I wrote this the morning of my grandmother's funeral, and read it to my family at the wake, standing in my grandmother’s kitchen. When I first entered her house I cried because I was the first one there, and I saw her empty shoes, paired off and waiting for feet that would not be coming home. Once the lights were on and the house was filled up there was a lot more laughing than I would have expected. She was a funny lady, and remembering her made us laugh. There was also a lot of crying. But I must say that at the end of the day, the longest day ever, I felt much closer to my family.
My Grandmother Josie was sweet and non-judgmental. She was absolutely hilarious, and had an irresistible giggle. She was forever tipping the English language on its head with phrases like, “The cat’s pajamas” and “Shed some light on your subject” and “Good show”. When something was funny she would gesture that it was too much with a chuckley, “Lord to-DAY.” To tinkle was to “make music” and there was corresponding shuffle dance to go along with her announcement.
She scouted flea markets in search of that perfect something for each her seven children, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Whether it was silver jewelry, ducks or dolls she would scout and when she found it she would present it to us, our own personal treasure hunter. At Christmas time the largest box would always be from Grandma, and it might not be the rock tumbler or coffee maker featured on the box but it was sure to include something really cool, plus some socks, bath oil beads, decks of Vegas cards and tic-tacs.
I remember once sitting on her lap as a youngster. She was stroking my hair and speaking to me in a soft voice, lulling me. I was asking her about her about her youth and she told me that she used to be the one to pick the family chicken for dinner. She would sit the chicken in her lap and stroke the bird, singing to it, lulling it. Then, when the bird had relaxed she would break its neck. I was dumbfounded, and then realized there was more to my Grandma than I could ever really know. From then on she got 60% less sass mouth from me.
A friend of mine gave me a comforting thought and reminded me that she lives on in my children. That every now and then I will see her peeking out of their eyes. I also rest easier knowing that where I used to have to drive to see her, now she is wherever I am.
I believe that I know have a very sweet and funny guardian angel, watching over me. She is ageless and weightless and filled with joyous light. She has wings and a big gleaming halo. She beat all the saints at cards this morning and she has all their golden pennies.
And she reminds us that what we all have is more time, and love, the two greatest gifts of all.