A break for normal operations: found eulogy
And now a tiny blip of a break from the day to day stuff…..
When we first bought this place that is now Purgatory Auto Works and Dinosaur Farm, the domain purgatory.org had been for many years my personal website. It had seen several incarnations and several blog setups. The most recent of which was a precursor of this site (stega.org) and the slowly being developed new site networkgirl.org site (more on that soon I promise.)
Stega.org was first splintered off from Purgatory to be a more bloggy blog around 2009 and Purgatory.org was meant to be a photography website. This was back when I thought I’d leave the world of computer networks and become yet another girl with a camera hocking her photos to pay some bills. While that idea and site didn’t didn’t linger or have much interesting content, one post from the whole experiment was worth preserving.
In 2013 my paternal grandmother passed away after a short illness at the tail-end of the long-goodbye that is Alzheimer’s/dementia. I felt moved to write something and I’m glad I did, as while the church where her funeral took place had been the church she attended regularly for many years, in the almost seventeen years since my grandfather’s passing and her slow decline, the clergy changed and no priest present at the service actually knew my grandmother. Thus when it came time for the full Catholic funeral mass to take place, the homily the priest chose to give was the rather horrible and very antiquated heaven/hell/purgatory one. For those not Catholic or knowledgeable about things catholic, this means the priest stood up and said “let’s hope Bernadette did enough good so that she’s in heaven or at least made it to the half-way house of purgatory where she can continue to work towards being allowed into heaven, and oh yes, by the way all you sinners before me, make sure you are good so you don’t end up in hell or purgatory.
Needless to say it was a pretty dismal service punctuated only by the snickers from my parents, who upon hearing the priest’s lead up to the whole heaven vs hell were only too happy to mutter “dot org” whenever said priest said the word “purgatory.”
Seeing as my father was an only child I am one of only two grandchildren, I had planned ahead and upon arriving at the church I arranged with the clergy that after the homily I would then read (from my iPad) what I had written, and years later I’m still glad I did so. (Even though I was raised catholic, I stopped attending masses years and years ago, as I find any religion just to be a money grab out to exert social control.)
Here is what I read. Remember, I wrote it really really quickly with no time to edit. Sure there are things I would change now, but oh well. At least something better than the whole heaven/hell/purgatory spiel was said.
Monday, when my mum called at seven in the morning me to tell me the news that my grandmother had died, I was not completely awake, so it took a bit for the news to register–about one latte to be exact.
I find this awkward introduction rather amusing and rather sad. First, because my own mental state upon hearing of my grandmother’s death matched her mental state over the last few years, and secondly, because my mental state at the time mirrored my grandmother’s over the last few years.
And that’s the double edged sword of having a relative with alzheimers, dementia, or whatever else it can be called. As time’s arrow progresses, what starts as forgetfulness, slowly becomes a sense of distracted attention until finally an almost infantile fog descends. Slowly, bit by bit, the person we love seems to slip away, yet somewhere, deep inside something remains, and we see it in brief, but brilliant flashes of recognition.
Since my grandfather, her husband of over fifty-four years passed away, she really had been taking her last, very long goodbye. And for those of us close to my grandmother, it’s hard for us to remember what my she was like before she got sick. So, in these past few days while in our own fog that accompanies loss, we’ve been telling each other stories as we seek to reacquaint ourselves with the woman who was a child, a wife, a sister, a mother (a working mother to boot,) a grandmother and even a great grandmother.
So as we say our goodbyes I want to share a few of my memories of my grandma.
I will always remember the kitchen floor where my grandfather taught me to play marbles and I would sit for what seemed like hours while my grandmother cooked or watched her favorite soap opera “The Young and the Restless”–this was back when the Hoff was young and hot.
I remember taking bubble baths and then standing on top of the toilet seat so my tall or “Big” grandma could more easily towel me dry. I think that after raising my father she was quite delighted to have two girls for grandchildren.
I remember many summers when I would stay with them for a week, and my grandmother would set up the hose and sprinkler in the backyard. There are even a few memories of heading to the local public pool where my grandmother still cut a fine figure with her Ann Miller-rivaling legs.
I remember the beautiful white pleated skirt she would often wear when she and my grandfather went out dancing and how that skirt entered family legend when she rescued a stray dog after one evening at the Aragon ballroom. That Luckey dog, who was soon to become my family’s dog, refused to ride in the back seat of the yellow station wagon and would only ride in the front seat that night–thus necessitating a trip to the dry cleaner for that lovely white skirt.
I remember the late night movies I’d try to stay up for when sleeping over; the attic that always had something interesting tucked in a corner, the Avon Catalogs the could be turned into endless mathematical story problems (and the samples she’d save for my sister and I;) and the seemingly endless walk up a dark hill one halloween that just the two of us made when I was only 7 or 8.
So, like Russel in the movie _UP_ said, “It might sound boring, but I think boring stuff is the stuff I remember the most”.
Those are just some of the memories I have and will always have of my grandmother. Hopefully you have many of your own that can tell yourselves and those close to you. Stories about the woman born during the First World War who could play any song she heard on her piano, who loved to laugh, who managed to find a lasting love during war time in the 40s and then raise a fine son and later a good parent in his own right. Or perhaps you’ll just remember Bernadette’s smile, as through all of those almost 97 years, it was the one thing that never failed her.