Life

She had a magnificent sense of humor.

I’ll always remember that about her; like the way I remember my grandmother’s cooking.

 She had a wicked sense of humor, too.

 I love that in a human and I thank the god of rubber chickens that I got some of that in the gene pool lottery.  It can go either way, you know.

Being the family girl that I am – despite my cynical nature toward  anything middle-American with WASP-y populations of 10,000 or less – I packed my carry on and donned my best funeral game-face.  I would be a necessary link in the chain of family support and, in exchange for said support,  be fed copious amounts of fruit infused gelatin and church-lady dishes that materialize like magic from beyond the cavernous kitchen of the First Baptist Church. 

 Man, I love those church ladies.

 I love my super cool family more especially when they put with my left-coast, downward dog, granola-eating, liberal bullshit noise that I’m certain they make fun of behind my back.  It’s okay.  I know you love me, super cool family!

But damn!  Illinois is one hot son of a bitch in June.  The only living organism that thrives on it is corn.  It was tall-man high and green and healthy as a vegetable has a right to be (thanks to our “ag-friendly” buddies at Monsanto and their insect repelling, genetically modified seeds).   I forgot how much corn there was.  Even with the Gvillo farm long gone and replaced by a useless regional airport runway there is corn as far as the eye can see.  Funny what one forgets……and then remembers at exactly the right time when it can be pulled out and shamelessly exploited as a blog post.  Oh, how I love that!

I used to make fun of the place.  Okay, “used to” is the wrong term:  see above.  But I think there’s a difference now.  There’s a nagging guilt attached to the ridicule.  Maybe it’s age.  Maybe it’s death forcing me to look at life rather than skim across it like those river mayflies I had also forgotten until now.  I almost find myself yearning for the place.  Thankfully, the yearning passes after a few days of 115 degrees and 24-hour Wal-Marts where people have actually been known to get married.  

But I’m getting waaay too serious and this post is about funny.  Death, of course, is not funny.  But funny things can happen when people pass.  In my warped brain, this memory of death made me laugh in a genuine, honest way that honors the essence of a life that I will strive to remember. Unlike the oceans of corn that fell victim to my Swiss-cheese of a memory. 

This little nugget of humor is courtesy of a child.   I don’t know her well but she knew her great-gram very well.  Better than me since I’ve been absent from my roots and my “kin folk” for longer than I realize.   So I gladly accept being upstaged by a 6 year old.

The scene was typical small-town wake:  a mortuary run by the same family for decades, a modest room full of folding chairs, subdued lighting, the smell of carnations and rosewood, a podium to sign your name so the family knew you took the time to come. Mostly older folks speak in low tones but a few kids snake their way through the walkers and polyester and disturb the relative peace. 

A COMICAL LITTLE GIRL of about 6, takes the hand of her YOUNGER COUSIN and leads him to the polished wood coffin.  A gorgeous arrangement of roses and sunflower sits atop the closed end.   The rosewood coffin – in keeping with folksy tradition – is open to reveal the body of someone you barely recognize but are obliged to say “didn’t they do a nice job on her?”

 COMICAL LITTLE GIRL

Go head. Touch great-gram.

 YOUNGER COUSIN

No.

COMICAL LITTLE GIRL

It’s okay.  You won’t get in trouble

YOUNGER COUSIN

I know.

COMICAL LITTLE GIRL

You don’t have to be afraid.

YOUNGER COUSIN

I’m not afraid.

What a liar. The boy clasps his hands behind his back just in case the brave one forces the issue.  The comical little girl reaches up and touches her great-gram on the arm with a pointed index finger.

 COMICAL LITTLE GIRL

You really should touch her.  She’s as hard as a rock.

 I guess it wouldn’t have been appropriate to tell that story at the church service?  My aunt would have loved that! She would have laughed until she peed her pull-ups then wheeled around to every one of her care center homies retelling the story again and again making them laugh too. 

Yeah. That story is number one with a bullet on Auntie’s Great Hits.  But then again, the photo of her giving death the finger is moving up quick.

Love you.

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Joanie
Joanie
July 3, 2009 3:11 am

You are right, Auntie would have peed her pull-up and then called all her friends and family! She was a hoot. I’m going to miss that happy soul but have such good memories to keep. I used to take her grocery shopping and when we would hit the cool fruit/vegie department we would both have to race to the bathroom. One day she didn’t make it! I had to get plastic bags and cover my car seat. We laughed and laughed about that until the day she died. I love someone that can laugh about themselves. It’s a sign of… Read more »

Kitty
July 3, 2009 6:07 am

Ahahahaha. Funny kid.

And you’re such a great storyteller. Keep ’em coming Julie.

Hugs.

michele
July 3, 2009 5:07 pm

I love stories like that!

Jennifer Melton
Jennifer Melton
August 2, 2009 12:02 am

First off, I have never heard a cross word said about you 🙂 We all think you are awesome. Thank you for telling the story, and yes Grandma would have been laughing her butt off. She was an awesome lady and she is very missed. She could definitely laugh at just about anysituation life gave her. Everyone at the nursing home said they didn’t know anyone that could endure the last 5 years like she did. She was a trooper.