I’d managed to beat the worst of the impending snowstorm last night, but not by much. Thankfully, the forecasts don’t expect any more snowstorms for the rest of the weekend. The memorial service doesn’t start for another two hours, but I’m already showered and dressed so I figure I’ll set the table for later.
I grab a bunch of paper plates from Gran’s pantry, and I can’t help but notice how they’re vibrating, but only because the hands that are holding them are trembling. Truth be told, I couldn’t get much sleep last night, and I guess I’m still quite a bit shaky from the near accident yesterday.
Just remembering the way I felt when my car swerved like that is giving me a serious case of goosebumps. How the hell would I have even explained flipping my car over or swerving into a pole to Gran, and on a day like this, no less? The fact that I almost crashed my car on my way to a memorial is ironic to say the least, and only makes me think of how fickle life can be.
I grumble as I set the stack of paper plates on the dining table right next to the pile of gorgeous porcelain china ones that Gran stubbornly insists on having out for the guests. I think it’s completely unnecessary, and will ultimately be a pain in both our asses, but all she keeps saying is special occasions call for special silverware.
In her defense, and even though I don’t want to admit it, I guess she is right. Even though I personally don’t think the guests deserve to eat off her valuable china—especially since the set had been one of her prize wedding gifts all those decades ago—but at the end of the day, it’s her china, her house, and the memory of her husband we’re celebrating. She has the final say, so I try to keep my reservations to myself and go along with it.
I look over the table and sigh at just how much food and silverware is all over it. I try not to think about how annoying it’s going to be to clean all of this up after hours and hours of forced conversation with our “guests” preceded by even more hours at the memorial service in the church.
I also try not to think about what it will be like when Danny and I see each other. I completely know what to expect from Jennifer so I’m sure there won’t be any surprises there. I still find it interesting that even though they’re both my half-siblings, I’ve never even for a moment thought of Jennifer as my sister. I can’t see myself calling or even thinking of her as ‘Jen’ the way everyone else does. Danny and I, on the other hand, had been close at one point in time, or at least I thought we had, but that’s obviously changed—drastically, might I add—and now my relationship with him is just like it is with his older sister; non-existent.
“The original Gallos,” they call themselves. Well, Jennifer does, anyway. I know she does it to spite me and my mother for “stealing” their father from them, never mind that he was my father, too.
Danny’s never explicitly said the phrase himself, at least not to my face, but he’s never exactly disagreed with her on the matter, either. Heck, I’m not sure he’s ever disagreed with her on anything—especially anything concerning the “second-hand Gallos”.
Whatever the case is between us, I just hope we can all be civil, if only for today. I really don’t want any drama whatsoever, especially not now that I’m contending with this thing going on with my stomach and the financial issues it’s posing. I have more than enough to worry about as it is. I definitely don’t need any more problems added into the mix.
I glance at my watch and it stares back at me, telling me it’s exactly 11:00AM—and also time for the memorial service to start. From the corner of my eye, I see a couple who I’m pretty sure are the last two people coming for the service trickling through the main entrance of the church just as the pastor motions for us to rise. They both nod at Gran and I in acknowledgment as they walk by us, offering a pair of sympathetic smiles just before taking their seats.
I look around and see that there are only about twenty or so people in attendance, including the priest. I can’t help but notice how small the gathering is. It’s considerably smaller than I’d expected it to be.
I’m kind of surprised that more people aren’t here considering the hundreds of people that had attended his funeral, but to be honest, I’m glad it turned out this way.
I also can’t help but notice that Danny and Jennifer aren’t here either, though considering everything that’s happened, I suppose I should have expected it. But, hey, I’m not complaining. Really, I’m not.
To be honest, I’m glad they’re not here. I can use as much peace of mind as I can get right now, and being around those two—especially Jennifer—would only serve to spike my blood pressure. And I sure as hell don’t need that. Not today. Not ever. But especially not today.
The service lasts just as long as I suspected it would. They play all his favorite songs and some of his own original works on the church organ and on his second favorite violin. He wanted to be buried with his first, and we’d honored his request at the funeral.
Toward the end, all of his friends each say a few touching words and I learn a little bit more about the great Sylvester Gallo through their reminiscing, although Mr. Dickson decides, as usual, to give one of his extra-long, presidential-wannabe-type speeches. He just keeps going on and on and on, and I can’t help but zone out after less than a minute of listening to him. It’s almost like a reflex at this point.
He does the same thing at pretty much every single event he attends—from funerals and memorial services, to weddings and children’ birthday parties. He’s one of those people who just really loves hearing himself talk. I’m sure of it. Even grandpa couldn’t stand it when he went on his many tedious, overzealous tangents.
I see a few people yawn intermittently, signaling that I’m not alone in my disdain for Mr. Dickinson’s unwanted word-marathon.
I absently look around the church again, eyeing all the figures haphazardly scattered across the wooden benches. There really isn’t anyone my age here. Not even close to it. Most attendees are grandpa’s former colleagues and friends.
I admit, it is kind of lonely with no one here I can really relate to, but I guess it’s okay. I’m just glad no one has shown up claiming to be his mistress or common-law wife like that disaster at the funeral last year.
She’d sworn up and down that her name was Felicity Gallo, formerly Felicity Truman before her supposed marriage to grandpa. I still have no idea if even the former had been her real name, seeing what a lying snake she obviously was, but we’ll just call her Felicity, anyway.
Felicity—a pretty, tall, and slender, almost model-esque thirty-two year old woman—had walked up to Gran, politely offered her condolences, and then ever so calmly proceeded to tell Gran that she was grandpa’s wife and had married him the year before, and therefore was legally entitled to all of his money and possessions. She even came lawyered up, walking side by side with a thirty-something year old man who looked much closer to her age than my grandpa ever could. I was more than willing to bet that they were fucking.
I’d been standing right next to Gran when it happened, and I almost couldn’t believe my ears. The next thing I knew, Gran swung at her, and ended up getting a real good grip on her hair, yanking it in a hundred different directions. Felicity was screaming, trying to get away from Gran’s unrelenting—and obviously very painful—hold on her.
Witnessing that had been one of the most shocking and out-of-this world things I’ve ever had the displeasure of seeing. A part of me still can’t even believe that it had actually gone down. Gran had been absolutely furious, and in her grief-driven rage almost ripped all the blonde hair follicles right out of Felicity’s scalp.
I’d never seen my grandmother so angry before, but it was completely understandable that she would be. She had been angry with and disappointed in herself for losing her composure in front of so many people, especially on a day that was supposed to be about mourning her late husband and finally putting him to rest.
I understand that she would be, but again, I couldn’t blame her. I don’t know what I would have done had I been in the same situation. Being faced with a woman making such outrageous and utterly disrespectful claims right after watching your life-long partner being lowered into the ground forever is more than anyone can bear, especially all in one day. I mean, Gran’s only human for crying out loud. Even the most patient and tolerant people have their breaking point.
And speaking of breaking points, I’m damn close to having one of my own if Mr. Dickinson doesn’t end his damn speech right this instant!
Thankfully, in her usual graceful and tactical way, Gran manages to “help” him wrap things up a lot faster than he would if he were left to his own whims.
Soon after, the service is over, and we all head back to Gran’s house.