I drove to Vermont, Illinois and back yesterday. It was like 700 miles. I went for my cousin Steve's funeral. He was 54, and up until a few months ago was a big, healthy outdoorsman type guy. Somehow or other he ended up with acute leukemia, and his body pretty much just gave out.
I don't have much family on my dad's side. It was just he and my uncle Harold who had kids. Aunt Mary Edith never had any. And that's about it. So I felt like I really needed to go. And even though we're a small family, I still hadn't seen most of them in a long, long time. That's the bad part about working weekends.
So, I got up at 4 am, and hit the road at 5. I drove straight through and got there in plenty of time for the 10:30 am (central time) funeral. Fortunately I gained an hour going there (I live in the eastern time zone). I really wasn't sleepy at all on the way there - even without any caffeine. I didn't like driving in the dark for the first 2 3/4 hours, plus it was sprinkling off and on, and traffic through Indy was a bit thick even at 6:30-7 am. But I was glad it didn't rain any worse than it did, and once the sun came out it was a pretty nice day. I stopped once to use the restroom, then I stopped again and got gas, went potty, and changed my clothes (I wore sweats and changed into my good clothes in McClean, IL). So it took me just under 6 hours to get there. But I pushed it pretty hard to do that. I probably averaged about 14 mph over the speed limit (tickets go up in price at 15 mph over).
I pulled into Vermont and parked on Main Street. This is where my dad grew up, and it's a quaint little village. Population 801 according to the sign at the edge of town. I drove by the house my grandma moved into on Main Street after she moved off the farm (after grandpa died in 1980). Then I parked in what used to be the business district, right in front of what appears to be an antique/nick-nack store. It had a cat sleeping in the window, but the store was closed (as was everything else, it appeared). The church was one block over, and there were quite a few cars already there. So I put on my sweater (because I don't have any suits or sport coats that still fit me) and made my way to the funeral assembly.
I ran into the McCreights, Millers, and Horwedel's (these are the names that make up the bulk of this side of the family). They are all nice people, and it was nice to see them again. I made my way into the church and my mom and dad and sister were already seated in a pew - right side, maybe the fourth or fifth row back. It was a small church - probably smaller than our sanctuary - but nice. Although the sanctuary was painted the ungodliest two shades of pink I've ever seen. They needed a man on that committee.
Anyway, the funeral was nice. My cousin was an elder in the church, and while I think it's harder for a pastor to do a funeral for someone like that, it also makes it easier in many respects. You could tell the pastor was pretty emotional about the whole thing. Seemed like a nice guy. There was also a couple who did two songs, and did a nice job even though it was kind of southern-gospely.
It was a 1/2 hour service, then we headed to the cemetery. A firetruck led the procession (Steve was a volunteer fireman in town). We headed to the north edge of town. They didn't even need anyone to direct traffic... people just knew. A store owner on Main Street came out and stood at attention when we drove past. We pulled into the cemetery where my grandparents, great-grandparents, and several other relatives are buried (and apparently where my parents will be buried too), and had a nice committal service. Then we went back to the church for a meal. It was nice.
I didn't stick around too long, because I didn't want to drive in the dark anymore than I needed too (I still don't have full vision in my right eye). So I ate and visited long enough to not seem rude, and then I headed back home. It took me over 7 hours to get home. Partly because I took a different route, and partly because I didn't drive as fast (though I still drove pretty fast).
On the way there I took I-69S to Indy and caught I-465W, then I-865W, then I-65N, then route 32 over to I-74, then route 136 until I got to county road 13 which took me into Vermont. It was pretty slick. But on the way home I veered off of I-74 at Champaign/Urbana and took I-57 up to route 24. We usually take 24 when we go to Buda, and I'm more familiar with it, plus it was so much shorter of a distance. But there was a lot of road construction, and I just couldn't drive as fast in general. So I wished I'd taken the other route home.
I also stopped at a McDonald's (in Watseka, IL) for supper. I got a Quarterpounder and fries - I hadn't had one of those in a LONG time. I don't think I will again either. The french fries about made me sick. Uck.
I finally got home around 9:30 or 9:45, and Anna was at our house (Drew Carrie went to the hospital for Carrie to be induced at 9 pm). When I came in, Anna came running and gave me a big hug. We chatted a bit, then I took her and laid her down in her crib and she just went to sleep. A nice way to end a rather long day for me.
A surprisingly interesting part of the day was as we were leaving the cemetery, my dad wanted to look at head stones. I was amazed at how many Horwedel's there were there. I guess this is where they migrated to when they came over from Germany. I saw the one for Fridoline Valentine Horwedel - who made the violin I have. I think he is my great-great-grandfather. I think he was born in 1833, but I could be wrong. Anyway, it's nice to know there are a lot of us somewhere, because it's not a very common name otherwise (to me).
So... that was my day yesterday. I realized on the way home that I didn't turn on the radio or cd player once. I hardly ever do. Not sure why I sit in silence all day every day. I guess I just do.