Written from north GA while preparing for Gram’s funeral. By the way, funeral is set for Sat at 2pm. Coart’s doing all the speaking. I’m doing the music.
Death is a doorway, a waystop on the journey of life and our terminology reflects it.
I like that people tell stories when they gather for a funeral. You start to hear all kinds of stuff about the second cousin who accidentally set the barn on fire, or the creepy real-life ghost story from the old “home place” up in Such-N-Such county, or the stone d cousin who woke up from her stupor to discover her mom wasn’t around at the time so she assumed the rapture had taken place and she missed it. (That last one I didn’t make up. I swear.)
Family trees get reconstructed at times like this. You hear amazing names that no baby-name-book would ever think of (especially in the South!). You find out things, like the fact that there’s a British branch of the Ramey family: one of Monty’s uncles in WWII fathered a child in England. Cloe (that’s Gram) used to write to the boy, and at one point he sent a picture of himself to the States.
She was one of the most ordinary people in Habersham County, yet extraordinary in her ability to simply love people. It wasn’t a gushy, mushy, touchy-feely love. It was the real, hard-nosed, hard-working kind of love thatdoes things for people without having to talk about it. Refreshing to find someone who was a Christian instead of just talking like one.
Gram had known her Savior for a long time and there’s no way in this world I would have done anything to prolong her days on an accursed planet like this one. But John Donne was right when he warned us that we cannot ignore the massive sense of LOSS that accompanies a death.
Losing a human from our population diminishes us all. We are connected, like tiny threads criss-crossing and webbing all of humanity into a living, breathing organism. No one else will ever exist with Gram’s particular combination of gifts, talents, memories, quirks.
All of the history she lived –the Depression, WWII, the post-war baby boom, desegregation, the turbulent 60s – is now detached from our little circle of reality. She was the storyteller; we were the listeners. Now we are the vessels for stories we can only carry, not know from experience. Like Lois Lowry’s Giver, we can describe, but we cannot make others (or even ourselves) experience.