In times of need, I am generally the go-to girl. I can wrangle with airlines and hotels on a moment’s notice. Stranded overseas? I can find someone at the State Department and keep them on the phone until they’ll do anything to solve the problem and get rid of me. Need your taxes filed? I can do it in thirty minutes and find the extra deductions. I can throw together emergency casseroles in a heartbeat, dash off thank you notes, and track down an all night store for any need.
When it’ s something that happens for me, those instincts also go into effect. However, then, when everyone expects (wants?) to see me crumble, my brain is in planning mode. It’s a defense mechanism. If I can just schedule the flight, pack the bag, and call all the right people, I can survive it. I am not the kind of person who gets carried through tough times. And when I’ve checked all the boxes, done all the steps, when it’s all behind me, then I can cave. Behind my own door, where I can collapse and be a disaster all on my own.
My dad called from my mom’s cell phone at 10 this morning. At which point, I knew something was wrong. My dad does not do cell phones. Or phone calls. And definitely not on weekend mornings. My throat clutched a bit. He was calling to let me know that my grandfather, my mom’s dad, had passed away. He’d had cancer last fall which had been run off by a round of chemo, but last week he wasn’t feeling well. He went back to the hospital and found out that not only did he have pneumonia, but the cancer was back. And the two made it hard to treat the other. My mom rushed off to Tennessee to be with him and my grandmother. But despite their best efforts, they couldn’t fix it this time.
He passed away, in his sleep this morning, with his wife of 50+ years and two loving daughters by his side. We should all be so lucky. So, when I found out, I went into planning mode. Trying to track down a flight to Atlanta that wouldn’t clean out my life savings on 24 hours’ notice. Calling and texting my sister who is out of town at a friend’s wedding to figure out what time she would be back to drive me from the airport to my cousin’s house where we’ll be staying for the service. Trying to figure out if I have two appropriate outfits for the service and the viewing. Asking BC for yet another ride to the airport.
And now that the planning’s done, I’m here. On the couch. Thinking about family, near and far. And grateful that I am finally at a point when I am grown up enough to have money in the bank for an emergency flight and a good suit, and dear friends who can be counted on to help out on a moment’s notice.
Rest in peace, Pa. We all loved you very much.