Tuesday, September 06, 2011

The Sun Sets on a Sea of Red

As some of you know, my big brother passed away last Tuesday. It was shocking, surreal, and somewhat of a relief. He was in so much pain, but he went so fast.

Cancer is a bitch.

Yesterday, we had his funeral. At his request, we wore casual and Chiefs apparel. He was a HUGE Chiefs fan. So much, that the Chiefs organization sent an autographed football for us to put in the casket with him. I'm not a die hard Chiefs fan, but acts like this could make me one.

Even though Mom and the Stepdad are divorced, the kids still look to the Stepdads family as our own. When our own father passed away, they accepted us as one of their own. Papa C has been more of a father to me that my own bio-dad. My own brother's have grown to be honorable men and devoted fathers. I credit this to the influence of Papa C and his family. However, Papa C remarried a guano-psychotic woman, and she always tries to make things about her. Before the funeral, she called my mother in an attempt to discourage us from going. We went anyway. The rest of the family was apprised of the phone call, appalled by it, and I trust they will deal with her in their own way.

That being said, big brother's funeral was one of the most unusual I have been to. It wasn't because of the Chiefs colors either. That part was actually cool to see.

So, everyone files in to building for the viewing. I will admit, I didn't get a good look at brother. His wasted, cancer-ridden frail body is not how I want to remember him. Instead, I caught up with family, exchanged hugs, stories.

When the service part began, we seated. Because so many people showed up, the funeral directors had to pull out all of their folding chairs. They were the Gestapo of funeral directors, barking out orders to well-wishers. "Go sit there!" "Don't stand there!" "No drinks allowed inside!"

At the beginning, various country songs played and we just sat there and listened. Country music wasn't Big Brother's cup of tea (he's more a Bob Seger kinda guy), so I guessed the wife and daughters picked the tunes out that they felt best reflected their own personal relationships with Big Brother. After a handful of song, a family friend who happened to be a Baptist minister (Big Brother is RLDS) got up and spoke his little sermon, which was a little disjointed because he sounded like Forest Gump ate up with religion. He then announced that he wanted to sing one verse from an old song he knew.

Five verses later, he finishes, arms waving around in the air, sounding like Hank Williams Sr on a bad acid trip. My cousins are sitting a few aisles away and are trying not to bust out laughing. I imagine Big Brother would have had a chuckle as well. We listen to another song. An open invitation is extended to anyone who wants to say a few words. One of the cousins is the only one put together enough to actually articulate anything, so he speaks. I liked his remarks best of all.

After the service, the funeral directors kick us outside and direct us to go to the back of the building for the procession, which consisted of the pallbearers carrying the coffin ten feet to the car, which would transport Big Brother to his final resting place 100 feet away. While we wait, about 25% of the well-wishers, in what could only be described as a tribute laden with heavy irony, light up cigarettes.

Big Brother happened to die from lung cancer, by the way. He smoked like a chimney.

Some words are given at the grave site, and we are dismissed. Redneck Brother and myself linger and talk to Papa C and Big Brother #2, rehashing funny family stories. Guano-Psychotic lingers nearby, ready to pee on Papa C's leg at a moment's notice. I make sure to cast "that look" at her a couple times. I usually reserve "that look" for my most idiot of patients.

We left, armed with current numbers and promises to gather for things besides a funeral.

So now, I sit here and reflect on the family. My heart goes out to his two daughters for I know what it is to lose your father as such a young age. My heart goes out to his wife, who is barely hanging onto sanity by a thread. I ache for Papa C, for no parent should have to bury a child. I hurt for my brothers, both bio and step, because there is a special bond between brothers that I cannot even begin to comprehend.

So life moves forward, never to forget those we lose along the way.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Tales From the Treadmill

So, I started going back to the gym. It's stupid to pay for a membership and not use it.

Out of all gym activities, I prefer swimming the best. It's a great workout, it's quiet, and I can think while I am cutting through the water. And, because I go late at night, the pool is almost deserted.

Of course, the trade off for going to the gym late at night is the fact that some very strange people can be found there at that hour. What does that say about me?

So there I am, trying to master the butterfly technique, which is a lot more complicated than it looks. You're body is doing two different things at once: a dolphin kick, and a "pull" with the up body. Michael Phelps makes it look so damn simple. At any rate, I'd get halfway down the pool, thinking I got the hang of it, and then try to increase my speed. Somehow, I'd lose my rhythm, and then look like I'm drowning and have to stop. Good thing there isn't a lifeguard, they would have mistaken me for drowning. THAT would have been awkward.

Back to strange people....

So, as I am plugging away, there are three people in the hot tub. A fluffy woman in what looks like a t-shirt and panties, talking to two guys who don't speak much English. She keeps going on about how smart she is. "I'm smart. I mean, I'm really smart. I was going to go to law school, I'm that smart."

Methinks that if you are trying to convince two strange men of your intelligence, you are probably anything but. Intelligent women don't have to announce it. People pretty much figure that out on their own.

There was another guy in the pool with me. A fluffy ginger who was standing in the pool, watching the tvs at the cardio station, and not doing much in terms of exercise. I'm guessing he was with Smart Lady. She got out of the hot tub, in her t-shirt and panties glory, and chastised him for not wearing a t-shirt. In a swimming pool. He grumbled something about it being swimming pool and got out, going to the men's locker room because the better half was apparently done in the hot tub.

I also spied, with my little gym eye:

- A guy working out while decked out in Real Tree camo clothes. Maybe he didn't want to be seen. He ducked into the steam room while I was floundering in the water.
- A meathead lifting weights and preening before the mirror. I always chuckled at the guys who did this. Like they were waiting for a muscle to bulge out while lifting that 10 lb weight. Finally! Affirmation that all those muscle-building protein shakes are paying off!

Sadly, the lady toting her bible was curiously absent. I've seen her a couple times, meandering around the gym with her little bible. Sometimes, she walks on the treadmill while reading it. I have no problems with people reading the bible. However, she likes to stop and read it to others. Other gym patrons are also aware of this lady, and they scatter when she hovers near.

My new obsession is obtaining a waterproof MP3 player. They exist. And I wouod much rather do laps listening to Kid Rock than of stupid people in the hot tub.