leave your body at the door

I had to leave town unexpectedly last Tuesday.  My grandma, my mother’s mother, was very ill. According to everyone who saw her, she was not going to last much longer. So, my mom, my sister and I flew up to Michigan to say good-bye.

Well, in typical mid-western passive-aggressive fashion, she got better right after we arrived.  I’m not complaining.  I hope she lives forever. But, it did make for a stressful flight up there.

I love you grandma.

Adding to that stress was my grandfather. Normally, someone who has been dead for over 30 years shouldn’t be cause for much concern. But, this is my family we are talking about.

See, my grandfather was cremated. Half of his ashes were scattered around the property of the house that grandpa and grandma built together. The other half was put in a brass urn that stands eight inches tall and about five inches across.  His urn was displayed on the fireplace hearth of my mom’s house. When she moved, he went to my sister’s and rested on her hearth.  When my sister moved, he was passed on to me, because at that time, I had the fireplace.

Grandma, being a Seventh Day Adventist, does not believe in cremation and wishes to be buried. As some sort of compromise, the urn containing grandpa’s ashes is to be buried with her.

You see where this is going, don’t you?

Yes. I had to fly to Michigan with grandpa in my carry-on.

Surprisingly enough, I’ve never flown with human remains in my luggage before, so I didn’t know what to expect. I did have the presence of mind while booking my plane ticket to ask what would be required to get grandpa on the plane. After a short pause, I was told that all I would need is his death certificate and/or cremation certificate.  By some miracle, my mom had both of these pieces of paper and scanned them then emailed them to me.

I get to the airport, put my purse and shoes in a bin at the security station and lay my carry-on bag on the belt to be x-rayed.  With my boarding pass in one hand and grandpa’s paperwork in the other, I walk through the scanner.  On the other side, I display my best non-threatening smile (minimal teeth, maximum dimples) and get ready to explain that the large brass cube in my bag will not explode.

The TSA agent took one look at my bag on the monitor, yawned, and sent it on its way without a word.

My first thought was, “Are you kidding me? My grandmother’s slightly soggy diaper was treated like a pound of C4 explosive by the TSA, but a heavy, metal box doesn’t get a second glance?” Maybe it’s common to travel with dead relatives these days.

My second thought was, “This is going to make a really boring blog post.” I wrote the post anyway.  Sorry.

Well, I’d rather have a boring blog post than get my family on CNN.  Again.

Grandpa was a cop. He could have shown those TSA whippersnappers a thing or twenty.

One housekeeping note: My WordPress blog reader suddenly doesn’t want to display any of the WP blogs that I subscribe to. Yesterday evening, I went through and checked to get email updates whenever any of you post from now on, however, I have no way to know if you posted while I was out last week. I want to try to catch up on my blog reading, but I don’t know if it will be possible.  If you posted anything particularly brilliant and/or hilarious in the past six days please include a link in the comments and I’ll be sure to check it out.  Thank you.

 

Flying

I love going fast.  In a car, boat, plane, doesn’t matter.  I especially love roller-coasters.  The forward momentum plus the looping and diving are as close as I can come to feeling like I’m flying.  And even more than going fast, I love feeling like I’m flying.  I’ve dreamt that I can fly for as long as I can remember.  I fly in just about every dream I have.  Flying when I’m dreaming is as normal as walking when I’m awake.  So, its only natural that I would try to find an analog to that feeling while I am awake.  Roller coasters will do for now, but I’d really love to go hand gliding.  Either that or take ride in one of those things that look like a go-cart with a big fan on the back and a parachute overhead.  That looks super fun, too.  “What about sky diving?” you may ask.  Well, that does not look anything like flying to me.  That looks like plummeting through the sky at skin ripping speeds with an uncomfortably high chance that the trip will end in a bone liquefying collision with the Earth.  Nuh, uh.  Flying means that you have the option of traveling upward as well as downward during any point in your trip.  The only option in sky diving is down, rapidly.  And that, to me, misses the whole point of flying.  I want to exist in another elevation.  To travel along the curvature of the Earth at a height that I wasn’t designed to travel.  I don’t even have to be that high.  To cruise just above the tree-tops, maybe reaching down and letting my hand brush across the leaves, that would be heaven.  I’ve read somewhere that some birds seem to fly for no other reason than just because they can.  Well, of course they do!  Land-locked animals do the same.  Horses, dogs, sheep, children, sometimes they all run for no reason but to go fast.  It makes you feel alive, doing something only for the pure joy it brings.  That’s probably what my dreams have been trying to tell me all these years.  I need to pursue a life full of simple joy.  A life with the wind in my hair.