is performed by a family member. Sounds as if a lot of good memories came to the surface and a re-connecting with relatives that live at great distances.

    Your photos are a beautiful representation of fall.