My grandmother died last Saturday. She was 90.
This was all the things you assume it will be – sad, hard, peaceful, strange. Many people have lost grandparents, but until last week I was still a virgin.
I was a 27 year old with all four grandparents. I was, and still am, very lucky.
Yesterday was my grandmother’s memorial service, and it was really beautiful. It was so “her” that I kept expecting her to pop up in her white turtle neck, khaki pant ensemble that she wore year round. That feeling is confusing. I’m sure it is also because her death is so new, but warm sunshine, sturdy New Hampsire wood and her various sculptures really bring out her presence.
I guess it is a testament to us humans that in death we still feel and are very much alive. This must also be why people see Elvis all over the place.
My grandmother was really magnificent – stunning but also quirky, extremely liberal and sharp with impeccable manners. She was polite not because she had to be, but because that was how she liked to treat people. She was an amzing artist, she read voraciously, she loved Greek mythology and disliked George Bush greatly. Still, she never hated anyone. She was really open to all people. My grandmother was not like all the nanas my friends had with puffy hairdos, tiny dogs and bright track suits. She wore interesting silver jewelry and sat at her pottery wheel listening to NPR, and invited all her grandkids to join her. She is also pretty impossible to describe in a few words, though my cousin Wes did so masterfully yesterday in his reading at her memorial service.
In short, to know my grandmother was to want her to be around forever.
My grandmother was also pretty hilarious, though half the time I think it was unintentional. My whole life she had always referred to “taking a poop” as “making a bee-am”. Bee-am was the word she used, pronounced “bee-ehm”. It was only a few years ago that I realized that she had abbreviated “bowel movement” as “B.M.” and incorporated it into our large family’s vernacular. I completely thought bee-am was a synonym for poop, a classy noun only the most well-mannered, intelligent and discreet people used.
Which, I guess, it was.