I had to roll solo for this trip to Kansas City. G would usually accompany when I hit the road, but he wasn't feeling it this time. Mainly because it involved going to a funeral. He was okay until he heard that. Even the thought of seeing his little cousins wasn't enough to entice him. Maybe if we hadn't just been to one earlier this summer, he would have felt differently. Two funerals in such a short time frame can be hard on us adults so I can imagine how it is on a child.
I really didn't know what to expect prior to heading to KC. I didn't bother to get an official agenda from anyone so I had no idea what the plans were for the weekend. Come to find out from Deitra that there really wasn't an official agenda. Aside from the wake and the funeral of course. Other than that, everyone was just playing it by ear. Even though we had a plethora of family in town for the service, it really wasn't a family reunion. It just seemed like it since many of us hadn't seen each other in years.
One of the first stops I made that Friday (after waking up at Earl's then getting a PHAT homemade french toast breakfast at Deitra's house that put Waffle House to shame) was to Aunt Ceil's. It felt very surreal. I just expected Aunt Ceil to be there when I walked in since it had been so commonplace for so long. Her not being there created a void I felt as soon as I entered. Fortunately, there was something unexpected to help fill that void.
Aunt Ceil had a bookshelf full of an assortment of porcelain angels. Just about every kind you could think of. I don't know how, but I had never noticed it until then. I was promptly informed that I was supposed to choose one to take home with me. I would have thought that they should have stayed there to help preserve the essence of Aunt Ceil's home. However, Aunt Lish pointed out something I never thought of: why do you think she collected them all those years? Aunt Ceil wanted us to have them when she left. It was a piece of her. I was more than happy to select one as I thought of that.
The funeral was held in a different church other than Allen Chapel AME where Aunt Ceil and several of our family had been members. Although it would have been very appropriate to have it at Allen Chapel, there's no way that location could have held all the visitors that showed up. I don't think it mattered where the services would have been held as far as air conditioning was concerned though. It was 100 degrees that day if it was 50. The A/C could have been set on the lowest setting and it wasn't enough to keep the place cool. Being able to see all that family in one place in one time showing respect for Aunt Ceil helped to take our mind off the temperature.
We adjourned to the local Masonic Hall for dinner/lunch following the internment (which in itself was interesting because I didn't even realize that Aunt Ceil would be buried so close to Grandpa Turner until Dad pointed out his marker). That's where the fellowshipping got a little more relaxed. The smiles and photos were flowing more freely as everyone got reacquainted with one another. Once more, the heat tried to thwart us. It was also an older building so the central air couldn't quite keep up with all of us. I came prepared though. My suitcase was in the car. Soon as we hit the new location, I changed out of the suit jacket into a much cooler polo. Not that it mattered a whole lot, but every little bit counted.
It would be difficult to pick out one moment of the weekend that was the true highlight. However, the one that does come to mind was the final evening at Aunt Ceil's. Although we all had a lot of different family to see throughout the course of the weekend everyone eventually ended up at Aunt Ceil's that Saturday night. I tried to wait until it was a little later so it would have cooled off a little. It didn't make a whole lot of difference. The heat was still so thick it felt like you could bite the air. I fought thru it though. I snapped pictures left and right while sweat oozed from every pore.
I re-met so much family that it was hard to keep track of everyone. There was my cousin Cindy who I found out also lives in the Dallas area (so now I have another connection when I go down there to visit). Remember my cousin Stephanie who I told you is the drummer for Kid Rock? No, she couldn't make it, but her mom was there. I realized that I have a lot more family in Minneapolis than I ever knew. But the best part of all the family there was I was able to get a picture of Mom and ALL of her siblings complete with Grandma. There was no question that it was going to get the cover page of my photo album you can see at Aunt Ceil's Homecoming and Reunion.
It was probably for the best that G didn't ultimately make the trip me. I had checked the forecast before I left but even I wasn't expecting to feel as hot as it got. He was already struggling with asthma problems in the Iowa weather so I could just imagine how he would have been in the climate we encountered. I, on the other hand, didn't mind battling the weather for that occasion. The devil may have tried his best to make us miserable, but we weren't having it. And I know that Aunt Ceil was looking down on us smiling as she saw all of her "babies" gathered in one place to remember her.