May 24th, 2014

sailor becky

What a week it's been!

Last Sunday, May 18th, started like any other Sunday. I woke up at the crack of noon, got my usual Diet Mt. Dew and sat at my desk to do my morning email and web surfing when Jennell got the phone call that we both knew would eventually come, but both hoped wouldn't happen for a few more years.

Jennell's father had died in his sleep in his easy chair that afternoon.

At first, we weren't certain it was true because this was news given to us by a neighbor and relayed to Jennell's siblings and the paramedics were on the scene, however, 30 minutes later, it was confirmed. With a glance at Jennell's eyes, I knew what we had to do and in moments I applied my Shop-Fu and got us two one way tickets to Detroit, Michigan, a rental car, and was helping Jennell pack her bag for a funeral.

24 hours later, we were at her father's home, taking up residence and having Jennell living in a surreal daze at the shock of not seeing her dad come out from the bedroom and yelling at her to "Don't touch my stuff!" You see, her father was a hoarder. Not in the same league as those on the TV show "Hoarders", however he would have made honorable mention.

In a few days, the entire Jaquays clan came from Los Angeles California, Lawrence Kansas, Dallas Texas, Seattle Washington, Harrisburg Pennsylvania and other cities across the USA to gather together to honor and remember the man who was connected to them all. I mostly stood aside as the Jaquays siblings, Jennell, Jolene and Bruce, cordially and with respect, closed out their father's affairs and planned his funeral.

The viewing on Friday was both hard and unreal for Jennell. Her father was almost unrecognizable in the casket, not because of any issue from his death, but by the unusual hairstyle that the undertaker had given him. No one in the family thought that William Jaquays would have worn his hair in that style in life. It helped Jennell get through this moment.

The funeral and burial was filled with tears and each sibling gave a speech about how their father guided them and gifted them by enriching their lives. We ended by the lowering of the casket into his grave, right beside his wife's grave so William could be next to his wife, who died over 10 years ago, forever.

I sit back at all this, thinking about how lucky Jennell is at having such a close knit, caring family. I was never so lucky. When my father died in 1989, I didn't feel sorrow, I felt relief. He was a horrible man who tortured and beat me senseless almost every day of my young life. Recently, my mother had passed, and while I did feel sorrow at her passing, there was no urge to go to her funeral. In fact, there was no funeral, no grave, just cremation. My siblings were so dysfunctional, one went out of his way to disrupt my mother's cremation by demanding that he was to be given all of her worldly possessions in exchange for his signature on the cremation forms as a form of extortion. Only a month later, my mother's mobile home was being confiscated for failure to pay rent on the lot due to my siblings' bickering. I kept out of it. I was not welcome in that family, and as recently as two months ago, I was reminded as to how hated I am by a jealous, bitter, angry and homophobic/transphobic sibling.

Jennell, your father did things right. He may have been a grouch and a "Get off my lawn!" type of old man. Yet, he never lost sight of what was really important.


I'm so happy to be a member of a family that actually wants me to be a part of it. Thank you, Jennell, for letting me see, and feel, what it's like to be in a family that, while it's not perfect, works.
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