Wednesday, February 18, 2009

On Death, Dying, and Family...

I find death so fascinating. Not the actual "Death" itself, but the events that occur after one, a loved one, has left this life. Whenever a loved one passes away, it seems as if people begin to manifest their cynicism. There are even some who'd like to feel as if they're mourning the loss more than others, and proceed to weep or moan harder than their co-grievers.

It would seem to me, that death brings out the worst in some people. Sometimes, accidents can be so tragic that the grief seems unbearable. Over the years, I think I've grown a little more understanding that death is a part of life. I'm fighting to understand that some people cannot control their emotions, and I do not want to seem insensitive toward my family and friends. I remember when I was seven, and a loved one passed away. A family member was carried out of the church, kicking and screaming and as I stood to the side as other family members ushered her out, she unknowingly kicked me in the head with her high-heels. *That hurt pretty nicely*

But I've often wondered...If we, (my family) as spiritual believers, understand where our loved one is going, why do we grieve so hard? She loses her husband, he loses his father, they lose their grandfather... We shed tears...Crying and grieving is necessary, but at what point are we free to act out of place and become unruly because we want people to feel the pain we feel?

The older I get, I understand that as much as I love all races, there are just some differences in how we handle things, especially funerals, and I'll leave it at that. If you'd like me to expound, inquire within.

This past weekend, my loving grandfather passed away. My eyes begin to water even now, as I think of his gentle eyes, and his cool way of saying things. I think about the memorable quotes that used to come out of his mouth. I think about his life and how he pressed forth to be a better man and a better Christian man every day. I think about the stories that I was told over the phone about his "ornery" behavior in the hospital just recently.

So, I leave Austin to travel to Lake Jackson to be with my family. A lot of people haven't seen me since my Big Mama's funeral. I began to brace myself for the comments, as I was coming back with some obvious changes in appearance... LOL, nothing plastic really, but I'm a little thinner and I've got these seven inch vines hanging from my scalp. I like to call them locs, but you KNOW my family gon' call them something else. *SIDENOTE* When I get around my family, my vernacular changes...

I spent the night with my cousin who didn't want to sleep alone after having stayed there at the hospital with my "Grandchester" after he died. My cousin watched me grow up, but for some reason I feel like she still sees me as little "Dut-Dut". It was good sleeping in her big ol' bed. We're family. We stayed up and could not sleep; thinking about "Chester Kemp" and his life and we began to think about how much we couldn't believe that the day had come... that he was actually gone away from us.

After getting about 2 hours of sleep, we traveled to my grandmother's house. I took a lot of deep breaths because this was my GRANDPA... It's still odd knowing that he's not going to be there, standing in front of the space heater or perpetual flame as I'd like to call it. He'd stand in front of the space heater to get himself warmed up whenever he felt cold. Now, that space heater stayed on 368 days a year. Really, 368 days. It was always on. I walked in the door and I was met by the laughs of my great-aunt and others, "Law'd have mercy, look at that boy's hair. What them is, "DEAD"locs?" I 'bout died of laughter. They were pulling on my hair and asking me if it was fake. We just sat and reminisced on a lot of things. We fried fish and talked about folks. It was grand. I showed them the Study Breaks Magazine that we were featured in, as well as a copy of The Ars Supenova's new album. They were like, "That's good baby", but they didn't seem all that impressed. See, I may be "JIROD GREENE" whenever I'm home here in Austin, but when I'm HOME HOME, I'm "Lil' Dustrag" or "KOOL POP" or "DUT-DUT"... Those are a few of my nicknames. They didn't care that I was a Semi-Lebrity...

That night, when I traveled back to Austin, I lay on the couch and closed my eyes, and I began to imagine looking into my grandfather's eyes and wondering what he was thinking before he left. I cried as I began to think of his life and how we interacted the last time we saw each other. I began to think about other family members and how I would not let 2 months pass between seeing or hearing from people that I love...

I forgot to deliver him a message from a friend at my mother's church. I learned that his nickname was BILL. Country-Folks sure do have a way of making a nickname come up from absolutely nothing, but it means something. How did anyone manage to get the nickname "BILL" from Chester? It's beyond me.

I received word that some family members were getting emotional about the funeral arrangements and stormed out during several family meetings. After being perceived as still being a baby, (I'm 24) I wanted nothing more but to strut around proving my intelligence, and call the emotional outbursts and arguments, "unnecessary" and "unneeded". You see, I was NEVER EVER the youngest grandson, well, I was until others were born shortly after me, but I was always treated like the "delicate" one. Even today, at 24, I'm still treated as the delicate one who needs to have "thick skin when you come down here to the Country". All I can think about is, "I WISH I WAS THERE WHEN ALL THAT STUFF WENT DOWN", I'm speaking about the outbursts around the funeral arrangements. It just doesn't seem logical to throw a fit when you want something that no one else wants.

I feel as if it's our responsibility to be there for my grandmother. SURE, They've lost a father, and we've lost a grandfather...but she lost her soul-mate. She lost the man she lay beside every night. She lost the man that she STOOD beside in SICKNESS and in health... In sickness... MY grandmother stood beside my grandfather when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer almost nine years ago. She was there for his emotional break downs. She was there for his mood swings. She stood beside him, because she was and remains to be strong. Heck, she's stronger than a lot of us.

When I was little, around the age of 7, my family members just started DYING at a rapid pace, or so it seemed. My cousin and I talked, and we seemed to lose family members left and right. By the age of 20, all of the great aunts and uncles on my mothers side had passed away...All but one. Dear Ol' Aunt Sweet. But at funerals, I'd be crying my eyes out before we even entered the church...remember, I was the "delicate" one. I would look around to see who else was crying, and then I'd cry harder... I was young.

I think people still do it, it's just a bit different these days. Adults boast their pain by pressing the Emergency Unnecessary Outburt Button and pretend that they're the ONLY someone whose lost a loved one. I'd love to put a padlock on that EUB Button. We're al grieving. We all miss him.

God, tell my grandpa that we miss him. Tell him that we'll see him again soon. Tell him that I'm sitting here, about to design his obituaries and I can't find a good, manly font. Tell him "Robin" misses him so much, and that Laci misses him.

I love Chester Ray Kemp, Sr. I know he's having a good time with Chester Ray Kemp, Jr.


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