It was the beginning of an extraordinary weekend that had me at the airport at 4:30 am. The hour…somewhere in the middle of “out too late” and “up too early”…leaving you to wonder why a person would ever choose to sport fish.
Around me, folks were in long lines wearing platform shoes, poorly spread self tanner, excited smiles and Hawaiian shirts while a gale blew outside the airports’ walls. They were heading to sunny locations, tropical breezes…enough warmth to comfort their aching winter bones and sooth their weary hearts.
I was in a much shorter line…dragging behind me a hastily packed bag of dark, heavy dress clothes…as mine was not the adventure of theirs. However, after two full days at the funeral home…far too exhausted at the end of each to know the difference between up and down…one amazing send off at the end of it all…it hit me…
I didn’t need the tropical vacation to feel the warmth. The ice, the sleet, the pounding rain…the snow covered ground at the gravesite…nothing could stop the feeling that I’d been warmed from the inside out. My heart bursting with pride as my family…the people I belong to and where I come from…were better than the warmth of any tropical sun.
The laughter and love was infectious. My sweet and wonderful, frugal and practical, kind and giving grandmother raised her family to be “one.” Each of us are different in many ways yet all blend with the same respect and love for one another not to mention a ridiculous, twisted sense of humour that binds us all and makes us whole.
We joked, sang, teased and carried on. We held each other up and as one became weak, the others became strong…supporting one another…holding each other…cracking a joke in the middle of the sadness until crying and laughter became one sound.
Nan chose to have the longest funeral wake I’d ever experienced…she’d planned every detail with twenty hours in total open for people to visit and even more time set aside for family to grieve alone. We arrived and stayed…no one wanting to leave or close the doors at the end of the night…surprised by the hundreds of people who crossed the door throughout the weekend but so relevant to the way she lived her life. Her home was always open for anyone to visit at any time so long as she had a moment in the morning to put on a lovely outfit she’d found “on sale” and set her hair.
We felt the bittersweet joy of a life well lived. We bonded over tired feet, cups of tea, pudding and sauce, egg salad sandwiches, coffee with baileys, boxes of tissues, robbing banks, joining the convent, white gloves, little bunny foo foo, camera flashes, days of the week, fabulous memories and childhood stories. We celebrated a remarkable woman resting quietly in a room full of big personalities as one story after the next was told, guitars were brought out and songs were sang. Those who couldn’t attend were with us…part of the gathering.
While Nan truly was our anchor and will be dearly missed she’ll never be gone…she’s in us. In each of her ten children and their families…her twenty grandchildren, her eighteen great grandchildren and all of those still to be welcomed into this family she admired and loved.
Who admired and loved her more.