I am no good at eulogizing. Sure, I can probably write an okay one, but getting up and actually speaking through my sadness is virtually impossible for me. I choke up over commercials and baseball games. To speak of love and loss at a time when I am experiencing both so vividly would be impossible for me. I know. I've tried it. It's not pretty.
When my father passed away, I wrote down a few heartfelt lines. We had a rocky relationship that was just turning around when he left me for good. That horrible feeling of guilt and grief and regret and FOREVER weighed heavily on me and still does.
So, I wrote a few lines. In my head, they sounded exactly as I meant them; exactly as I wanted to say them to him, ALIVE. Instead, the funeral director butchered them and I added another regret: not just saying it to him when he was able to hear me.
So now, I speak them to the wind, to the air in my living
room, to a cat who is looking at me as if she understands. I speak them to a mirror image that bears a resemblance to his tired face. I speak them as a prayer, though I do not pray; not really.
I had a chance to give a eulogy this past week and I did not. Afraid the words wouldn't come; afraid they would, but with them, tears. I was afraid to not do her life justice. I was afraid that maybe I didn't know her as well as I could have.
I think she would have understood.
My mom wrote a beautiful and informative piece for her obituary:
My grandmother died eight days ago. She died as she lived, without much fanfare and quietly, dignified, she left us.
It was sudden for us. Maybe it seems strange to say that a 90 year old woman dying was a shock, but it was. She hadn't been sick for long, she hadn't been in the hospital more than four days when we got the call. Her voice is still on my answering machine. It makes me desperately sad and forever grateful to technology in equal parts. I have guilt over how quickly (or not) I returned the call; probably not quickly enough for a lonely old woman reaching out to her oldest grandchild.
She really loved to talk on the phone in her later years.
I have to admit that I sometimes dreaded those conversations. I dreaded the talk about the weather, the small talk, her forgetfulness. I hated the awkward silences and her talk of aging and slowing down. I didn't want to be reminded that she wouldn't be with us forever.
Sometimes, though, we would have long, deep conversations about life. I loved those, however rare they were. She really got me in ways that many others did not.
She understood my longing to be closer to home, because she had moved away from hers and always longed to go back. She knew what it felt like to be a young mom with no real friends in your husband's neighborhood, not yours. She knew how lonely it felt.
She knew that pink was my color even as I railed and objected whenever she bought me something to wear. Sullen adolescents do not wear pink, especially tom-boyish ones. I got mad at her for what I perceived as her not "getting" who I really was. Now, I seek out pink, and sure enough, it looks good on me. She was right, of course.
I can't imagine it was easy for her to have me as her first grandchild. I came as a package deal with my mom when my step dad (hereafter referred to as "Dad") married her when I was four. Sure, I was blond and cute and could have passed for his daughter anyway, but I wasn't and that must have been hard, at least at first.
She was never demonstrative or overly affectionate, but that was just her way. She didn't dole out "I love yous". She had her way of letting you know, by listening and quietly observing and teaching. She never made me feel less than, even when my sister and brother came along.
So, I write this to remember, to share her, to celebrate the wonderful person she was. Rest in peace, Grams. I'll miss you forever and I will always think of you when I see pansies.