My Grandmother died recently. She died July 17th, 2013, succumbing to complications which were caused by a stroke she suffered back in 1986. I was 5 years old when she had her stroke and I still remember going to the hospital to see her. I remember being horrified by the machines which kept her body alive, and the outlook regarding her survival was bleak. Doctors then told my family she wouldn’t make it out of the coma. But miraculously she did. For the next 27 years she lived with the side affects of this horrendous event, but she lived with grace and dignity, never uttering any complaints of the limitations which she then endured. She would reminisce on past events, the good times, never wishing her life was still like it was. Since it is difficult for me to express my emotions verbally, I figured the best way to honor her in my way would be to write her a letter detailing the humorous events which transpired this evening, me being the target of these humorous events. And sharing it with the world. So I’m breaking my tales of relationship do’s and don’t in honor of my Grandmother.
I hope Heaven is as big of a deal as everyone says it is. When I picture you I see you smiling and chatting with members of our family who have passed years ago. I see you in a navy polyester suit and red turtlenecky shirt. I don’t know why. Your probably rockin’ your tiger striped jumpsuit but, in my vision, maybe the jumpsuit is too informal and sexy for such an occasion. I hope Grandpa is well too, make sure to tell him I said hi. I also hope there are domino game tournaments which I know you will kill at.
I wanted to tell you about what happened to me this evening at your funeral. Well, visitation, but it’s all part of it. Your son, my mother, and I arrived promptly at 5 p.m. as instructed by the family. We spent the first 10 minutes looking at the flowers and making nice comments about the many people who cared about you and sent such beautiful bouquets. By 5:30 the rest of the family had arrived. This is when the dysfunctional circus for me started.
In lieu of the famous tiger striped jumpsuit you wore, memorialized in pictures taken at your 25th anniversary party before I was born, I felt it appropriate to wear my leopard print underwear in your honor. The family greeted each other, and as I stood next to your 5th grandchild (the one who was obsessed with Zena the warrior princess and walked around with her walking stick one summer when she was a teenager), I noticed her wearing the cutest pair of leopard print flats. Laughing I turned to our warrior princess and discretely told her I was wearing leopard print underwear in honor of you. She scoffed and rolled her eyes which caught the attention of the rest of the family. “What?” they all asked to which she replied (to my horror) “Oh, Samantha felt it was appropriate to inform me she is wearing her leopard print..oohhh”. She cut off there at the end but the damage was done and irreversible. I’ll never forget the stares, the “sheeshes” from grandchild 3, your oldest son’s eye roll and head shake, your middle son’s (my dad’s) head drop and nervous head shake, my mother’s “Samantha!”, and my aunts look which said “Are you kidding me right now..at your Grandmother‘s funeral??”. (LOL). Thank God everyone was so uncomfortable we quickly disbanded. This happened at 5:35 p.m.
Visitation started promptly at 6:00 p.m. We spent our time together looking at pictures of you and laughing at the ones which brought back funny memories, loving comments of you, and what you meant in our lives. (Don’t worry, we promptly displayed the 25th anniversary/tiger strip jumpsuit pictures front and center) Your baby sister arrived 6:05 p.m. and had a really hard time keeping it together right off the bat, which is understandable, and I almost lost it there for a minute. I didn’t want to lose it Grandma, especially at the beginning of the visitation. So I walked to join my mother’s friend who came to pay her respects. Mother’s friend put her arm around me (mistake # 1) and said (mistake # 2) “Oh honey, you don’t have any Grandma’s left.” I looked at her bewildered not knowing how to respond except “Wow..did you bring arrows with you today??” She then said (mistake # 3) “You lost all your Grandma’s and Grandpa’s!” Astonished by the fact this freight train wasn’t stopping I looked over at my mother and asked “Is she for real??” The final comment was “Oh, you”re just too young to lose your Grandparents at your age!” Having enough of this tactless verbal exchange, I headed for the ladies room to regroup. It was 6:08 p.m. by this time.
Can I ask you how is it even possible Uncle Bill is still alive?? I was SHOCKED to see him walk into the funeral home (Well..hobble). I thought he kicked the bucket 20 years ago!! Even though he is walking ok, standing for him is another feat entirely. At around 6:33 p.m., I was talking to family over by your casket when Uncle Bill came hobbling over and started falling. He started falling on me. I would liken it to that drunk friend who is standing next to you then suddenly they lose their balance, regain it, lose it again, then regain it. Grandma, I thought he was dying. This was my 5 second thought process. “Oh holy Jesus, Uncle Bill is going to die right here. Right Here!! At my Grandmother’s funeral, right in front of her casket. And he is going to die on me!! He is going to keel over and fall right on top of me. On top of everything that has happened to me this hour, Uncle Bill is going to die on me!! At least we are at a funeral home. We could make it a twofer”. But he didn’t die. Instead the helpful individual who grabbed his arm to steady him got more then they bargained for when he threw them off and promptly hobbled to the corner chair, where he remained the rest of the evening. My guess is you will be seeing Uncle Bill soon.
(Insert ssiigghh here) So there you have it. Thank God we got out of there at 8:30. I’m sorry I can’t make it to the funeral tomorrow, but given the embarrassments suffered, I’m pretty relieved. But I’m sure you’re ok with it. I gotta go now, but I will see you on the other side. Oh and *Charlotte Grace, your doggie great-grandchild, say’s hi!!
Samantha E. Texer
*Charlotte Grace is not to be confused with Charlotte Grant. Charlotte Grace is my St. Bernard. I’m sure she will get mentioned in future postings.