We finally buried my grandfather last weekend.  Don’t worry…he was cremated.  We haven’t just had him sitting around since December.  After spending several months in his home of worship, Church of the Saviour, he finally made his way back to his childhood home in Genesee, Pennsylvania to lie beside his parents and wife, among  many other ancestors.

And just like any great Seinfeld episode, the weekend was filled with a cast of characters, a lot of dry humor, and some new one-liners.

Let’s just say our last minute decision to remove my grandfather’s remains from the plastic bag that was included in the urn was not only ‘green’ but a moment that bordered on strange.  Just after my Uncle Tom gently placed Grandpa in the ground, my brother whispered to me, “Do you think we should take him out of the plastic bag?”  My response was, “Hmmm…really?  I guess it would get him back to the Earth more quickly.”  At which point we had a family huddle and decided it was the best decision.   Who wants to be in plastic anyway? 

It was a perfectly beautiful day. Truly it could not have been more perfect.  It was warm, sunny, and BREEZY.  So imagine once we made our ‘no baggie’ decision, what we were faced with.  A little of grandpa blowing in the wind.  However, Nate’s process and execution were perfect.   We all felt better about it in the end.

As we were tying up loose ends with the gravestone company, the only question my father asked was, “Do you have a business card?”  Any enterprising monument provider in a town of 300 jumped at the chance with an eager reply, “Of course.”  With one simple hand motion, my father handed it off to me with a “Here ya’ go” comment.   

There is only one plot left inbetween my grandparents and great grandparents.  My father won the lottery years ago among his siblings (although I am not sure there was much of a contest) and he has dibs on the slice of Earth.  This particular cemetery, which overlooks the rolling hills of New York and Pennsylvania, along the Genesee River, contains nearly every ancestor on both sides of the family tree.   As we walked along the rows of Reed-Rowe-Daily headstones, my father and uncles could recall the stories of their family lineage. 

So after my dad handed me the gravestone pamphlet, we were assured a return to Genesee someday.  I hope not too soon.  However, we decided against the heart-shaped pink headstone and the garden bench.  Instead, we will likely opt for a simple military plaque so that my father can proudly outrank his father next to him. 

Note:  If you are planning to visit a loved one in a cemetary remember to bring a good wire scrub brush and bleach.  We spent a fair amount of time cleaning headstones.  I think it is a sign of respect that the deceased are still cared for, and more importantly remembered.

If you haven’t had them before, you are missing out on one of those simple pleasures in life. In fact, it is worth a trip to Wellsville, New York just to indulge in a few hot dogs.  We ate Texas Hots for lunch, dinner, and then lunch the next day.  My grandfather’s Will specified we eat there as a family upon arriving.  He probably suspected we would dine there for all meals considering there are few other options. 

Apparently, little about the diner has changed since my father and his siblings were kids…not even the owners.  The recipe is still highly guarded.  The booths stacked closely together.  The juke boxes don’t even look like they have been updated.

For some reason, we seem to take over hotel lobbies wherever we go.  No other hotel guest has a chance once the Rowe Family descends upon a location.  This trip was no exception.  The hotel lobby became our living room.  In fact, we had a taste testing of micro breweries one night.  Another evening brought out bins of memorabilia in the form of old love letters to/from my grandparents, my great grandfather’s Methodist church registries, and old photo albums. 

Unfortunately, another family was in town for a funeral as well.  Good thing they didn’t need the hotel lobby!  Regardless, we became friends under sad circumstances.

And what happened on Saturday night was simply divine intervention.  After the reception, we met back in the lobby.  A well-known singer, songwriter from the area, Fred McCarty, who had lost his mother, treated us to an impromptu concert.  For a lack of a better explanation…it was unforgettable.

Fred whipped out his binders of lyrics, asked us for requests, and proceeded to play for two hours.  We were singing along, and before we knew it other hotel guests had joined us.  Fred played everything from John Denver to Buddy Holly.  There couldn’t have been a better way to bottle cap the weekend.   

Our family isn’t perfect.  We have our flaws.  We have our imperfections and issues.  However, WE ARE FAMILY.  With all the dysfunction, we still manage to have one heck of a time. 

I believe I felt the presence of my grandparents, along with Caroline.  There isn’t a doubt in my mind that they would have enjoyed every minute of us together.  May they now finally rest in peace together.

3 Responses to “a ‘could have been’ seinfeld episode”

  1. Father David Says:

    Tiffany, I hope you will dispose of me in Genesee, PA, not Genessee, PA.

    Please correct this because I don’t want to miss it.

  2. Carlton Lee Reed Says:

    Great fairwell, I miss my Uncle Gordon as well. Many ALOHA’s and much MAHALO for the conversations we did have.

  3. Grandma Jean Says:

    Loved your description of the days spent in GENESEE. Some things never change!

    My fairwell to a special gentleman and friend. He was one of a kind and may he now be at peace with those he loves!

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