Whole and Normal

Ambivalence surrounded my family this weekend. We travelled to Camrose, Alberta for my grandmother’s funeral and then to Medicine Hat, Alberta for my brother’s ordination.

Grandma’s burial was prior to the actual service, with a family lunch in between.

I come from a large family, and this was the first time in 20 years so many cousins were in one place at one time. We were only missing four out of 17, actually.

Therefore, we were required to take photos. It felt strange and a bit rude or something but when I think further on it, taking family photos at a family event does make sense. Even if the event wasn’t the happiest reason to gather, I was still pleased to see everyone again. And to have photographic proof of said event.

See? Everything’s all ambivalent.

Something about Alberta, which I conveniently forgot about, is its special wind.

It’s a wind that never, ever goes away. In any weather. So, our family photos aren’t exactly posed professionally. Mostly we’re just trying to keep our clothes on.

The photo up above is my immediate family at my grandparent’s farm. The farm isn’t in the family anymore but the new owners let us take a nostalgic look around. I have fantastical memories from this farm and it was good to go back.

However, only the framework is still there. The place is no longer “grandma and grandpa’s farm,” it’s just a farm. It was closure to see the place changed and altered, serving a new purpose for new people. Things have changed dramatically and yet life is continuing.

The funeral service was incredibly beautiful and the church was so full. I had the opportunity to speak and could not compose myself at all. All the same, I would’ve regretted not speaking, even at the expense of sobbing loudly and letting my nose run in public.

Afterwards, and well into the afternoon, we said our goodbyes and headed four or five driving hours south to my brother’s pad.

Sunday morning we went to church to see my brother’s ordination as a youth pastor. It was really cool and significant to witness my brother not only having success and being able to celebrate with him in his achievements, but also to get to know the place he ditched BC for.

I could never quite understand why, after growing up in Eden (slight exaggeration perhaps), he would move to the badlands (literal name for the area he lives in). It didn’t make any sense.

However, it turns out Medicine Hat isn’t so “bad.”

Literally the middle of nowhere, yes.

Flat, flat, flat, yes.

In the desert, where all the dinosaur bones were found, yes.

But not bad.

For example, there’s a giant teepee.

And yes, that’s how they spell it in The Hat.

And yes, I do believe it’s the World’s Largest Teepee.

Also, people in Medicine Hat play fast and loose with punctuation, which is always “fun.”

You read “correctly.” The overuse of quotation “marks,” is abundant. And “hilarious.”

I couldn’t “stop” using them when we were saying “goodbye” to “my brother” this afternoon.

On the “verge” of sounding insincere (Eg. Bye, I’ll “miss” you) we put a stop to things by “me” getting in the car and my brother closing the “door” to his house.

But, apparently I still am finding great “humour” in this game.

How could I not? It’s the Albertan version of Mad Libs.