Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Random thoughts after the funeral

I'm back. I don't know what to say.

It was nice to see my family and meet Lee's relatives that I only have met through group emails before.

They had a couple of photos blown up huge, like 3 feet tall. When my sister-in-law pulled the protective paper off the first one so I could see, it was horrible. It was so big and bright with Clint's face right next to mine, it was like he was there. It was very startling. The photo was great, and I'm happy they had it at the funeral, but to be so confronted with my celluloid brother took my breath away.

Flying home, there was a problem with the number 2 engine and we had to wait on the ground. I had to haul ass to make my connecting flight, but I made it. They had already started boarding. It would have been such a let-down not to get home on time.

When I looked over Salt Lake City from the sky, I thought, I'll probably never come here again. My sister-in-law plans on moving to Idaho next summer. She and Clint have (she has) a trailer and some land there. Clint wanted to move up there, but Lee kept saying no because the medical facilities were too primitive and too distant.

We went to Marie Callender's one night. I always want to go there. So we did. None of us were very hungry, though.

Clint's old roommate Bob made a box to put the ashes in. He brought it over one night. It's nice to have someone who cared about him make the box. It sucks that there's a box for my brother. Lee sat it on the living room floor. People used it as a foot rest and coffee table. She said that was OK until he was in it.

Lee put me on the program to speak. I didn't know what to say. I scrawled a few things in the morning when I couldn't sleep. Here's basically what I said. I was babbling a bit. I'm trying to recreate the babbling so you get a sense of how nervous I was. I thought my hands would shake so much I wouldn't be able to see my notes. It was almost that bad. People told me I didn't seem nervous at all. People are nice at funerals. So here it is. Some things really didn't come out well. Anyway –

Clint was my big brother. Even though he was a lot older than I was, he still treated me the way brothers treat their sisters, the way Sarah's brothers treat her. It's nice to see that tradition passed down through the family.

Lee mentioned that some things were Clint's fault. I'm going to continue on those lines. I blame Clint for some things. I blame Clint for my addiction to peppermint tea. When I was three, he made me some peppermint tea, and I thought it was wonderful. It was the kind that you add hot water to those little cubes. I started just sucking on the cubes, nasty little things. My parents weren't too pleased, but I thought it was wonderful. And I blame him for that.

I also blame him for my fascination with fire. He used to hold a magnifying glass to the furniture and focus the sunlight on it until it started to smoke. It was great. Once he set his desk on fire. It was scary. But I share that, and it's his fault.

But Clint taught me some things, too.

He taught me to put marshmallows in my hot chocolate. He taught me to add more flour to my chocolate chip cookies so they didn't turn out like cow pies, even if the recipe didn't say to.

He taught me about generosity. He was always generous with his love. With his family. But he taught me about generosity with money, too. Once when I was in Girl Scouts, we went on a walk in the woods to the top of this long hill. It was steep, and really nice, and at the top there was this little chapel. A man built it in the 1800s to thank God for sparing his family from diphtheria. It's a tiny thing, and really pretty, and there's a donation box, of course. So I fished around in my pockets for some money, and all I found was a nickel, but I put it in the box. When I got home, I told Clint about it, and my family's sarcastic, so I said, "Really generous of me to put a nickel in the box." And he said, "If that was everything you had to give, then it was generous." And it blew me away and made me think and he gave that to me.

He also taught me that a large man can run really fast when he's chasing a naughty little girl.

Lee also wanted to apologize to me for not keeping Clint alive longer, and, yes, that's foolish. But I also have a foolish apology to make. I'm sorry you married someone with such bad genes. That's my family. Sorry, Lee.

As an adult, Clint taught me about being a parent. When I saw how he was with his kids, he was always so loving and patient, and I hoped I could be that kind of parent. I haven't always managed it. But I'm trying.

Clint didn't suffer fools gladly. He suffered, and he occasionally made them suffer. But the people he loved, he gave everything he had to give.

Lee, I am so grateful he had you and these kids, Ben, Sarah, James and Daniel. You and your family are the best thing for him, and I thank you for that. I love you.

Whether he was helping make Swedish meatballs for Girl Scouts – and Swedish meatballs, come on; it's no wonder I'm vegetarian now. Blech. He gathered photos and names for my daughter when she was doing a genealogy project and sent it out with Sarah when she came to stay with us for a little while. He did anything he could. He gave everything, and he loved me, and it was my privilege to know him.

Thank you all for coming.


MJ Krech said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MJ Krech said...

I can't think of a better tribute for a big brother, Amy. You said exactly the right things, if you ask me. He was lucky to have you as a little sister.

He was generous to me, also, BTW. I appreciated his willingness to share his knowledge of your family's genealogy so I could get it right for the family tree. He was very kind when correcting mistakes I'd made. And I was very grateful to get it right. Because getting the names and dates of the family recorded correctly is very important to me. I shared that belief with Clint.

I wish I'd know him other than through emails, although I do remember meeting him at your wedding, but, of course, there was no time to get to know him then.

laurie said...

well, that sounds just about perfect to me.

it gives me such a strong picture of him.

Lisa said...

Amy Jean we all went to Marie Callendars after Clinton and Leola got married. You weren't very old so maybe you always wanted to go there and actually remember going. I recall your father being highly annoyed with us that we took our leftovers home, he didn't think there was enough to bother with or something. We all said, "Don't pay him no never mind" and did it anyway.

Amy said...

Marcia, thanks. You're so nice to me. I'm glad you got to know Clint, even if just through emails. Genealogy was his passion. Lee said she packed 16 boxes of genealogy stuff, and that wasn't all of it. I was lucky to have him as my brother. He always took good care of me.

Laurie, all of us speakers were sweating like you wouldn't believe, we were so nervous. The BO emanating from the pulpit, if that's what it's called in the Mormon church, was overwhelming.

Lisa, I remember going to Marie Callender's after their wedding. I had coconut cream pie for dessert. Dessert is all that matters. And one night, we went to Diamond Lil's. That place was so fun. I had coconut cream pie for dessert.

They had a photo of Clint and Lee from their reception at somebody's house. They both looked so young, and Clint was quite trim. It was fascinating.

MJ Krech said...

I would dearly love to see what he had in those genealogy boxes! Do you know where the old family photos are? I would love to add photos to the family tree I'm building. Were you ever emailed scans of some of those photos or documents?

Crystal Jigsaw said...

As funerals go, that was pretty awesome. I mean no disrespect of course but I am sure Clint would have been stood right next to you when you said all that, smiling at your heartfelt words and the love which clearly poured from you.

Putting a nickel in that box was indeed very commendable and Clint knew exactly what generosity meant. His words touched me deeply.

Best wishes, Crystal xx

The Rotten Correspondent said...

You got up there and told the world how you feel about him, and all the things about him that you'll carry with you.

It's really impossible to find any fault with that. At all.

You did good.

Amy said...

Marcia, he has old photos. They're probably in those boxes. He sent me copies of a few. He asks people he finds if they have any photos, and that's how he gets most of them. I'll see if I can find the ones he sent. I think they're in the evil room, and I won't go in there until someone cleans it. I'm done cleaning that room. Never again. If I pick it up, it's going to the trash, and if anyone thinks I'm kidding, they can try me.

CJ, thanks. That's very sweet. It's interesting how easily some people give, and how hard it is for others. I've thought a lot about what Clint said. I agree with him, but sometimes I also think if it's not hurting you to give, maybe you're not giving enough. You know what I mean? If it's no skin off your back, what are you really giving? And think of the hurt it can be to have to accept someone else's generosity. If it's taking something away when you give, maybe you feel the meaning of it more.

But other times I don't feel that way. I think you have to be responsible to your own first. I think filthy rich people who barely feel a dent are still doing a lot of good when they give away loads more money than I could.


RC, thanks. I'm glad I talked. Even if it wasn't as polished as I would have liked. Even if some words were quite awkward. People got it. It was an honor to speak about him. There was so much more I could have said.