December 22, 2014
Mom would understand, I believe, the ten live Maine lobsters scrabbling around the back seat of my car as we rush across the cemetery to decorate her gravesite in anticipation of the hysterical holiday – Christmas coupled with the anniversary of her death.
Ya. No. She does not.
“Dear God,” she says from somewhere else. “You are driving through a cemetery with LIVE LOBSTERS! What if someone I know sees you!”
A pause. She keeps talking.
“Well, not YOU! But what if they see your sistah? You’re the happy fool! No one will think twice! But your sistah is an ATTORNEY NOW! Please tell me you aren’t putting them on all on little leashes and walking them around the headstones!”
Now there’s an idea. My dead grandmother agrees.
“If I were gonna take a flock of lobstahs on a stroll through the bone yahhd,” Nana’s voice says from the backseat, “I’d put ‘em on red rhinestone leashes. It’s more festive.”
Mom is in no mood for her mother today. “Zip it, old lady. She doesn’t need any encouragement.” And then to me, “You had better not be letting those things out!”
“No, Mum,” I think-say. “I’m just a bit…”
“LATE!” she yells. “Typical.”
Late as usual. That part she doesn’t understand and I cringe as I hear her voice. “You girls are always late. You’ll be late for your own funerals and a year later, I am still amazed that you weren’t late for mine.”
We almost were – I consider that day an epic save. Schedule-wise. It was my Mom’s funeral so there wasn’t that much left to save.
In our defense today – despite the following list, Sissy and I still managed to procure a lovely little metal sleigh full of flowers, a delicate china Santa (and I didn’t forget the remembrance stones from Simi) to make her partial resting place festive.
We the Irish have come a long way since packing our dead in ice, surrounding them with long-necked bottles of beer and displaying them in the living room as was done in the Scituate of the 1960′s. Thank God.
These days we’re all about the decorating, but even that has limits.
I myself have always been a gravesite fan of a huge floral horseshoe on an easel with a satin “Good Luck In The Next World!” etched ribbon in gold draped across, but I’ve only gotten away with that once. It was a Teamster funeral. You’d think my family would have a better sense of humor after all we’ve been through.
Oh the list. Well, it’s been a tough day here in the Keratsis camp. Trips to Target, the grocery, Walgreens, CVS , Sally Beauty Supply and something called Deals!
An unscheduled stop at Jiffy Lube, dodging (another) huge holiday bullet with a few hours in the Emergency Room (we are resigned to the sad fact that almost every holiday must be compressed to allow a trip to the ER), the fabulous gift of ten Maine lobsters (who arrived angrily lively and not at all steamed to a yuletide dead red), the desperate search for a vendor who would do the steaming, two trips to let Mom’s dog out and two visits to the cemetery.
Kids arriving at different times. Cabs, Uber and more hotel rooms.
The gifts, the sorting, the wrapping. Gale is in, with her family. Baby J, my kid, Nicole. Mitch, Amy, my godchildren. Scattered across the beach – everyone is here – and frantically trying to arrange meeting places and times so we can get this friggin’ sleigh off the ground. Everyone has roots here as well and so there are other people besides our core group that must be visited and wished a holly jolly.
Phones died mid-text as we overloaded our own power circuits trying to give and get information.
This day has been a year long.
Yes, we are late.
And now, so am I.
I wanted to get this one last blog out before my Christmas Eve missive, so this will end up being the shortest entry ever.
One year ago today, my sisters and I had taken over the small hospital waiting room and had set up a camp with pillows and blankets on the floor. I think my sisters were waiting for Mom’s decision about what she would do.
Me? I was just waiting for everything to miraculously get better and then we could all go home. Mom would laugh with us about how once again we’d managed to stay one step ahead of fate – like all good gypsies do.
But we haven’t gotten to that hour just yet, you and I. For now, it is just very early Christmas Eve.
I am where I was exactly one year ago to the very minute.
Moving forward obliviously – my Mom used to call that being “the happy fool” – convinced that this year – like every year – will be the best Christmas ever.
The food will be the tastiest. The gifts will be the giftiest. The music will be the…you get the idea.
I can’t help it.
I’m Eddie Hart’s granddaughter. I chase the perfect holiday.
This one won’t be it, of course.
But someone in the world has to be that happy fool. That ridiculously delusional holiday cheermeister.
Tonight, Gentle Readers, I am