I'm back in Minneapolis throwing a surprise retirement party for my dad today. For 35 years, he worked for Honeywell, Inc, and last week he worked officially at Honeywell for the last time. He has already received his first retirement check and plans to have a copy of the check framed. Excited isn't a strong enough adjective to describe my dad's mood, lately.
Family and friends have traveled from miles around to come celebrate this next chapter in my dad's life. You can't help but get excited at the possibilities that retirement will bring for him. He plans to build a house near my grandfather's in Arkansas. No, I don't mean have builders come and do it... I mean, he and his band of brothers will build a house with their own hands. They're an unusually handy bunch of men, so I have no doubt the goal will be accomplished and we'll throw another party. This time, a house warming.
The house is full of guests, with more to come, so much so that I haven't slept in my own room. My uncle from Arkansas is sleeping in the bedroom with the 2Pac and Allen Iverson posters everywhere, while I sleep on a cot in the living room. I don't mind at all but it reminds me of this very day five years ago, a day sometimes I wish I could forget.
June 6, 2004 is the day we buried my mother in Glen Alan, MS. We had two funeral services for her. One in Minneapolis and one in Mississippi. Much of our family came to stay with us during the time of the funeral in Minneapolis. I gladly offered up my bedroom to my aunt and uncle. I found some comfort in sleeping on a pallet in the living room with my cousins. I barely wanted to go upstairs and walk past the bedroom where the death angel came to claim my mom.
I couldn't avoid it long as I was given the task of pickng out her undergarments to send to Estes Funeral Home. I tried to make it quick but soon found myself sobbing on the floor in a ball of grief. It seemed like the strangest things set me off.
My cousins went around to newspaper dispensers in the city to collect the day's paper with my mother's obituary in it. I was lying on my little pallet of comfort when I heard someone come in and place the papers on the table. My heart started racing and my breathing got eratic. All I heard in my mind was, "The newspaper don't lie. The newspaper don't lie." I shot up off the floor and ran to the bathroom. I tried to muffle my cries but soon my cousins were at the door, knocking, and begging for me to open it. They were afraid I would faint and hit my head but I was just concerned with my dad not waking up to my tears.
I don't see any irony in celebrating my dad's retirement on the 5-year anniversary of my mother's internment but it has suddenly swept in a wave of emotions that I'd rather suppress. I don't want to feel like this today. I don't want to miss her this much today. Sarah, no tears today.