Taking a road trip with just adults is vastly different from packing up the fam damily and pounding the pavement. I can almost enjoy a car trip with adults. We can talk openly about all types of subjects without spelling out the words or censoring ourselves, we can eat anything and everything we want without having to share with moochers, and most of all we can sit and do absolutely NOTHING if we choose. Never underestimate the beauty of silence.
Despite the fact that the trip to Charlotte, NC was emotionally grueling, I managed to take time to reflect on my own life and how lucky I am. As Jeff drove, and my friend Shelly sat up front, I nodded off in the back seat and felt truly blessed to have a husband who was willing to pack up on an hours notice and drive me and my friend for 8 hours. I am married to a saint. Remind me about this when I am ready to kick his ass for letting the kids color with sharpies or when he lets them eat bright, hot pink frosted cupcakes at a party while wearing a new Baby Lulu outfit.
There were plenty of observations made along this trip. I noticed that the bathrooms at McDonald's tend to be cleaner than those in gas stations. I learned (from our waitress) that Cracker Barrel is a COUNTRY RESTAURANT and therefore they do not have salsa for the baked potato. I ate way too much candy from the gift shop at the aforementioned Cracker Barrel, and getting your period in white capri pants is never a good thing. I felt like Cathy Rigby in one of those 1980's television commercials- for Stay free maxi-pads, she wore a white leotard and did gymnastics, I wore white slacks without the coverage of Stay Free Maxi Pads and I regret that decision.
I listened to stories about Wende's dad and I added a few of my own. I saw the power of humor even in the saddest of times. I listened as Harvey, one of Stu's poker buddies told a story that made us all cry tears of laughter and tears of sadness all at the same time. Apparently Harvey, Stu and several of the "guys" would sing tv commercial jingles, theme songs and other show tunes while playing poker. They loved the weekly game and when betting they had a parody to the tune of "three coins in a fountain"- they used to harmonize, Three Dimes and a Quarter to the same tune. It was a standard bet and every time the call was three dimes and a quarter they sang it as such. At the time of Stu's memorial service, Harvey took the Lubavitch Rabbi aside and explained this story. Harvey asked the Rabbi if would be okay to toss three dimes and a quarter in with the dirt when they buried their beloved buddy. The Rabbi saw no harm in their gesture and as they covered the coffin with soil, each of the Poker Pals tossed in Three Dimes and Quarter. Now he is buried with three dimes and a quarter and even though his wife is completely saddened, this story helped her get through the first night of the Shiva. How can you not think about this sincere act of kindness and humor?
I observed grief in the raw. I saw the power of a happy 50 year marriage and the devastation of the loss of a loved one. There were people there to comfort and console but it was gut wrenching and painful to watch. I laughed, I cried, and most of all I got re-connected with what is really important to me. I treasure my friends and family and I have a new found respect for my religion. I got a dose of Judaism and felt spiritually a part of the service. While I wish I could have stayed longer to help my friend, Wende, I know that the power of prayer and her strength will help more than my presence.
I think this may be the heaviest blog post I have ever written so if you came here today to laugh with me or laugh at me, I am sorry. Everyone needs a reality check once in a while. So hug your spouse and kids a little tighter tonight, and I am sure within in a few hours my kids will destroy something, spill and stain something or embarrass me in some way.
Rest in Peace Stu, you will be missed by everyone who have the privilege of knowing you.
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