Monthly Archives: September 2015

Grandma Lee’s Funeral

Dress covered in wrinkles and iron juice, I try to seem as put-together as my cousin.

Dress covered in wrinkles and iron juice, I try to seem as put-together as my cousin.

My weekend might have been worse than yours. We flew to Athens, Georgia, for my grandmother’s funeral. Reed calls me the velcro member of “The Family” (the core family: my two sisters and our parents). I am the detachable/re-attachable obligation.

24 hours until the funeral:
Reed, Luc, and I arrive at Bob Hope International Airport relaxed, ready for caffeine, and determined to make the best of a funeral weekend. Michael, our Southwest ticketing agent, cringes as he breaks the news that we are at the wrong airport. Our flight will leave from LAX as scheduled, and we would need teleportation to board on time.

22 hours until the funeral:
The Great Wrong Airport Debacle of 2015 resolved (thank you, Southwest!!), we scuttle through security where I nervously present an expired driver’s license and my antique passport. A text from my sister pings that we should not stop by our parents’ house (both of my sisters are staying there) when we get to town because Mom is stressed. I figure she must only want family around her at a time like this. Oh wait. I am family.

11 hours until the funeral:
We hobble into the Holiday Inn of Athens, Georgia, at 1am. Luc is asleep. I am 18% alive. The empty bottle of saline surprises Reed anew, and he makes his monthly dash to a 24 hour drugstore.

4 hours until the funeral:
A text from my sister pings that we should not go to our parents’ house today before the funeral because Mom is overwhelmed. I figure she must want family around her at a time like this. Oh wait…

3 hours until the funeral:
A text from my sister pings that we should absolutely be on time for the funeral. The Family will arrive promptly at noon, and I’d better be there waiting. Or else. I silently question 5 hours of flying, 4 hours of laying over, and 3 hours of driving for this.

1 hour until the funeral:
The hotel iron is a union member who already worked 40 hours this week. My dress, covered in wrinkles and large ovals of iron juice, has reached a new level of suitcase chic.

11:15 AM:
We arrive at the church and debate parking in the spaces marked “Funeral.” My husband insists we can’t park there because “those spaces are for family only.” Really? Really?? Velcro Girl growls.

Noonish:
The Family arrives. Mom moves and speaks with a quiet fluidity. I think she is medicated. We file into a gargantuan sanctuary. Ambitious choice for a 99 year old’s funeral. Surprise baptism! My sister scheduled an adult baptism for herself. Today. An hour before our grandmother’s funeral. The Family is pleased and does not offer an explanation.

12:15 PM:
Miraculously, energetic, excited-to-see-each-other-after-a-whole-year 5 and 7 year-old cousins remain quietly pretend-somber. Sort of. Mom invites everyone to view a short, silent slide show of Grandma Lee through the years. It loops. And loops. For 45 minutes.

Grammy promises her fading grandchildren tiny, mysterious presents if they behave. Desperate parents hiss time-outs, shoot stink-eyes, and issue death threats to bring the impossible to fruition: happy, hungry, bored, quiet, calm children.

Post Funeral:
The service lasted in the neighborhood of 136 child-years. We file into a room with finger sandwiches and cookie platters. Luc takes a finger sandwich for show, and then shovels 80% of the cookies onto his plate. I pretend not to notice because, frankly, he deserves them.

Eventually we are dismissed and return to the hotel for food and swimming. A stressful, mandatory, The Family style dinner closes the day.

24 Hours Post Funeral:
Reed packed with an air of time abundance. We arrive at our gate hungry and just in time to board. Hopefully trail mix will satiate us for the next 5 hours. “Attention please: we have a passenger on board with a peanut allergy. No peanuts or peanut products will be permitted today. Thank you!” We survive on millions of pretzelito packs and thimbles of orange juice.

Was my weekend worse than yours?

Hammy the Hamster: My Inner Demon

Hammy.

Hammy.

Hammy is the belligerent, alcoholic hamster who runs on my brain-wheel. He claims his “PTSD vet” status excuses the violence, blackouts, and emotional abuse. It was Hammy who suggested that I compose my “blog prattling” in Word to avoid accidentally publishing “so much typographical puke.”

The folder with all my would-be posts is like a zombie cemetery. Hands of unexpressed ideas burst out of graves and try to wave me over. Meanwhile, at allisongarwood.com, crickets and tumbleweeds…

I’m resuming writing directly into the blog. And I’m giving myself a time limit.

Hammy: “So what? Who cares? Why did you write that?”
Me: “Zip it, Hammy. I need to make excuses for my writing.”
Hammy: “You are a loser.”
Me: “I know.”
Hammy: “Grab me another bottle of whiskey.”
Me: “Okay.”

HBCU is okay, but not HWCU? Why?

“For most of America’s history, African Americans seeking a college education could only get one from an HBCU.” –Thurgood Marshall College Fund (tmcf.org)

HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) were established through Title III of the Higheer Education Act of 1965. “Congress officially defined an HBCU as a school of higher learning that was accredited and established before 1964, and whose principal mission was the education of African Americans.” (tmcf.org) The United Negro College Fund website claims Cheyney Univeristy in Pennsylvania as the first HBCU founded in 1837.

In my opinion, the “H” (representing “historically”) removes wiggle room to argue discrimination in the term HBCU. On top of that, HBCU’s do accept non-black students.

HWCU would indeed be racist for many reasons. Many, many, many reasons. First, most colleges and universities are historically white. In fact, they only admitted white students until the 1960’s. More progress is still needed to achieve equal opportunities for people of color at most colleges and universities. In addition, to HWCU being redundant, highlighting “White” would send a message that only white people are welcome.

We white people don’t even need to acknowledge the existence of white priveledge to reap the benefits. And it is that white priveledge that tricks us into thinking that HBCU’s are in some way offensive or dangerous.

More (better) reading:
Howard University’s First Students Were White And Other Little Known Facts About HBCU’s

Do We Still Need HBCU’s?

** Please comment with your opinion. Agree? Disagree? Have something to add? **