I have had these moments over the past couple years where I have thought about deleting my Facebook account. I have always hesitated to do it and just end up deactivating it when those feeling come up. I have years and years of photos and memories archived on my Facebook account. Today was one of those days that I am grateful I haven’t pulled the plug on deleting Facebook yet (yes, I also know you can download your entire post and photo archive. I do it about once a year.).
This morning, my Facebook Memories included the above and following photos I took of my grandmother, Dorothy Margaret Collie, from a trip to Illinois to see her in May 2010. Along with these photos, I was also reminded of her death 7 years ago today. Another one of those reminders of how damn fast time keeps moving past us. December 3, 2011. My youngest daughter, Lars was still years away from being thought of or conceived. My oldest daughter, Natalea had only “met” my grandmother once when she was about 9 months old when my mom and I flew up there. Which reminds me that I need to see if there are photos from that trip…
Seven years ago today, I was woken up way earlier than I wanted to be on a Saturday morning by a call from my aunt, Marcia. I had been out late the night before; having drinks after I had “SLOW DOWN” tattooed on my knuckles. I cleared out my bank account and borrowed money from my mom so that I could fly to Illinois for the funeral. That entire trip was a complete nightmare. The flight to St. Louis was easy and went by relatively quickly. The nightmare began trying to get from St. Louis to Springfield, Illinois. I had reserved a rental car to make the roughly 90 minute drive to my aunt’s house. That is where it all fell apart. The rental place wouldn’t allow me to rent a car because 1) I didn’t have a credit card at that time and 2) my debit card did not have a large enough balance to let them do a $500 authorization to hold while I had their car. I started freaking the fuck out. Called my mom. Called my aunt. Begged and pleaded with the woman at the car rental counter. An older black gentleman that had been hanging out in the lobby told me that he would drive me to Springfield for $80. Turns out he was a cab driver and had overheard my story and promised to get me there in one piece.
I arrived at my aunt’s house hours later than originally planned thanks to all of the above setbacks. I thanked my driver and went inside to catch up with my family that I hadn’t seen in years. The next morning we woke up and got ourselves ready and hopped in the car for the hour long drive to Beardstown, Illinois for the funeral. The drive is a pretty boring and uneventful experience. Central Illinois is all farm land, corn and soybeans for as far as the eye can see. As we drove, it started to lightly snow which quickly blanketed the bare fields as we approached the quiet, sleepy farm town of Beardstown. My father grew up here. My father, Mark Lintner Collie (it also really bothers me that I can not find mention of my father’s obituary anywhere on the internet) was also buried here in 1986. His father, Clyde Farris Collie was buried next to him in February 2002. And now we were going to bury my grandmother next to both of them.
I spent every summer in Illinois with my grandparents after my dad died. I had my first job ever while staying with them during the summers. I detassled corn; which is a fucking hard job that starts before the sun comes up. We would ride an old school bus to the field after being picked up in front of the Super S Foods at 5am. This is also the job that solidified that I smoked cigarettes for many years to come. 85 cents a pack Richlands. I still fondly call them “roots and stems and floor scrapings”. So many memories from my summers here. Dairy Queen (my dad took me to the same one for my very first Blizzard ever. I remember being so scared that my ice cream was going to fall out when they turned it over). The elevated train bridge that crossed the Illinois River. I would spend hours at this bridge. Sometimes I would climb down to the concrete piling below and lay there as the trains rolled past just a couple feet above me. My first real experiences with girls and subsequent loss of my virginity eventually. And my first two tattoos that I got across the river in Rushville at the age of 15 (maybe it was 14 actually…), that I failed at hiding from my grandmother or my mother when I returned home.
The whole funeral experience was what one would expect. The remaining friends and family of my grandmother’s were there. Old and familiar faces of people that I had grown up around offering condolences and stories. The next day, I boarded my plane home to Austin and I haven’t been back to Beardstown since. I should go back and visit soon. Like all cemeteries, they seem to get bigger and bigger every year. Headstones and flowers as far as one can see in every direction. The tree we planted after my father was buried has since been cut down, some kind of fungal infection claimed that ornamental pear tree. I haven’t talked to my aunt Marcia since the day I got back to Austin. She doesn’t even know that I have a second daughter now who is 5 years old. I am not sure how to bridge that gap, or if I even should with her at this point.