Despite the fact that I didn't get to see Sis in person before she died, I got to talk to her on Skype now and again, while she was capable of moving around the house. She had trouble seeing, due to cataracts "not worth removing" (so she said... she hated hospitals and procedures), but we got to talk for a while. I'm a bit disappointed that we were so close to getting to see her again and just missing, she did pick a convenient time to go. Arno had been telling me that if she died, he would send me back to the States for the funeral, no matter when it happened. This was just after our Christmas visit that he decided this. My response was, no, no, it's not THAT important that I be there... But as things turned out, she timed her exit in such a way that we could be present. Mom was able to arrange things so that almost all of the rest of the family in New Mexico could attend, and thus Arno got to meet the Wilson side of the family.
Unfortunately, it was incredibly windy during the service. Arno and I were assigned the duty to pass around bunches of flowers to the attendees who wished to place them on the grave, as well as to put flowers on teh graves of my grandparents and other relatives also buried in the cemetary, something Sis and Mom's cousin Patty traditionally did every Memorial Day. Most of the graves had anchored vases we could put the flowers in, but I think most of them were spread across the cemetary by the time we left, due to the high wind.
After the service, we went to a reception at the Ranch Kitchen (which served enchiladas and pasta). Mom had a bunch of old family photos from Sis and her brothers and other family membersm, which she layed out for people to take or put their names down if they wanted copies of them. Remember the time when you had to have a big clunky photo-copying device in order to photograph a photo in order to copy it? Or that old photos would stick together and get ruined? Yay for technology!
We followed this up a couple hours later with dinner at Don Diego's (my favorite restaurant... for a couple years there was one in Flagstaff, which my family visited twice weekly). My parents were both raised on New Mexican food, which is a little different than Mexican food in other places (it's different everywhere... that's why things are termed Tex-Mex and Mexicali...). New Mexican food is typically served "wet," which means slathered in green chile... and no place does green chile like New Mexico! Lovely, lovely Hatch chiles... ummmnomnomnom.... but I digress. New Mex also does sopapillas in the correct manner, meaning they're a half moon about the size of your head, and they also serve them stuffed (and of course, drowned in green chile). I am oft disappointed at places which serve tiny, hard, square "sopapillas" which don't measure up to New Mexico's standards. Unfortunately, having eaten at the Ranch Kitchen earlier, following up with anotehr heavy meal at Don Diego's wasn't the best of ideas... but I wasn't going to let a little thing like stomach capacity stop me from eating a full plate of tacos, tortillas, and a sopapilla with honey... but my stomach wasn't exactly fond of me later, either.
Oh, and following this up, the family all went to hang out at a bar. Lucky I don't drink! But I did get to catch up withe my cousin Ashley who I haven't seen in years and years. Ashley, and another cousin, Dante, are about the only cousins I have in my own age range... I got to see both of them at the memorial service and reception, got to introduce Arno to them, talked about the Netherlands and Dutch and so on... so in all, we had a nice little family gathering, courtesy of Sis.
Some people, mostly Dutch, will be confused by now. "What is tumbleweed, they will ask. Tumbleweeds are balls of dead twigs that roll accross the open planes in the wind. The roads have fences around them that catch this tumbleweed, and turns it from a traffic hazzard into a fire hazzard:
The cause for being there was sad, of course: Sis' funeral. I have to admit that the funeral service was a suprise to me. This is not how we do things in The Netherlands at all! In The Netherlands, when somebody dies we all go to the funeral home a few days later, where we sit in a hall and listen to some music that reminds us of the person. Then we leave, and usually the remains are cremated. Sis was cremated without much ado, however, and the actual service happened much later, standing outside (in the wind) as the urn was burried. I assume that this is because getting everyone together for a funeral in the American South-West is a bit more involved than in The Netherlands.
I met Beedoo!'s family, none of whome ate me, so I was off to a good start. I hope I did not make too strange an impression. I'm kind of an unusual person and not particularly good with socializing. And I'm sure everyone took great pains not to be offended by my different political leanings. ;)
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