A Southern Funeral After 100 Years of Life
A Southern Funeral
My husband’s grandmother lived 100 years. As my daughter said in her eulogy, she “saw 36,534 sunrises and 36,534 sunsets with her last being June 3, 2016.”
For such a long life, her passing was peaceful and her funeral short for 100 years of living. Weddings and funerals are planned for days or months in advance and yet, they are over in less than an hour.
In the span of those 36,534 days, there were countless eggs scrambled and cups of chocolate syrup stirred into milk. There are no telling how many towels were folded or sheets ironed. I’m willing to bet though, that there were very few socks lost in “Big Mother’s” laundry.
Beds were made each morning and turned back at night. Baths were taken and teeth brushed. Makeup was applied and nails were polished. Lipstick was likely washed off of 1,000’s of coffee cups and late night snack dishes were never left overnight. The floors were swept and carpets vacuumed – even if you rued the day you had that carpet installed.
She kissed and bandaged skint knees. She wiped tears from sweaty faces. And once or twice there was discipline to help a child not forget to take care of what God gave them. She lived through the Great Depression and valued her gifts as treasures that surely could be taken away at any moment.
There were lessons we learned and advice we failed to heed. There were hymns sung on Sunday and life lived on Wednesday to honor the lyrics that floated through those stained-glass windows. The Bible was read through at least once and every verse that spoke of family still resides in her spiritual heart. There were arguments and disagreements to which mercy, grace and forgiveness were applied. There was heartache that perhaps we didn’t understand and memories discussed that brought comfort and dimmed the pain.
Laughter was indeed always the best medicine and she loved telling stories about her 11 siblings and their adventures. She was the youngest so the stories were plentiful and untamed in the telling. There was no worry about political correctness or offending those within earshot, because truth was truth. Period.
Work was hard and standards were high, so is it any wonder that I married a man whose values are so grand?
Values Passed Down
As I talked with my soulmate about memories he had with his “Big Mother,” it occurred to me once again just how short life is. We only get one. Thank God above that the mistakes we made are washed with mercy. Our faith is tested and hearts are broken by words that weren’t meant to escape our lips. Life will never be perfect. Some choices honor others. Some are selfish. But, all in all, wouldn’t it be grand if we all were granted 36,534 days for the service of our family? Wouldn’t it be grand to consider others more important than ourselves even for 10 percent of that time?
As a woman, she was an incredible mother, grandmother, sister and friend. To my knowledge as her granddaughter-in-law, there were no estranged relationships. There was nothing so bad that it deserved a permanent cold shoulder. Even if said granddaughter-in-law accidentally forgot to mail her bridal tea invitation before her grandson said “I do;” she still treated me like a third granddaughter. I know without a doubt that this woman loved me inspite of my shortcomings.
Jesus was in the shortcomings business. In fact HE laid down HIS life for all of them. I wonder if Big Mother’s 36,534 days had been in a different time, if she would have been a model or an actress? She was a beautiful woman and was often told she looked like Elizabeth Taylor or Lena Horne. But then I think of her love for family and I know that even if she’d had the chance, she would have laid down that life. It just wouldn’t have served her family.