Friday, April 24, 2009

GeeGee's Funeral

We traveled to Orangeburg, SC Tuesday night for my Grandmother's  (or GeeGee as the boys call her) funeral.  When I was little and my parents said we were going to Orangeburg I would envision an orange city.  I don't know how old I was when I realized this wasn't going to happen, but I was quite devastated.  For what I can remember, my Grandmother has always lived in Columbia, SC. But my mom was born and raised in Orangeburg. GeeGee didn't move away until she remarried.  

Anyway, in telling the boys we were going to Orangeburg, I could almost see Nathan's brain envisioning the same orange town I had envisioned as a child.  Should I go ahead and burst his bubble or let him dream up a really cool place? Well, the realist in me told him on the way that Orangeburg is like any other town and I don't know why it's named Orange-burg.  It used to have orange patrol cars, but they are even gone now.  Perhaps a better mother would have researched the history of the town's name, but I was running on empty by this point so I just went with the facts.  He was okay with it.  

We were blessed to get to the big O town just as my parents were heading back to my uncle's in Columbia for the day so we had dinner with them. My mom is hurting but knows that GeeGee is so much better off now.  It's always so much harder for those of us left behind.  We're so selfish that we want our loved ones here.  It's not a bad selfishness, it's just a simple fact of who we are as humans.  It never gets easier-you want to pick up the phone to check in on them or as my mom said today to ask about a recipe from long ago.  Jim wants to ask his dad about sports things and I want to talk to his mom about HSP and how she handled her son having it.  Those are things that make losing someone hard.  My mom pretty much collapsed in my arms when we got there and I just held her as she told story after story and showed pictures of GeeGee and of my grandfather who's been gone  almost 45 years.  Oddly enough, there's a bit of a resemblance there-my sisters like to tease me that I don't look like any ONE of our relatives, I'm a great melting pot of all of them.  

After dinner we stayed at a great, brand new (less than a month open) Best Western.  Sounds great, huh?  Enter Brady's allergies to new carpet (coughing all night even with allergy meds), Nathan grinds his teeth in his sleep and Jim snores and my anxiety over seeing family = no sleep for me. After breakfast the boys along with Candi's family decide to take a swim in the indoor pool.  Now, when I say indoor, most of you think heated, right? Well, one toe in said NO! My brother in law (whom I adore) said before the one toe entered, "Oh, the water feels great."  I'm guessing he was talking about the texture and not the temperature!!!  If you'll remember my boys jumped in the Atlantic in March, do you think a cold pool stopped them? Nope, but Candi, Tate and I were sidelined.  Then I voted for warm baths and getting ready.

My mom told me something today that was one of the sweetest things she's said.  My uncle asked why she was heading to the funeral so early Wednesday morning.  She said she wasn't going there, she was coming to the hotel to be with her grandchildren because she knew they would put her in a good mood and make her laugh.  Well, if that isn't an answer to our prayers I don't know what is.  We prayed for something of this level, that she would see what her grandchildren should mean to her and I think she did.  I need to focus on that more if she brings it up again.

At the funeral home, Nathan went in to see GeeGee in the casket.  He reached right in, held her hands and rubbed her face.  He even flattened her hair!!!!  Now, my Grandmother has always used about a can of Aqua Net a day so it was amazing to even see her hair move.  I guess they figured she wouldn't need that much in a casket.  So there I was having to primp her hair back up like they had it.  But the tender touch he had for her was priceless.  Then he grabbed Brady and showed her to him.  Then Brady grabbed Sarah.  It was quite a procession of great grandchildren for GeeGee.  At the end of the service we all walked by her to tell her goodbye.  Nathan held my mom's hand and was a great help to her.  Brady looked at her and said, "Goodbye GeeGee, I love you." And blew her a kiss.  We were the last ones in line.  

At the gravesite, a few words were said before someone sang Amazing Grace.  Nathan's been singing that for a long time now.  He knows it all, he doesn't stop at the first stanza.  When he hears it there's no stopping him. I whispered in his ear that it was okay if he wanted to sing.  So he did, all of it.  The entire front row turned around to listen to him.  I feel bad for the person actually singing it.  There were a few extra tears because a four year old was singing Amazing Grace.  I love that Nathan loves that song and holds it in his heart.  For a few months I had to sing it to him every night before bed.  But it's been about six months since I've done that and he was able to "belt" it out!  I'm proud of him for singing it for GeeGee.  

Mom said today that Grandma thought none of us, including her children, grandchildren and greats could ever do wrong.  I don't know if I believe that because I remember having some conversations with her when her mind was very strong about some things.  But whether we could do no wrong or whether she loved us are two different things.  I know she loved us with a fullness I don't think I ever understood.  I think that distance is a terrible thing for family members and people you love.  I think, no, I know I would have loved to have had the chance to have had a grandmother in the sense many people do.  I know she wanted more from us than we gave her and for that I am deeply sorry.  I don't know how much people get to hear when they're in heaven, but I pray she knows how sorry I am for that. For being in my own world and not doing more to be part of hers.  I pray that as much as I want this to be used for my mom I want it to be used for me and my relationships with others.  

We started a new series the day GeeGee died called One Month to Live. A few days before the series I challenged my volunteers to live the dash. You know, the time on your tombstone between your birthday and your going home date.  Ironic that I would be talking about it the very afternoon my Grandmother got called home.  Needless to say my lesson was not inspiring like planned, in fact it was quite a flop.  If nothing else, maybe it got the point across that we really need to live the dash.  That time matters, it's all we've got.  Our son, Harris doesn't even have a dash, just one date to mark his life.  So, are you living your dash?  Are you making your dash count?  Is there something you need to change in your life to make your dash a little deeper, stronger, more meaningful?  Does your dash bring glory to God?  I'm not being harsh on you, these are questions I'm asking myself as I try to fully live the dash.

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