We left Thursday morning for Grandpa Banks’ funeral in California. It was the first airplane ride for Charlie and Colson, and the first flight for Jason and I with children. I was terrified. After getting past security, I took Charlie to the bathroom and he peed on his pants while trying to sit on the toilet. He also peed on my pants in the process. Great way to start with no change of clothes. Max and April’s family were on our flight too. That was super nice. You never know what to expect (and I usually expect the worst), but Charlie loved it and Colson did great with lots of snacks and the iPad. I’m so glad it was just a short flight. We flew into LAX, which is a crazy airport, and had to wait in a huge line for the car rental. After sitting in a plane, a long line was the last thing we were expecting to come upon. So glad Colson was asleep for most of it.
After we finally got our car, our family and Max’s family made a mad dash to Rubios for lunch and then headed to the viewing at Forest Lawn Cemetery. It was definitely a tender moment seeing Grandpa lying there in the casket. It was still surreal that he was really gone. Luckily we had our own little room at the funeral home because the cousins were going wild. You can’t blame them for being excited to see each other.
For dinner we went to McDonalds. The kids had a blast playing in the play area. Charlie kept talking about going back to that McDonalds for weeks afterwards. He loved it.
Duke, although just nine months older than Charlie, was obsessed with Colson all weekend. He loved chasing him and giving him anything he thought Colson might want, like soft blankets. It was hilarious and very sweet. Duke is still obsessed with Colson.
Over the weekend, we stayed at Steve and Annette’s house in Glendale. The rest of the cousins and family stayed at Alli’s place in Toluca Lake (She is staying in one of the Corday’s houses that her mother used to live in). So after McDonalds, we headed to the Banks’ house to settle for the night. Steve and Annette’s house is so classy and comfortable. It is beautiful. They gave our family the master bedroom. It felt like we were in a nice bed and breakfast hotel! We slept Charlie on the floor and had Colson in the bathroom in a pack n’ play. They have a bull dog named Muffin and the boys came to really love him. Colson would say “wuff wuff” every morning as soon as he woke up because he wanted to see Muffin in the kitchen and the birds in the bird feeder out the window. They also loved the train toys that they had. It was seriously such a nice stay, and it was nice getting to know them even better.
Friday morning, we headed to Forest Lawn for the funeral service. It was a great ceremony. There was a lot of love in that room. There were lots of great stories and memories of Grandpa Banks. There were a lot of tears. It was just beautiful. The entryway was decorated with his art and other things. It was a great celebration of his life and legacy and all of the lessons he taught us. What stands out to me is his genuine kindness towards others and his positive attitude. He was always so grateful and knew how to make you feel comfortable. He seemed to truly love life and he had an undeniable love for his wife, Patsy. So glad to have had him in my life.
It was pouring rain during the graveside service. It was torrential! Umbrellas were breaking and the wind was blowing the rain sideways. Colson had been fussy during the funeral service and it didn’t cease for the graveside service. I ended up having to march through the rain and take him to the car because he was crying and cold. After that, we had lunch at the traditional Viva restaurant. The kids were running amok and loving it! Then we headed to Alli’s to hang out before going back to the Banks’ for bed.
Making up Grandpa:
On Saturday we took a quick family picture in Alli’s backyard with the Go Pro sitting on a table. It turned out pretty good, considering. Next up was Zuma Beach and Mount Dume. There was a wedding going on there and emergency personnel also ended up arriving because there was a lady who fell and got stuck while rappelling on a nearby cliff. So it was quite exciting and eventful. But beyond that, it was Colson’s first time at the beach. He loved the seagulls. Charlie loved chasing the seagulls and being chased by the waves. He loved the sand and running around. The waves were actually crazy big and we had to keep a close eye on the kids by the water. We took a quick hike from the beach to Mount Dume. It was really pretty and really windy. We headed back to Alli’s for pizza dinner, treats, and playing, but only after taking a drive around her neighborhood to see all of the great houses and celebrity homes). Then we were back to the Banks.
Sunday was Annette’s birthday. The Gruber gang went to church and then went to see Grandpa Banks’ grave. We saw the beautiful mosaics there at Forest Lawn. Then we had to head back to the Banks’ to pack up. Jason made a quick visit with Steve to see James at work. He sells Teslas and Jason was able to test drive one, autopilot and all! It was a real treat. Jason loved it and couldn’t believe the speed. While Jason did that, Annette played with Charlie and Colson in the backyard while I packed up. She is so good and sweet with them.
And just like that it was time to head out. The rest of the Gruber gang was staying until Monday, but we had to come home for work. Thanks to traffic, we made it to the terminal just in time to board the plane. It was a full flight so we were split up, sitting two rows from each other. I sat with Colson on my lap and Jason sat next to Charlie two rows in front. Just my luck, I was sitting in the middle seat with a huge fat guy to my left (who’s belly was extending two or three inches past the shared arm rest) and another big-boned man to my right. He just leaned over as far as he could towards the aisle and tried to sleep. I tried to handle Colson in the middle there and he did pretty well until the last 30 minutes. It turned into a complete nightmare. It really couldn’t be worse! He started freaking out and was unconsolable! It must have been ear pressure from the descent. He wouldn’t eat or look at anything for 30 minutes. My attempts were futile! He wouldn’t take anything! No bottle, no treats, no suckers, no book, no iPad. Nothing! That is never the case with him. He was constantly trying to climb up me and thrashing around. It was non-stop crying for 30 minutes. I felt embarrassed, but mostly I just felt bad for Colson. He must have been in so much pain. People rows up from Jason started passing back suckers. Oh man, it was awful.
After that fiasco, Bryan picked us up from the airport. He had our car cleaned, inside and out, including a tire and mat shine. We went to my parents house and they fed us dinner and we had brownies before going home. After such a great trip, it was hard to be back to the grind. Charlie kept it in our thoughts as he kept saying he wanted a “Muffin house” and that he was missing his cousin, Oliver.
It’s funny how now I associate funerals with great family gatherings and memories. Nothing else brings the family together so instantly and so spontaneously. It is wonderful!