We left the house on December 20 (and did see him that night, before he passed) and got back in yesterday. Eleven days of travel and sleeping in strange beds would be a bit stressful on its own, but added with the grief... ack. Thankfully, my sister offered to mind the Spud Sunday - Tuesday while we drove to Boston. There were already four adults and an infant crammed into an uncle's generously-loaned Cape Cod home (er, Cape Cod = the type of house, not the location) and a toddler running around playing merry hell with everything... never mind the additional stress on him.
We spent Christmas Day with my family, which was a much-needed sanity break.
Spud made out like a bandit, with a train whistle, an electronic drum, toy cars, an Elmo play laptop, two play cell phones, some clothes, a whistle, stacking boxes, a faux tiger skin rug that he adores (very WTF? but hey, he likes it) and a promissory note for a kid-sized table and chair from IKEA.
I got several pieces of lovely jewelry from my dad and a fly fishing rod (I don't even know how to fly fish!), but the silly stand-out gift was the "Learn to Play Harmonica" kit. My niece's bouncy chair plays "Alouette" and after hearing ir approximately eleventy billion times, I worked it out on the harmonica. (Look out world, Teleri's got another instrument!)
My sister hosted a lovely Christmas dinner for us and her in-laws. It went very well and the food was excellent.
Then it was back to... yeah. My brother-in-law gave a very nice memorial at both masses (one in NJ, one in MA). He's not Catholic (some non-denominational Christian, I think) and we joked that "there was an awful lot of Jesus in it for a Catholic service." Which is strange, but true. Catholics - or at least priests - talk a lot about God and not so much about Jesus, especially as someone you have a personal and direct relationship with. They wouldn't say you can't have one, but the default setting of the mass is rather more remote.
For an Irish wake and funeral, there was not much drama. There was some, but not much. The UPS neglected to actually send the clothes we packed up for next-day air on Christmas Eve. Okay, nobody expected them to arrive Dec 25, but surely by the 27th? Nope, still in NJ. Never got sent. My sister-in-law got busy reaming them a new one, and the funeral home provided a suit. (Although I think Pops would have looked at it and grumbled, "I look like a goddamn guido.")
And then we drove, drove, drove back to NJ to get our very stressed-out little boy, crammed all the luggage, baby gear and gifts into the car in a fine piece of packing, and got home.
I am so, so thankful I have today off and that I am home.