Been back in town, but not really social or sociable. The service for Grandma went as well as could be expected. Grandpa wasn’t there–not that I can fault him, he’s really not taking it well. The only time he showed any life at all was when we brought the girls over: as soon as he saw his great-granddaughters, his whole face lit up and he just … well, came alive. That said, I’m really not optimistic that he’ll be with us much longer. He looked tired, the same way my other grandpa did before he died. :(

Unexpectedly came out of the pulpit–so to speak–to Mom about being an atheist. She’s going to have to learn that she doesn’t get to ask me to question my beliefs anymore, unless she’s willing to face the hard questions about hers. I know she’s mis-remembering my late Grandpa’s attitude; she claims that he’d had a conversion experience when he had a heart attack in ’89, but I clearly remember her telling me that he said he saw nothing during the time he was clinically dead. Now she says that he saw the afterlife and converted back to the church. No doubt she thinks this for her own peace of mind–I will note only that she breathed not a word of this while Grandpa was still alive.

Whatever. I’m guilty of believing things just to make myself feel better, too. It’s not worth arguing about, and cosmically speaking, it hardly matters anyway.

The service was quite nice; I did a reading from Corintians (“O death, where is thy sting”), saw a lot of cousins I haven’t seen in a long time. Grandma was the last of her family; her brother and sisters had already died. We were all holding up pretty well until Emily started crying, and it just ran right down the line from my sister to my brother to me to Mom to Dad. About the only Polish she knows is busia and dziadzia: grandma and grandpa. After Mom became grandma, Grandma became busia to the girls. I don’t know how much Maddie understood, but I suspect a lot more than we think.

I think it’s a good thing that Emily cried so hard over losing her busia: it means that as time goes on, she’ll have that wonderfully rare experience of knowing and remembering her great-grandparents. I was fortunate to have one great-grandparent until 1982 and fleeting memories of two others who died in the mid-60s; Emily will remember five of hers.

It was odd not having a body or ashes at the service. It felt a little incomplete. Grandma gave her body to the local medical college, and we’ll receive the ashes when they’re done. Mom and Dad are talking about the same: donating their bodies to the college. I support the idea in principle, but I have to admit that I feel a little queasy at the idea of total strangers using Grandma’s body for … well, for practice. I know perfectly well that I feel that way only because it’s a family member on the table, but the service did feel incomplete without something–a body or an urn–to say goodbye to. I dunno. I’ll sort it out eventually.


3 comments so far

  1. surakofb5 on

    I understand. My grandmother’s funeral, about 10 years ago, was closed casket. She had been saying for years she didn’t want people looking at her dead body at the funeral, so we found a nice picture from when she was about 60 and put it on top of the casket. But I still had trouble accepting she was really gone without seeing the body.

    It’s too bad they couldn’t borrow an empty casket for the service. Just for show.

    • The Rev Dr Sherwood Forrester on

      Actually, I think an empty casket would’ve been a little weirder… a nice portrait in front of the altar, though, would’ve done well.

  2. jayteeone on


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