Friday, September 16, 2011

The Road Trip, Part 13: Southern Hospitality? What's That?

I’m not crazy. Seriously, I’m not. I know this is going to sound crazy but please hear me out, guys. The time between preparing my mother’s funeral arrangements and when we buried her were equal parts tortuous and fun. Yes, I said fun.The hardest I’ve ever laughed in my life came during those days. I would say that I cried the hardest then, too, but that would be a lie. The hardest I cried was once I got back to campus and was alone with my grief in my dorm room every night.

During that week prior to the burial, I was surrounded by loving and generous people. Most of all, those bamas were funny. Reminiscing on the old days is always a riot and with such a diverse group of family and friends filling our house to capacity, the stories were constant and hilarious. I would go from crying over the loss of my mother to crying laughing at the fact that my brother’s friend was STILL rocking a fanny pack in 2004. (I tell you no lies here, people. He showed up at the house with a LEATHER fanny pack on and I have never laughed so hard in my life!)

Even with what seemed like a million people in our house, there was an overwhelming amount of food. Neighbors and friends made sure we didn’t have to lift a finger. There was a definitive presence from a supportive community. They either loved us or respected my mother enough to make sure that even though our appetite waned from grief, we wouldn’t have to go looking for food when we were inclined to eat.

This was not the case in Newport, Arkansas. I thought surely that as soon as the news of my grandfather’s death hit that little town, people would be coming to The House with aluminum platters of spaghetti and baked chicken. I just knew someone was going to bring over a fruit or pasta salad. This is the South. That’s what they do, right? Apparently not.

Every day leading up to the funeral, we had to go out and find food. We visited one of the two Chinese restaurants in town and ordered take-out from a place famous for their pork chops. I couldn’t wrap my mind around why my grieving family was forced to order Chinese take-out, between picking out a casket and putting together an obituary. Call me presumptuous but I was disappointed in these Southerners. Even after the wake, we had to go out to Long John Silver’s for dinner.

I couldn’t figure it out. My family is well known and respected in that town. What was the deal? I still don’t know but honestly, it pissed me off. My dad and his siblings were incredibly stressed. They were frazzled beyond measure. They were all shells of themselves, walking around like zombies, fumbling through the tasks that come along with burying a loved one. I had to constantly prod them to eat. I couldn’t stop thinking of how there was such an abundant amount of food around after my mother’s passing. Foraging for meals was never a concern added to our already muddled minds.

But my disappointment was about more than food. Back in Minneapolis there was a constant stream of people in the house coming to support the family. In Arkansas, I felt deserted by the community. Where was every one? Then they had the nerve to show up in numbers for the wake and treat it like a party? Oh yeah, I was too through with Newport.

No comments:

Post a Comment