Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Family of Talkers

Today is the final day of memorial duties for Grandma Byrd. I am glad. While I appreciate all the food, it is not on my diet and I am suffering from wheat, vinegar and potato overload. Yes, I could just not eat it, but that would be rude. And, while seeing family is good, seeing too much of family can be bad. I am ready for my life to return to some semblance of normal.

When Dad died, there was no semblance of normal. We had to make new normals for everything. I wonder what "normal" without grandma will be like.

Yesterday's memorial service was the funniest I have ever attended. Remember that line from The Addams' Family when Morticia is reminiscing about meeting Gomez at his cousin Balthazar's funeral:  "Your eyes, your mustache, your laugh."

Grandma was a funny lady, and I think she would have liked that her funeral was full of funny stories, heart-felt appreciation and deep respect. I didn't cry until the last song "Abide With Me." I've never heard it. Why was it special to grandma? What meaning did it hold for her? I don't know. I can't ask now.

My cousin Bil...what is the verb?...presided? performed? conducted? the service. He did a fantastic job. This is only the second time I've heard him preach, and the first was at his other grandma's service. If he continues to do well, he may be conducting services for all our family members. I write the obits; he performs the service. What a legacy.

Two family members spoke about grandma, and spoke well. As they talked, exceeding the 3-minute time limit half-heartedly set before the service, I realized we are -with a very few exceptions- a family of talkers.

I remember taking friends home to meet The Fam and having them complain about everyone talking at once. Well, at the Byrd House the only way to be heard was to be louder. If you didn't interrupt, you didn't speak. This is in direct opposition to how it's done in some other homes, I learned. I had one friend whose family spoke together almost like a scene from Pride and Prejudice, waiting for the eldest to pronounce judgment and then chiming in in chronological order. I found it weird.

Grandma rarely talked with me. If I understand yesterday's stories, she was mostly a listener. I tried to be interesting for her in those last years when she was homebound. I tried to tell her about my life and the world outside. I don't know if she heard me. Mom tells me grandma enjoyed it when I was there, 'though I couldn't tell. In the end, I would just sit on the bed while she watched infomercials.

I didn't know my grandma like other people knew my grandma. I shouldn't be surprised by this. I rarely do things like other people.

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