Day 273 of 366 Blog Challenge 2012

Hello all

Today Geoff and I are off adventuring. Our son and his wife have given us matinee tickets for our birthdays to see the theatre production: Jersey Boys.  After that, we are meeting up with a friend and having dinner with him at Southbank (along our Brisbane River) before viewing the fireworks for Riverfire: our Spring Festival in Brisbane. 

So folks, it will be lovely but it will be busy busy busy so I thought it would be a good idea to share a story with you that I found when I was cleaning up my emails yesterday. It was written in 2007 when we went to the same holiday spot where we spent our honeymoon in 1971 only this time it was for a funeral.

I wrote this email to some of my friends when I returned from our few days away. It tells the disastrous but funny story of the events of the day of the funeral and beyond. I have added some bits to make things clearer.

August 2007

“Hi all

For those who are not aware, I went to Hervey Bay on Friday for a family funeral – Geoff’s sister’s husband (Peter) who had been ill for some time.

The beautiful Hervey Bay

Geoff and I had booked a Motel where we had spent our honeymoon (36 yrs ago next week) and we thought this was pretty cool until two girls from work told me it was an awful place to stay (in their experience).  We decided to stay there anyway because of our anniversary.

Things did not bode well when we had to drive five hours through pouring rain all the way, only to arrive at Hervey Bay later than expected and find that weather worse there: hurricane conditions prevailed and as we drove the 15 mins to the other side of the Bay we found that our Motel was blocked off due to fallen trees and electricity lines. There was no way we could book in; we had planned to change out of our rough travelling clothes there.

We were now beginning to panic as the time of the funeral was drawing near. With the clock ticking, we were forced to drive all the way back to the Crematorium (battling cyclonic winds) only to get soaking wet when we tried to get our good clothes out of the car and find a place to change. It was turning into a nightmare.

Finally, after searching for help, the lady at the Funeral Home allowed us to use the disabled toilet to change.  As the electricity had been cut off, we found we had to change in almost total darkness.

Let me add at this point that, due to more than a little vanity and a desire to impress relatives not seen for some time, I had washed and styled my hair beautifully upon leaving home.  I also had makeup and jewellery and clothes at the ready so I could get beautified at the Motel, at my leisure, whilst eating ‘gourmet’ chicken sandwiches make by Geoff the night before.

Weelll …. my plan was not exactly working. My hair, totally ruined by the rain into a untidy curly mass, was awful.  Makeup?  How?  In the darkness?  I tried opening the toilet door to let light in whilst placing my backside on the side of the door to keep it open – it kept closing due to the cyclonic wind – whilst putting on mascara at the same time.  Not good.  If I removed my ‘bum’ for a moment, it would close!

Jewellery?  Where was it anyway?  Not to be found. I was going to have to be grateful to be  wearing clothes let alone make up and jewellery.  Not one person was going to be impressed by my appearance that day!

But, none of these things compared to the moment, on the way back from the Motel disaster site, when I reached over into the back seat to take comfort in our ‘gourmet’ chicken sandwiches (we were hungry as it was lunchtime) and opened the lid of the sandwich container.

Perhaps I was in shock because what I saw in the container did not resemble sandwiches. No, in fact I had come face to face with something alien and it took a few seconds for my brain to compute. There in the long container were:

mushrooms: a bit like this only in a single row

TWO ROWS OF BUTTON MUSHROOMS ALL LINED UP LIKE SOLDIERS ON THEIR FEET, STARING AT ME WITH BLANK FACES! 

I gasped. ‘What’s this?!’ I said out loud. Because Geoff was driving through the cyclone, he couldn’t take his eyes off the road but I was in such hysterics I couldn’t tell him what I had found. He just kept driving wondering what was going on.

We had packed the wrong container!  The ‘gourmet’ chicken sandwiches were still at home in the fridge.  The mushrooms, in exactly the same container, were in my hot little hand!

At this point, tears poured down my face – tears of laughter that is.  The whole thing was so ridiculous that there was nothing else to do but laugh.  Geoff just shook his head whilst I laughed and cried. Eventually, I got out the words he needed to hear.  Oh, how disappointing. Wouldn’t anything go right with this Hervey Bay. It was becoming a repeat of our Wedding Night Fiasco (see my blog The Wedding Night Fiasco).

Well, the funeral went well if you consider these things: no electricity meant the body could not be cremated, no nice music to play and no hot tea or coffee afterwards in the function room.  Despite all this, some things were going well.

Geoff, who had had a  strained relationship with a family member for many years had literally bumped into him beforehand when coming from the disabled toilet cum change room, and had put out his hand in a firm handshake and said, “Hello … and how are you going?”  Finally, a reconciliation!

A rain soaked funeral

Also, due to distance we had not spent much time together with Geoff’s family in almost 12 years and so the time we spent with them was wonderful as so many in the family also met for the first time in years, shared the afternoon together at Shirley’s house with the fireplace crackling whilst the wind howled and the rain poured down outside.  It was truly a  special time.

Two large tables of family shared dinner that night – both families intermingling at the Burrum Heads Tavern in the middle of nowhere but who cared?  On Saturday morning there was more hugging and kissing as goodbyes were said and promises of keeping in touch made.

Do you know, I am so grateful for this special time.  And do you know what?  We did get to our Motel eventually when the line was cleared.  I am not sure what those girls were talking about but there was nothing wrong with the Motel. Being at our “honeymoon hotel” had enabled me to be grateful for 36 years of marriage to this man  that I had chosen.

I thought of  all our tough times and as we reminisced about our honeymoon together, I became aware that God had indeed given me the ‘right’ person but lately I was struggling to know this truth.  We had both changed and grown so much.

And as I write, there are tears in my eyes because I realise that I needed to know that we have come through the fire and we are okay. Coming to this place of our honeymoon had reminded us of the need to persevere in our marriage when things get tough.

Also, all that trying to impress the people I had not seen for some time was no longer important. The important things are family and taking the time, despite cyclones and mushrooms instead of sandwiches, to be together on a sad occasion.

Sharing this tale has shown me just what a special time it can be when a loved one passes away, for mingled with the sadness God often brings joy.”

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