So the story goes like this….Papa died. We rented an expensive car. My family is crazy. We flew home. I can almost see your faces scrunched up in a look that says, “Katie is crazy, and more than a little twisted.” You’re right; I am! But let me at least explain before you judge me too harshly!
My Papa Bill lingered in a hospital bed for months before he passed away. While my sister and I were both heartbroken, we were relieved that he didn’t have to suffer any more. We received the news, and began making plans to go home for the funeral immediately. The phone would ring…Me: “What are you wearing?” My sister: “I don’t know. None of my black dresses fit. Can I wear pants?” “No! You cannot wear pants! But I’m struggling too. All of my black dresses are scandalous, and my boobs hang out. Momsie will kill me.” “Yeah, I guess we both better go shopping. You think we can use Dad’s credit card?” And so the conversations went for several days. We both found black dresses, and we will get to what our grandmother thought of them in just a minute. And for the record…I paid for MY dress. Who paid for Nickie’s remains a mystery.
Next it was time to book a flight and hotel. My sister left the hotel up to me. “You’re a snob. I know I can trust you to find us a nice place that won’t have hookers hanging out in the hallways.” God bless Marriot. I not only found us a nice hotel near the airport, but I had enough points to stay for free. One more hurdle jumped. Now just time to board a plane, and head to Texas.
I got to DFW about an hour before my sister. I plopped myself down in baggage claim and waited. Once my sister arrived we headed to get a rental car. I should preface this by saying that my dad had offered to pay for the rental car….We walk up to the desk, and are greeted by a woman that has about as much personality as a piece of cardboard. I, being the responsible sister, ask for an economy car, swipe my dad’s card, and we head to the parking garage. Guys, we walk to our assigned car and cringe. I’m pretty sure there are clown cars that are more exciting than this car. But next to it is a BMW. Across from it is a Lexus. Is that a Mercedes I see? I think my sister and I were both thinking the same thing. It was just a matter of time to see who would be gutsy enough to say it. Within seconds she looks at me. I look at her. A big grin spreads across her face. “Let’s go back in. This just won’t do.” We wheel our luggage back inside, and thankfully Miss Cardboard has gone on break, and she has been replaced with Mr. I Give Discounts to Manipulative Women. We plaster on our biggest smiles, and strut to the counter. “Is there a problem ladies?” It was a rare moment. My sister let me speak! “Well….here is the problem. Our grandfather just died, and we were given this car that just isn’t what we had pictured. I mean…We would like something comfortable to drive our grandmother to the funeral in. Do you have anything a little more, you know, comfortable?” My sister jumps in at this point. “My dad is paying for the car, and we are on a budget. But I believe we can be flexible. Can we get a Dead Grandpa discount on a luxury car? We won’t spend more that $50 dollars a day.” I lean in and smile. “And my husband serves our country. Maybe there is an extra discount for that?” And away we go in a crisp white Mercedes Benz! I look at my sister. “Daddy’s gonna kill us!” “Eh, lets just wait a few months to tell him. Maybe when he’s at your house?” In this moment I can’t decide if I hate her, or am in awe of her guts and brazen attitude.
We get to the hotel about 30 minutes later. It’s important to note that the hotel is actually only 5 minutes away, but we got lost. Dallas is big, and Garmin wasn’t very helpful. Cut us some slack! We ask the lady at the front desk to recommend a great Mexican place to grab dinner. We stress it needs to be close by. She points us toward a little joint that she swears is only about 10 minutes away in Fort Worth. “But we’re in Dallas. Is there not somewhere in Dallas we can go?” “You’re ALMOST in Fort Worth. I promise it’s closer.” We shrug, accept her advice, run upstairs to change, and head out the door. It took FORTY FIVE MINUTES to get to the restaurant! And I was too nervous to drive our fancy car in rush hour traffic. We slide into a parking spot, dash inside, and scan the menu. I can’t help myself. “Do you think we can each have a drink without Momsie noticing? I mean, a drink sounds good, right?” While my sister is our wild child, she draws the line at drinking before Papa’s viewing. “No Katie. Momsie will totally flip out. Eat your chips, and be happy.” “Fine!” We begin to chat and catch up. We rarely see each other, and texting just isn’t the same as sitting down and visiting. (Yes, Southerners “visit”, we don’t just talk.) Nickie looks down at her watch, says a few choice words, and then tells me we have to go. We have an hour to get to visitation, and we don’t know where we are going. Oh, and did I mention it’s not in Dallas or Fort Worth?! “It’s ok Nickie. It lasts 3 hours. We don’t have to be there the moment the doors open.”
We weave in and out of traffic, obeying Garmin’s every command, and we end up in the hood. Surely this is a mistake? I mean….we are passing buildings with graffiti, closed up shops, and houses with grass so high you could hide your car in the yard. I look at Nickie. “Don’t look at me like that! I’m driving, and want to hit all the green lights. If I stop we might get shot!” After driving east for about 10 minutes, we make a U turn, and head west on the same street. Before you ask…Yes, we’re still in the hood! We see the funeral home, and turn in. We step out of our Benz, question whether it will be stripped by the time we get back to the car, and head inside. We decide to visit with our Papa before we tell the family we are here. We walk in quietly, have our moment with him, and then hunt down our grandmother. She squeals when she sees us, hugs our necks, and then asks us when we are getting married and having children. My sister looks at me with a look that threatens to kill me if I laugh. You see…Nickie and I have both been married for many years, and we have 7 kids between us. What in the world has our grandmother been smoking?! We sweetly remind her of these facts. She seems to be satisfied. Or is she? She looks at me and says, “Paige, why didn’t your mama come? She loved her Papa Bill.” Nickie is giving me that look again! “Ummm…Momsie? Paige is my daughter. I’m Katie.” “Well girl, you look damn good for a woman who has a grown daughter. I remember now. But while we’re talking, I need to ask you a question. Can I tell my friends that you have fake boobs and are wearing fake eyelashes?” People, I can’t make this stuff up! “Momsie, maybe this isn’t the right place.” “Oh Katie…there is no wrong place to talk about looking good.” Sigh….I WILL have wine after this event! Nickie and I endure a few hours of being called by the wrong names, asked when we are growing up, and listening to my grandmother tell everyone just how great our Papa was in bed. It’s time to call it a night!
We collapse into giggles as we get in the car. We agree that we have earned wine and Oreos. But where will we find it at this hour? Dallas? Fort Worth? In the hood? We settle on a drug store near the hotel. We buy tiny bottles of wine, Oreos, and more fake lashes. We can’t disappoint Momsie! Once we’re back in the hotel, we kick off our heels, crawl in the middle of the bed, drink wine, eat an entire container of double stuffs, and giggle at the craziness that is our family. I’m not really sure when we drifted off to sleep, or who finally moved the Oreo package to the nightstand, but we woke up feeling brave enough to face Day 2 of crazy.
We roll up to the funeral with our hair Texas high, our sunglasses as big as our faces, and our black dresses pressed. I thought we both looked like true ladies. We walk in, and I kid you not, my grandmother says with delight, “You both look like show girls!” What?! Seriously? Oh yeah….And my grandmother is wearing red! I can’t help it. I have to say it. “Momsie, you are wearing red to your husband’s funeral. How can you say we look like show girls when you’re in red? And our skirts are to our knees! We look like proper ladies.” “Papa Bill liked me in red. He said it made me look sexy. That’s why I’m wearing red. And I called you show girls because calling you dancers wouldn’t be very nice.” Thank God Nickie and I went together, because I’m really not sure how I would have handled those comments if her giggle hadn’t cut the tension. We made it through the funeral. We gingerly walked our crazy redheaded Momsie up to say her goodbyes. We kissed him one last time, and then like proper show girls, slid on our diva glasses, and walked back to our Benz.
The two days flew by in a blur. Nickie and I woke up in the wee hours of the morning to head back to the airport. It was time to turn in our pimped out ride, hug each other goodbye, and go back home. We haven’t seen our grandmother since that day, but she has kept us laughing as we chat with her on the phone for hours at a time. (We secretly pray she won’t go off on a tangent about her sex life again! Not today! Not today!) We may all be a little silly, some might even say we’re crazy, but I wouldn’t trade these crazy girls for anything!
PS…Thanks for the Benz Dad!