Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Family Ties

I have to admit I was a little hesitant while anticipating my family gathering this past weekend for my Grandmother's burial and memorial service. My hesitation was uncalled for as it turned out to be a pretty great weekend despite the circumstances warranting our meeting. When my parents relocated to the South I was only 10 years old and we have only gathered together, in the same state, once since then...when my great grandmother turned 100 (I was 17) in 1997. On Saturday, I saw some cousins that I hadn't seen in almost 12 years! It's funny when you haven't seen someone in such a long time yet you can pick up right where you left off. I wish my family was closer, especially seeing how close-knit A.R.'s family is. I remember gathering every Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter when I was a little girl with everyone and being so excited to see everyone...especially my two older (high school age at the time) cousins.

The burial service was for family members only and was a very intimate and reflective moment for me. I shed a few tears, but I still haven't had the "good cry" I thought I would. My grandmother was laid to rest alongside her husband and infant son who passed away in 1960 and next to my great grandmother's grave (which I don't remember existing!). After the service we went back to my uncle's house for pizza and while the boys talked smack and played around with my younger cousin's go-karts a few of us went through two huge boxes of photos my grandmother had left behind. It was such a treat to go through the photos and see her memories and rehash who was in the photos and what we were doing. I discovered that I rocked a nice mullet in the 80s (thanks Mom!), my grandmother rode horses in her teens, my dad was a band geek, and it's a good thing the hair perm era has ended!

We found photos dating back as far as the 1930s (I didn't even know they had cameras back then!) including my grandmothers prom photo, senior portrait, a shot of her at probably about 10 years old with her 1/2 sister and parents, photos of my grandfather (who is a spitting image of my dad) who I never got to meet, and her wedding photos. Each of us took a little bundle of photo treasures home to scan and burn to DVD so that we will always have them even as the photos age. I'm actually surprised at what good quality the photos are, too. After going through all the photos we made collages for the Memorial Service and called it a night.

We stayed at the Renaissance in Brockton, MA and it was really nice! I even had fresh waffles for breakfast on-the-house in the morning. Sunday morning we went to the memorial service which was part of the normal church service and I was doing well holding back the tears until the organist played Amazing Grace. I think I cry every time that song is played let alone if it's at a funeral! I only teared up again when the final hymn was one of my grandmother's favorites:
In the Garden I remember her humming it clear as day.

After the service the church held a reception for us and I got to see some old church members that hadn't seen me since I was 10 years old. One thing I noticed was that not one of them had to ask what was going on in my life. My grandmother had already informed them...she talked about all 6 of her grandkids regularly and was so proud of us (insert thoughtful smile here). Once the reception ended we went back to my uncle's house for awhile longer before making the drive back to CT. I think we are all at peace now and I know that my grandmother is in a much better place with her husband, son, mother, and 1/2 sister playing the handbells, singing, and teaching the children of Heaven like she did here on Earth.

I love you Gram, may you rest in peace!



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