Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Three Siters, a Funeral and a Shitty Hotel

Well, that was an event unlike anything I’ve ever attended before.

Recently we buried my husband’s Aunt Ev. She was a darling lady, one of seven sisters, only three of whom remain alive. It was a lovely service, but that isn’t actually the point of this post.

For the celebration of Ev’s life, we travelled from Calgary, Alberta to Tisdale, Saskatchewan. The first leg of the journey was long and arduous. We left Calgary, headed to Innisfail to pick up hubby’s brother and set out on the road. And by road, I mean goat path. Saskatchewan highways tend to be rather rough by Alberta standards. But this was beyond rough. Our intention had been to head virtually straight east, with a slight northbound curve. And we did. Hubby’s brother programmed his crazy iPhone for Saskatoon and we were off.

You know how GPS devices have settings … shortest route, longest route, avoid freeways … I’m pretty sure his phone was set for goat path. As instructed we took highway 51 which quickly went from the odd bump to washboard. From washboard to rutted, pitted and grooved. We dipped, we dodged, we swerved and our speed slowed to a crawl

Then it got bad. 

We hit construction. 

Well, more accurately destruction. The road rapidly deteriorated to gravel with ruts. We cautiously edged our way through the construction, trying our best to retain a grip on our kidneys. In the background the GPS kept instructing us to “return to the route”, because that vague instruction is really helpful. As the trip progressed, (regressed?) the road got worse. We pulled up alongside a highway worker holding  a ‘slow’ sign and asked her if the upcoming intersection would lead us in the direction we wanted to go. She replied that she didn’t know. Seriously? If you are working on a highway, wouldn’t you have at least a vague idea of where it led? When asked if the road was paved (remember we are on a provincial highway that more closely resembles a goat path.) She replied that it was paved, but broken pavement. 
What, you ask, does that mean?

Apparently it means rutted gravel with the odd bit of pavement thrown in just to add a sense of false hope that things might be improving. Quickly, the road deteriorated even further getting narrower, narrower and rougher. It was bad enough, that we were taking pictures of ‘the road’ just so we didn’t forget what we went through. Then, the dips start. 

Up and down and up and down. Not slow gradual heaves, but ass jolting, spine crunching, slam-the-oil-pan-into-the-ground ruts. We slowed even further. We were down to about 40 km/hr on a road clocked for 100. Keep in mind, that dusk is falling and it is freaking near dark. We’re the only car on the road, except for the odd vehicle with those blinding white headlights that leave you blinking and staring sightless for ten seconds after they pass. Up ahead we saw a reflective sign. Was this a good sign? We sure hoped so.

But, alas, no. It was, wait for it … a detour sign. Yup, you heard that right. A detour. We were diverted off the “highway” through what appeared to be a farmer’s field. The entire detour consisted of one lone sign indicating that we swerve right; around the barricade. Then that’s it. No more signs, no more indications of where to go. Just darkness on a path cut through a field. We drove and drove, slowing to less than 20 km/h, all the while the GPS is screeching that we should ‘return to the route.’ Eventually, about fifteen kilometers later, a sign diverted us even further.

The best part of the highway.

Finally we made it to Saskatoon, about two hours later than we expected. And my darn car needs a wheel alignment because it is now shaking like a dog shitting tacks. We spent the night in Saskatoon and headed for Tisdale in the morning.

The funeral was nice. Very moving and a definite celebration of Aunt Ev’s life. It touched on her service to the church and community, her military career and many of the wonderful things she has done. Church service complete, we head for the grave site. When they were lowering the casket, Aunt Ev’s military beret slipped off the coffin and into the grave opening. One quick witted relative said, “Hat’s off to Ev.” To some, it might have seemed disrespectful. To this crazy and twisted family, it brought a laugh, because it was just the kind of joke she would have made and loved.

I adore my husband’s extended family. They are a hilarious group of people. Always quick with a laugh and a joke and the thickest skins of anyone I have ever met. They aren’t offended by anything. You can joke and tease and bug and pester, heckle and ridicule and nobody takes offense. They just go along with it. All of them. And if it looks like fun, they’ll all pile on too. Around them, you don’t share any weakness, because someone will catch it, jab at it, and the rest will pick up the ball and run with it. They’re like a pack of vultures, pecking you to death. Fabulous! Seriously, they can dish it out, but they can take it too. It makes for a butt load of laughs.

After the service we went back to the hotel for a few bevy’s and some visiting. The hotel was nice. Our room was spotless, the continental breakfast was astounding, the hot tub was clean and lovely. But it the hotel wasn’t without issues.

Let me tell you about that.

So we pop into a cousin’s room where a bunch of rellies were gathered.
Cousin John immediately launches into the story of their check-in.

The male cousins are in one room, the females in another.
The men check out their room and it is quite nice. Suddenly, Cousin Mary is knocking on their door and wants to know if the boys want to change rooms with the girls.
John asks why.
“Come look at this,” Mary says and drags the men into the girl’s room.
There it was.
Stuck, immovably, to a towel hanging alongside the sink.
A big fat turd.
Yup. There was shit on the towel. In a clean room.
So John picks up the offending excrement in the towel and marches downstairs to the front desk to, in his words, “give them shit.” Let me tell you, the poop jokes were flying. And they didn’t stop.
“Remember not to eat the chocolate on your pillow.”
“Don’t ask for a turd down.”
“Our room is craptacular.”

As tale continues, someone notes that the poop room had other issues. Splashed all over the bathroom door is what appears to be blood. (Gag, retch and swallow back bile.) The maid is called in and reminded that this was also the poop room. She seems flustered and cleans up. Later, she returns to inform them that it wasn’t blood, it was cranberry juice. Ya. Right. Cranberry juice my aunt fanny.

On the plus side, the room was put to rights, the beds were clean, and the rest of the stay was without hotel incident. In honor of our visit we grant the hotel the Golden Turd Award.

Some other highlights of the trip included my dear hubby donning his Jesus persona and giving lectures on how we don’t do anything without profit. Not necessarily monetary profit, but profit of some sort. You work for a wage … that is profit. Your profit for helping someone … feeling good.  You keep paying thousands of dollars to keep your dog alive … you profit from the feeling of helping and by having the dog around. He does have a point. And, I have to tell you, that my husband puts on a pretty good lecture when he’s three sheets to the wind. (And since I was slightly liquored myself, I can only give a crappy version of the conversation.)

Cousin Marnie is a bit hard of hearing and when asked what was the good during the past year, replied, “My right ear is my good ear.” Like I said, don't show any weakness or we'll dog pile on you and tease you mercilessly.

I took some ribbing for writing erotica … though those same people asked where to buy it.

Then there is Aunt Marnie (not to be confused with Cousin Marnie). Aunt Marnie is getting up there in age and is a laugh a minute. After much coaxing and convincing, she related the tale of the vacuum salesman. Stammering and blushing throughout, she told us about when she was young a vacuum salesman visited her home. She said she was fascinated by the size of his ‘package’ and couldn’t keep her eyes off it. Even her husband said he was impressed. Apparently it was the biggest ‘package’ they had ever seen, and it was just poking out there begging to be noticed. It was adorable how she was titillated and embarrassed, and perhaps a bit proud of her interest. She was, to use her words, “mesmerized by it.”

Yup, all in all it was a good family gathering. Tragic that we lost such a good person, but nice to reconnect with the three remaining sisters (my husband’s aunts.) And it is always a laugh to get together with the Parker Clan and enjoy a good family rebuttal. It is too bad that most of the rellies are so far away, we really need to get together more often.

As always, this post is tongue in cheek. I love my extended family with all their quirks and twisted humor.


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