Grandma Lucy has been laid to rest.
Her funeral was this past weekend in Michigan. I was insanely emotional through the entire thing, struggling to keep my wits about me. But I had a feeling that was coming; as I’ve already mentioned, this cruel dismantling of the most precious institution in my life – the marriage of my beloved grandparents – by fate or the universe or the forces of nature or WHATEVER has been hitting me harder than anticipated.
I want to record something of the funeral weekend, though. It was beautiful: filled with friends and family and heartfelt emotion, and a wonderful reminder of not only how special my grandmother was, but how loved the rest of us are, too. My cinematic grandfather, of course (whose incredible casket bouquet studded with rhinestones “to his beautiful bride” was the perfect exclamation point on the Sam + Lucy story), and also my mother.
She is absolutely, undeniably, 110% an entirely selfless human being and superhuman caregiver. Everyone who gets to know her for more than a hot second sees it; those of us who watched her nurse my father on his deathbed when she was just my age really know it. And those who were still there on the journey with her this past weekend made sure she knew it, too.
That made me happy. I hope it made her happy, too.
But it’s hard to say a lot more about what I’m feeling right now; I feel a lot of things. Lots of emotion… Sadness (obviously), that pesky bittersweet nostalgia, too; some relief, some fear; worry, regret… Pain. Longing.
I wish I’d written my book about Sam + Lucy already. Or at least started it. Darnit.
So, with all this swirling around, I feel like I have to let my sister do the rest of the talking in this post, via the fantastic eulogy she gave for Grandma Lucy…
All my life everyone has told me how much I remind them of my Grandma Jane: my father’s mother, who was, from what I can remember, the world’s most stereotypical Grandmother. I could do no wrong in her eyes; she brought me garbage bags full of gifts and would crawl around on the floor playing with me. On the other hand, Grandma Lucy once accused me of stealing her potato peeler and stuck to that story for over six months. As though I was off in a corner somewhere ferociously peeling a massive pile of potatoes for half of a year.
What I didn’t see then, but I have come to see throughout the course of my adventures in multi-generational living is… EVERYONE WAS WRONG. I do hope there’s a part of Grandma Jane in me – from what I can remember she was pretty great. But who I really want to remind people of is Grandma Lucy. She was smart, independent, strong-willed and outspoken. These traits may not translate to “grandmotherly”, but they do translate to AMAZING. She was the head lady in charge before ladies could be in charge. And I’d like to think she gave some of that to me.
I have had, and still do have, some pretty larger-than-life role models: my Grandpa Sam, who is a force unto himself; my mother, who transformed herself from June Cleaver to high-powered career woman while raising two teenagers on her own; my overachieving sister, who makes Rainman look stupid. But the most unsung of these role models was Grandma Lucy, who shaped all the rest of them with her indomitable will. And somewhere along the way we forgot to give her that credit. Maybe I was too busy peeling potatoes, but I see it now.
Sam and Lucy – they weren’t married. They were an institution. Artists have been striving for years, through every possible medium, to depict love. Well, we got to see the live version of it. There was nothing they could not and did not overcome together. Not even death. He was right there with her until the end, and she will be right there to meet him when he decides to join her. Theirs was a love that transcends and molds generations that come after them. That’s why Payton and I call each other Sammy and Lucy, and Lisa vowed to love Trent like Lucy loved Sammy. Because it is the ultimate expression of love. It inspired my mother to love my father in a way that redefined “in sickness and in health” and my Uncle Barney and Aunt Julie to love each other in a way that raises the bar for “through better and through worse”. It inspired my sister and brother in law to face the world hand in hand. And it’s helping me build a relationship with a man to last a lifetime.
Because Sammy and Lucy. That’s it. That’s all that you need to say. Sammy and Lucy.
The last close family member to pass in my life was my father. And it was so utterly tragic and unjustifiable – the kind of sorrowful death that no joy can come from. But it taught me the concept of a good death. Grandma Lucy had a good death. A death where the life is one you can celebrate. The journey was long and adventurous and filled with love and laughter. Everyone she loved had a chance to tell her just how much they loved her, and we all did. And she did the same.
And when she was ready, and on her own terms, she went in peace.
I am sad my Grandma is gone, but I am so glad she had the chance to go the way she did. And now, she has all the potato peelers her heart could ever desire.
I love you Grandma. YOU were and still are my role model.
Sarah stepped up to be the family orator when a lot of people probably expected me to do that. Only I couldn’t.
Truth is, she is stronger than me.
So add that to the list of emotions I’m experiencing: gratitude.