Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Great Falls, Montana for Grandma Graves' Memorial

Now Playing -  Here I Go Again by Whitesnake
Life -  

Last weekend Linz and I traveled with her folks to Great Falls, MT for the memorial of her grandmother, Ethel Graves. Rich, my father-in-law has been driving a lot lately, so I volunteered to be the driver for this trip. As it turns out, 6-7 hour drive to Great Falls for a weekend is a pretty short drive for me, now that I'm used to comic con trips, but the weekend itself was a wholly different experience.

It's always odd going to a family event that you are only tangentially attached to. The Graves family has always made people feel welcome to the family, that's been one of their strengths, no question, but when you are surrounded by people with decades of bonds, stories and connections, it's easy to become lost quite quickly. Particularly at a funeral, when emotions run high and more than ever, people reflect on the past.

I met Ethel a couple of times; at our wedding and at my brother in law Dylan's wedding, but she wasn't at her strongest either time and I was pretty preoccupied both times, so unfortunately I never really got to know her in any meaningful sense. However, I'd heard many great stories about her and I was glad we could make it up to the service.

The funeral home
It was held at a beautiful old funeral home in central Great Falls, replete with old details like painted ceilings and iron sconces. The owner gave me a tour of the upstairs and the original family's living quarters - its a great place, with a lot of character. The service was simple and pleasant, with all of the children speaking, a few songs, a slideshow and friends reminiscing about her and her husband. After that, there was a short graveside service, some admittedly questionable food at a small church and then the family assembled at the site of the old family farm. At the farm, with views of the Montana countryside stretching for miles, we scattered some of her ashes and added to the cairn of rocks that we made when Shorty was laid to rest. Beyond that, in typical Graves fashion, there was some eating out and many a beer was consumed.
The family farm

It was a bit frustrating at times because I'd driven Rich and Sue in our Element, so transportation became complex and to be frank, planning has never been Lindsay's family's strong suit. There's also been an undercurrent of tension between Lindsay's brother and sister's sides of the families for years that has spilled over into the way her parents treat the two groups that I really wish both sides would get over. It never overtly surfaced during the weekend, but it was always there lurking absurdly under the surface.
Essentially the only people there under 50.

At the end of the weekend, we also managed to get together with a couple of Lindsay's friends that live in Montana, which was really great. It was excellent being able to spend time with members of her extended family that I talk with online often but rarely see and overall it was a nice weekend, considering the circumstances. Though by the end of it, I was happy to be home.

The complete collection of photos from the trip can be seen on Flickr HERE


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