You may have noticed that I have not posted for quite some time on here. It's not due to the usual reason of not posting (I usually lose interest), no I'm soon on medication for that. The real reason I have not posted is far worse, far grimmer, far more personal.
On Thursday, June 29th, at 4:30 in the morning my Grandfather John A. "Jack" Rimkunas died.
I recieved the news at around 10:00 AM that morning from my father. I was due to spend the night at my friend's house for her birthday that night. After hearing the news I was indecisive as to whether or not I should go. In the end I decided that it would be in my best interest to be with my friends that day. That evening when I arived and told them the news, they weren't quite sure how to react to me. I acted somewhat erratic, switching at random from very quiet to very loud and back again. I wasn't quite sure how to act myself actually.
I got through the entire day without crying. I assumed that it would hit me all at once eventually, probably at the funeral, and I would start crying my eyes out. Time however, proved me wrong. That night I couldn't sleep. I would be starting to drift off when suddenly I would be hit with a memory of my Grandfather and snap awake. My poor friend Casey put up with me beautifully. She got about as little sleep as I did.
The next day was uneventful. My mother (whose father had died) came home and oddly enough, I was screened for ADD at a phycologist's office. No one talked. My normally incredibly hyper-social family fell silent. It was a strange day of contemplation. That night I wrote a letter to my Grandfather. I knew he would not be able to read it, but I did it anyway. I could have sworn I heard him say "thanks Nell!". Again, I did not cry.
Saturday was spent in Maine, where I would be staying for the next three days. My family wrote a eulegy, and I was assigned the task of reading a peice with my cousin Peter. They figured we would be the ones to do it without crying. It was a simple offeratory reading, narrating what was being carried to the alter by another cousin at the time. We practiced it once and nothing went wrong. Another day went by without crying.
Sunday was the Wake. Every reletive I knew, and several I didn't, showed up. "Poppa"(as we called him) was at the front of an ornatly decorated room with many chairs in a casket. He looked peacefull, if not heavily made up, and anyone could have seen how sick he was. Old memories and stories filled the air in the funeral home all day until 4:00. We broke for dinner after that and my family checked in at a Motel. We ate dinner at a Denny's between the motel and funeral home with my Aunt Cathy, Uncle Mark, and cousins Miriam, George and Lydia. I actually had an incredible amount of fun at dinner that night. It's strange how out of a tragety so grave can come one of the best experiences of your life.
I spent the night at my cousin Miriam's house, after finding that the Motel 8 we were staying at was full of suspitious men and the smell of cigarettes and booze. Even at a wake, I was tearless.
We gave our last respects the next day, at the funeral home before going to Holy Martyrs Catholic Church for the funeral. As I knealed before the casket with my cousin Miriam, not familer with Catholic tradition, I didn't realize that this was the last time I would ever see him. I didn't understand it when the funeral director said "you may pay your final respects now". I cursed myself on the way there for noticing the overuse of lipgloss on his body rather then saying farewell. I was put in the last car of the procession, I remember putting the purple funeral flag onto my cousin's care and thinking how strange it was that the majority of us were not traveling with our immediate families. The car ride there was not somber, but joyous in fact. My family is not one to wallow, and as opposed to sitting in saddened silence we talked merrily about the time we had with him. We theorised that he now controls the unpredictable weather in New England, due to his love of meteorology. We arrived at the church in good spirits.
The coffin was blessed in front of the family only in the lobby of Holy Martyrs at 11:00 AM. It was carried to the front of the church with us in tow. My grandfather had seven children and thirteen grandchildren. Each of us had a specific part in the service. He had planned it out before he died, and we did exactly as he said. My aunts and uncles read Bible psalms, and letters. My Aunt Cathy sang a Catholic intersession while my Aunt Allie sang Ave Maria, both absolutly incredible. I rose and went to the back of the church with the rest of my cousins, the grandchildren, just before we were due to do our part. My cousin Peter and I walked suprisingly gracefully to the front of the church and stood at the pulpit behind the alter and waited. As the first set of my cousins came up the isle, my cousin Peter started the reading off. We traded off everytime a new set of cousins with a different set of Poppa-related artifacts came up the isle. I ended it with an emotional reading about a prayer shawl the entire family had pitched in to make him near the end of his life. It was with him when he died.
I remember thinking as I walked back to my seat in the church, about how little I had contributed to that shawl. Mind you, I can't knit, or sew, or do much of anything involving string of any form. I'm not a very crafty person. But deep down I was still horribly guilty, and felt deeply that I could have done more. I should have been able to do something. It was here, during the rather upbeat eulegy, while I was deep in this thought that I almost broke down in tears. I was ready for it, tissue and all, but the tears didn't come. Not a single drop. Even as we walked out, and everyone was crying I was dry. I wondered around comforting people, giving them tissues, hugging them, telling them it was ok to cry. I'm such a hypocrite sometimes.
I've always been VERY close with my cousins. They are like my best friends. Never before had I felt so close to them then after that service, comforting them in the lobby. We had a huge group hug, tearful and smiling all at the same time. Words can't quite convey the scene in the lobby, it was emotional to the max. The entire family, all 50 of us, went out to "The Village Cafe" for lunch. Our family had a history with the family that owned resteraunt, and they were deeply sorry about our loss. The lunch was (to put as many synonyms in here as possible) lively, merry, enjoyable, fun, and sociable. I was one of the most fun times I've ever had. We had a huge toast, not carring who saw us, to my grandfather. Several people not in our party, who had never heard of us before, joined in the toast anyway. My only complaint was the incredibly small portion of shirmp I got. I didn't need to cry there.
One of the saddest weekends of my life, it was definatly one of the most memorable. Even now, I find myself unable to cry and after all this emotion, I don't really think I need to. Outsiders, not knowing my family at all, would have thought this this the most lively funeral they'd ever seen. I find it truely amazing that out of one person's death, a loved one's death, such an incredible amount of life and activity and mystery can be born.
In Memorium: John A. "Jack" Rimkunas: November 20, 1934 - June 29, 2006
Poppa, I'll miss you. You were the only person I ever beat at chess. Goodbye.