Recently our family lost someone very dear to us. Elizabeth’s grandmother and Little Heck’s great-grandmother. It was surreal and tragic, and ultimately, something that will happen to all of us. This may seem trite, but I’m not about to crack open my rib cage and shoot my heart upon this post. I could never do justice towards the loss of the wonderful woman also known as Nano*.
It was a tasteful service, I think. I haven’t been to a lot of funerals. The turn out was modest as Nano was nearly a century old. She lived to be 971 and at that point, you’ve outlived most of your friends. She was surrounded by family which is all any of us could ever ask for.
I was given the duty of corralling the brazen nutter known as my son because Elizabeth was eulogizing the awesome Nano . At 172 months our little dervish is mobile, vocal and in a constant state of consuming information in any way he can. The pastor who ran the service was a real pro as the first words he said to me were, “I don’t mind if he is loud. I can work through it. It doesn’t bother me at all.” Ever kissed a priest? I almost did.3
The tranquil solemnity of the opening remarks about Nano were mildly interrupted by our little hero. He did some running around and took a bit of distraction to keep contained, but overall, he was fine. After all, he is what scientists call ‘a toddler’.
At the end of the pastor’s heartfelt dedication to Nano, the room fell quiet as all those gathered took time to reflect upon personal memories. That was until our tiny everyman screamed “Yeahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”, and clapped like he was a paint shaker.4
It was the first time I heard a group of people laugh at a funeral. But, like I said, I haven’t been to many.
I’ll end this with a epilogue:
To have the very beginning of life present at the end of it, is to celebrate how this crazy life machine works. Tiny Zeus spent the rest of the day running through people’s legs and smashing his head into things. Strangers smiled and talked to him. Family picked him up for hugs. He eased the burden of passage by representing what the circle embodies: continuance, love, success, and the future.
Nano loved him. And as Elizabeth played a recording of her reading a children’s book to our son, I know Nano would have laughed at the small zenith as he barreled headlong into the rest of his life. He gregariously applauded Elizabeth’s eulogy too.5
*In memory of Nano, I’ve chosen our most recent Christmas picture to represent this post as we have spent the past several years celebrating it at her home in Medicine Hat. She was a big fan of family. And shots. Christmas morning shots.
It’s been a long time since I’ve had the opportunity to provide editor’s notes to The Undad’s world. He’s been too insightful and “bang on” for me to feel any gain from adding additional reflections.
What struck me about this particular post, is how very different we recall the events of my beautiful grandmother’s funeral. I think this speaks to the mourning process, and how disjointed the world can become when we’re surround by a spiraling egregious of emotions and reality.
1 She turned 96 in October 2015. Although she lived life furiously, and I’m sure had enough experiences to fill at least 97 years, but likely 197.
2 16 months, but every day feels like a week because of the amount of cleaning, destruction, learning, encouraging, wrestling, motivating, and loving we do daily.
3 Not a priest. The officiant was an employee of the funeral chapel, but in a previous life he was an United Church Minister. The United Church’s clergy are traditionally referred to as ministers. The United Church does not use the title priest, but occasionally use reverend. I suspect though, if you’re standing on the other side of the other side of the God fence, listening to a gentleman with a fancy scarf read from a storybook, it’s all just semantics.
4 This is a really interesting example of how the memory plays tricks on us. I remember our son cheering as the officiant made his way to the front of the funeral chapel, before he had even spoken. I remember him saying “Wow, I’ve never had a welcome quite like that.” I remember feeling quite appreciative for the joy that filled my heart, before any of the sadness found space to resonate.
5 And my broken heart was made whole. Our little sun radiates all of our love. I was so lucky to have Nano at my side the day I married Trent. I was so lucky to be able to celebrate my pregnancy with Nano. To have Nano hold my son, on more than one occasion. To be at her side, with my son, on her 95th birthday. I am lucky to have a photo of her at MedAlta Potteries in the early 1940s adoring my Cultural Services’ office wall, inspiring me daily – making me smile daily.