I am a native in this world And think in it as a native thinks

Monday, May 26, 2014


Back in New York.

I didn't get home until 1 am; my luggage has yet to arrive. There was just too much to do. After the funeral Saturday afternoon, there was paperwork at the funeral home and dinner with Judy's friends. Yesterday morning my cousin Jay and his wife Janie and I spent a few hours at the house looking for her military discharge papers and sorting out the mail so the unpaid bills could be sent to the lawyer.

It was chaotic -- generations of family have lived in that house, and the knickknacks and papers and photos had settled in layers no archaeologist could unravel. There were letters my father wrote home to my grandmother from boot camp, pictures of me as a baby I'd never seen, thousands of old pictures of grandparents and aunts and uncles, mostly unidentified. There was no time to sort through it. I had to leave for the airport, so I grabbed pictures of Judy as a child I thought her friends would like to have, the bills, and some old letters and photos, and I stopped at the Walmart and bought a duffel bag to put them in, along with the folded flag from the funeral.

I left Graham an hour later than planned so I drove as fast as the speed limit allowed, only pulling over to the shoulder a couple of times so I could eat some sliced turkey I'd grabbed at the Walmart and drink some water. (That's when I took these pictures.)

There was a brief unplanned detour in downtown Fort Worth, but otherwise I made good time. I had just reached the point of starting to feel nervous that I'd missed the exit to head north to the airport, when I noticed a few raindrops on the windshield. I had exactly enough time to say, "Drat!" (or words to that effect) before I saw the exit and at the same instant the heavens opened. I could not see a thing. I could not find the windshield wipers. And I was merging into traffic with crazy Texas drivers, who weren't going to let a little thing like a monsoon keep them from exercising their God-given right to drive 90 miles an hour. Oh, I forgot to mention the hailstones.

After twenty or so minutes of seeing just how white my knuckles could get, I turned in the rental car, and after that it seemed that nothing could faze me. My flight cancelled? Sure. Rebooked on another flight leaving twenty minutes later from a different terminal? No problem. A seatmate with the delusion that each of the five vodka and tonics he consumed increased his charm quotient? Whatever. The precious duffel bag missing? They'll find it.

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