...to blogging that is. I actually am in New Jersey right now, getting ready to head back to Los Angeles after attending my grandmother's funeral this weekend. It's been a busy week for me, one in which I returned from NY to LA so that I could do some major coloring. Then on Saturday morning I flew BACK to NYC with my brother Steve, to be with our father during this funeral services. So how did it go?
It was sad and strange and surreal. The wake was open casket, which I found to be very unsettling. My grandmother looked a lot better than the last time I saw her in the hospital. But the improvements/restoration came with an odd down side -- she looked like a wax musuem figure. I didn't really care for that, and would have prefered a closed casket. Yet for those of us who saw her in her final moments, the wax like image was a better last image than what we saw at the hospital. She had many visitors and family members there to pay their final respects. Its just a shame this family renunion didnt take place with her alive to enjoy it. I'm pretty sure I was the only grandson who hadn't visited her in the last fifteen years. And for that I feel like the worst sort of heel. So I apologized to her for that and said my goodbyes.
On a slightly more positive note... It wasn't as awkward as I thought it would be, seeing 40+ family members who last saw me over 20 years ago. Everyone was nice and at least remembered me on some level, which is more than I can say for them. But believe me, I'm not bragging about that. I think its pretty sad that there are all of these people with the same last name and DNA as me, who are basically complete strangers. But at least my brother Jack remembered them well enough to share some memories of their antics as children. Jack was a lot closer in age to them, so he had actual memories of hanging out with and getting into trouble with some of the cousins.
Here are a few things I learned this weekend...
-I have a couple cousins who were born in the late 50's
-I have a cousin born in 1987
-I have 2 cousins who look more like Jack than I do
-One of my cousins has a 23 year old daughter in law school
-My Uncle Ronnie bears a resemblance to Joe Dimaggio
-My Uncle Gene looks like a younger, cleaner living version of my dad
-My Aunt Cathy reminds me a lot of my mother-- not physically, but in the thoughtful and kind way she talks.
-When my Grandma was angry she would take old photos and scratch off her OWN face in the pictures. No one seems to know why it was her face she scratched off instead of other people's.
-In Castel Del Mare, Italy (where my family is from), there is a museum dedicated to the Buccellatos.
During the Catholic funeral service on Monday I couldn't stop thinking about my father. I pretty much watched him the entire time and thought about how he must feel even at the age of 74, not to have his mother around. Not to be able to speak to her or listen to her, even though she was practically deaf and liked to repeat herself. He won't ever go back to the little one bedroom apartment in Islip that she lived in for the last 9 years of her life. He will never have any new memories of her. Watching my dad in the church made me think about him and my own mother and how completely unprepared I am to lose them. Dad handled things quietly and kept his composure throughout, something I'm not sure I will be able to do. Then again, all of the Buccellato men seemed to handle things in the same stoic manner. Only my aunts and female cousins cried openly.
Anyway, I'm done for the night... so I will just end it right here with the lasting image of the weekend. When Dad dropped Steve and I off at the LIRR train station, we said our goodbyes. Me, I didn't really know what to say to him the entire weekend so I didn't say much. I just patted him on the back a lot and tried to stay in close proximity to him. As Steve hugged Dad, he told him "I'm sorry you lost your mom." Now, it may not sound like much to anyone else, but to me it was the best thing anyone could have said. It's something I didn't say. It's something I wish I said. It summed up the entire weekend.
I can only remember ever saying "I'm sorry." But now I wish like hell I would have said what he did.