I had an interesting experience this weekend with my two children, and as I flesh this piece out you will hopefully empathize a bit with me here. To start with, my husband’s family lost an aunt a few days ago and we had to travel north towards St. Louis for the funeral. It was going to be a short ceremony so the hubs and I figured it would be fine to let the kids come. Other family members were going and they don’t get to see the kids much anyway, so what the heck, right?
Now, I don’t know how many of you out there have attended a funeral with children. But let me just break it down a bit for you here. My 9-year-old daughter had a thousand questions about it all, and my son was just wanting to know when it was over so he could talk again. In actuality, I was very proud of my children and how they behaved. I also thought it very intuitive of my daughter to be so inquisitive about the entire “death process.” Neither of my children showed timidity when it was our turn to step up and stand next to the casket. My son, who is 5, made a few loose comments and then just sat down in the front row and waited for the rest of us to do our thing. I don’t think he really understood what was going on, to be quite honest.
My daughter, on the other hand, knew exactly what was happening, Unfortunately, her life has already endured two funerals, both for her grandfathers, and they were under a year apart. So she has a better grasp of death, and all the ramifications it has on a person, after watching my husband and I go through those experiences. But this funeral was not like those, and she felt more open to ask questions and try to understand what this whole “bury the dead” entailed.
I chuckled a little bit to myself when I had to keep telling her not to touch her great-aunt. I mean, you don’t see that one every day! “Mom, there is a bug that keeps flying around on her face!” I told her just let it be and come sit down. “No, mom. I need to get it off.” At this point I was gently grabbing her arm, trying to tug her in my direction towards the seats. “Mom…” Oh Lord, here we go again. “Today’s April Fool’s Day, so are you sure this isn’t a prank?” If I could insert the “smack my head” emoji here, I totally would because that is exactly how I felt. I am pretty sure China heard her ask this question. Suddenly my mind blasted a picture of this lovely woman, who was resting peacefully in her casket, sit up and yell out “just kidding!” I guess that is what you expect when you take kids to things like this. You go in holding your breath that nothing odd or disrespectful is said, but that gets squashed the first five minutes you walk in the door.
Just when I thought I had pulled my daughter away, she was right back up there by the casket, examining every nook and cranny. Swiftly walking towards her I see her suddenly take one of the poor woman’s fingers and lift it up! Now I am almost running, in heels, towards my daughter while saying her name under my breath so it doesn’t echo throughout the room. I didn’t want to be harsh because I know she was just curious, but heaven help me if someone saw her do it. My husband saw it happen too, and he was closer to intervene. Luckily at this point, we finally had everyone sit down so we could start the service. Once we were graveside, my daughter then wanted to know about the pallbearers and how that all worked. Then it was investigating the final resting place and the ground around it. The questions never stopped and my husband and I tried to answer them as best we could.
In the grand scheme of things, it was a lovely ceremony and I have a feeling our aunt would have chuckled a bit at my daughter’s impertinence. You just never know what you are going to get when you have children with you. But I do know you have to just laugh it off and chuck it up as a good story to tell when she is older. Parenting is such an endeavor and so hard, but also so fun and rewarding. Stories like this remind me what fun children can be, and how innocent and beautiful their minds are compared to ours. The tarnish of reality and age have not set in on how they view the world, and I find myself a bit envious of it all.
After getting through the day’s events, I thought it appropriate to open a nice bottle of wine from my dad’s collection. I know he would have gotten a big kick out of the entire ordeal and all the questions my daughter asked yesterday. I have this warm feeling that both my dad and my father-in-law are chuckling together in heaven, basking in the wonder of their granddaughter.
My head was still spinning a bit from the deluge of funeral and death questions. I figured the wine I chose was going to be done Russian Roulette style. The day had sort of held that theme. I picked a 1990 Newton Cabernet Sauvignon from California. It was delicious, and I am still drinking on it today as I compose this piece.
For a wine that is 27 years old, it still holds up. But I think I need to see if other bottles are lurking around because it needs to be drunk. With notes of blackberry and vanilla, the wine smelled so good after I opened it. On the palate, the tannins mellowed out and had a slightly bitter taste, but in a good way. Something you would expect, perhaps, from a wine like this. The only thing I found lacking was the taste finished very short, so that is probably why it needs to be drunk now.
It still amazes me how wine holds up after so many years, kind of like parents. We get through the battles and have a few scars. But in the end, we tend to mellow out and enjoy the wonders life has to offer. Whatever life brings your way, I hope you can at least enjoy the moment, perhaps with a glass of your favorite wine.
Until next time,