Thursday, August 05, 2010

The end

Another of the reasons there has been yet more radio silence was a quick but not entirely unexpected trip I made to Arizona last weekend for my grandmother's funeral. The husband observed that with her death, his grandmother is now the only remaining grandparent on either side, meaning she was my last living grandparent and my children's last living great grandparent on my side. Gebby, as we called her (the result of a cousin's early mispronounciation of Grandma), was not your milk and cookies grandmother. She was a flamboyant woman who spoke her mind, read voraciously, and wore, exclusively, every conceivable shade of purple in every possible combination. When I was young, we were very close. I spent many days and nights at her house, often by myself, sans my many siblings, eating Lucky Charms, playing I'm thinking of and 20 Questions, going for walks, singing songs, and generally feeling like I was a lucky, lucky girl with my own private playmate.

Sadly, as I got older, we grew apart, most likely because, for a while at least, we were too much alike, both too sarcastic, too unyielding, too certain, too quick to say everything on our minds. But last year, for Thanksgiving, we got the chance to go back to Arizona, where she lived most of her life, and introduce Toddler J to Gebby. She won J over with cheetos and sang her signature song with him, Little Dog Jack. He won her over by knowing the actions and interjecting "bow wow" at the correct time. That was the last time many of my siblings got to see her before she died, though we were all able to come to the funeral, even those who live in Japan and Venezuela. Though he never got to meet her, Baby E came with me to the funeral while J stayed home with the husband. The cross country flight and funeral combination seemed too daunting to tackle with the terrible two year old, so I was grateful the husband could take some time off work to be with Toddler J.

The funeral was quite nice, actually, as far as funerals go. I sang with all the other grandchildren and even a few greatgrands, but I spent most of the service outside with Baby E, who was happy to attend but really, really wanted to nap most of all. At the good suggestion of my youngest sister, I bought and wore a purple skirt in her honor (which turned out to be fortuitous since E threw up all over my sister's black skirt before we had to leave and she ended up wearing mine). There was a short graveside service, but E and I and the rest of the very young great grandchildren and their mothers spent that time in cars because of the extreme Arizona heat. The rest of the time there we spent with the ever dwindling numbers of my immediate family as various brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews made their ways home. E and I were the last to leave; my parents dropped us off at the airport on their way out of Dodge. We even lucked into a traveling companion, one of my cousins who was on the same flight with us to Atlanta and then at the next gate over, on his way to Norfolk.

I was glad we could come though sad we needed to, but Gebby lived a good life, on her terms, something for which we should all hope.

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