Thursday, January 21, 2016

Joyful Funerals

I took my grandmom to a funeral of a friend of her's today. Her friend was 3 years younger, 94, and up until the last 4 months, had a full and happy life. Her last 4 months were in serious pain, but let's not dwell on that..

This friend was a dear bridge playing partner for 10 years - they were partners every Saturday, emailed frequently (yes, emailed), and would play Scrabble online (yes, online) almost every single day, plus talk on the phone until their hearing aids started giving them feedback. Then it was primarily email for non-Saturday conversations.

Funerals amaze me. I found out how important this person was to a whole bunch of people - and it was real. It was sincere. Funerals of people I have known also amaze me, finding out different sides of them that I never know. We never really know a full person, right? We are all a little different to our people - maybe in our groups we are silly, or quiet, or funny. Maybe with our family we are directive, or rule-oriented, or serious, or the fun one. Maybe with our children we are friends, or firm, or distant. I love the different perspectives of a life.

Millie, who I never met, lived an extraordinary life. She was born in 1921 and double majored in biology and chemistry, but the family didn't have the money to have her go into medicine, so instead she joined the WAC (Women's Army Corps) and served at Walter Reed as a physical therapist. She raised two daughters, worked part time, served in a serious capacity with the Democrats, read to the blind, did crossword puzzles in ink, forged serious bonds with all four of her grandkids and knew them. Visited them, saw their games and plays and things, emailed with them, texted with them, and apparently wrote "Like" as a comment on  their Facebook posts because she didn't quite understand the like button. Her daughters and her four grandchildren all got up and spoke about her, and you could honestly feel the sincerity of how much love she gave, how sassy and curmudgeonly she could be, how smart and interested and alive she was.

I also got to spend the day with my grandmom, who is 97, and who was sad because she lost someone important to her. She told me all her friends are dead. We talked about how being 97 is a good thing, how she has gotten to know and love so many people, and yes, lose so many, too. It must be hard, though. To have lost so many people important to you.

I feel honored to have been part of today, to meet this woman through the people who loved her most, to hear how important a life can be, and to appreciate life, today, just a little bit more.