Monday, October 6, 2014


 My favorite picture of Granny and me. I am guessing 1966 and I do not recognize the house. 
Remembrance given this morning ...


This morning my Brother's family and my family went through the motions of preparing to mourn as a family. Youngest Son's alarm awoke the girls too early, Commuter Husband made cheesy eggs, boys starting to look more like men arranged their ties and the girls smoothed their black dresses. Granny would have been pleased to see this easy expression of family. For my Brother and I have worked diligently to create this bond so obvious in this generation of first cousins. And I am always, always comforted when my Brother is with me. I am especially thankful for him on this difficult morning.

I am also thankful to see my Great-Uncle & his Wife as well as my Great-Aunt who are Granny's siblings. My Great-Uncle & his Wife provided me a gift beyond words. Great-Uncle shared stories of Granny's youth on the farm in Rio Vista while we sat together through the night hoping Granny could sense our presence as she left this world.

To all our family and friends, we are comforted by your words, cards, gifts, actions and mostly by your presence today and your presence that touched Granny's life.

Many of you know I am a blogger. It is much cheaper than therapy. So last night, I sat down to write a blog post entitled "Granny."

Today's Blog Post

It was five minutes until Rosh Hashanah would start Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. at Temple. Oldest Son, Youngest Son and I sat in the usual front row with a wonderful friend who had saved us the seats. I saw a phone call come through from Oklahoma and knew I should answer it thus I quickly found my way up the Temple isle. The news was difficult and troubling and felt chaotic in this place at this time. Silent tears streamed down my cheeks in the foyer. Granny was in the ER. It was bad.

Over the next twelve hours, I talked with family and arranged child care for the boys. I explained to the boys that Granny was on life support and we may need to make tough decisions. After Thursday morning services which included Youngest Son sounding the Shofar, I hurried to drop Oldest Son and Youngest Son at school midday and drive to Oklahoma.

Youngest Son said to me "If you are going to take Granny off life support, can you do it today?"
Me "Why today?"
Youngest Son "Because it is Rosh Hashanhah. If not today then can you wait until Yom Kippur?"

Life support was removed on the first day of Rosh Hashanah and Granny passed away on the second day of Rosh Hashanah. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are the High Holy Days of Judaism and cover ten days. Our faith, our spirituality, our various chosen religions provides each of us a framework for life. In this moment of profound loss, losing Granny on a this most special of Jewish days was oddly comforting. And this child soon to be a young man, felt that so clearly.

During these ten days, I have been troubled and sad and angry and uncomfortable. I was not at peace. Then came this past Saturday, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. The afternoon "Service of the Heart" was "A Liturgy of Healing for Yom Kippur Afternoon."

The music washed over me. The soothing texts seeped into my being. This poem by Rashani was read and the words called to me:

There is a brokenness
out of which comes the unbroken,
a shatteredness
out of which blooms the unshatterable.
There is a sorrow
beyond all grief which leads to joy
and a fragility
out of whose depths emerges strength.
There is a hollow space
too vast for words
through which we pass with each loss,
out of whose darkness
we are sanctioned into being.
There is a cry deeper than all sound
whose serrated edges cut the heart
as we break open to the place inside
which is unbreakable and whole,
while learning to sing.
And then the afternoon service lead to Yizkor. The word Yizkor means to remember. I quickly read ahead through the sacred texts looking for something, anything that could heal my heart. I started writing notes. I thought about my Granny ...

The first sixteen years when she was just my grandmother. The Granny I snuggled up to in bed and who made the best spaghetti ever. The Granny who took me to the beach and to Six Flags and to Seven Seas and to Dogpatch USA. The Granny who bought a place at Horseshoe Bend and created kid summer heaven. The Granny whose house I loved to visit at 1537 Hamsted where she let me walk a million times to the 7-11 around the block for candy and Big Red. The Granny who took me to Red Lobster for Shirley Temples and Pancho's for warm tortillas and butter. The Granny who took us snow skiing even though she had never been - what made her even think to take us? The Granny who diligently had professional photos taken of her four grandchildren together as we grew from babies to teens.

My Granny could do anything! I honestly thought I could call her with a need or a request and she would make it happen. And she did. Granny took care of me and I loved her desperately.
She was:
  • Smart -  She was so very, very, very smart. She could just figure things out. 
  • Adventurous -When I think back to all the experiences she gave me with a limited budget and logistics, I am amazed. It is now clear to me that she was an experience junkie who loved to take her grand kids along her glorious path.
  • Not Mainstream - My Granny did things her way. Period.
  • Caring - Granny helped so many in her path. She loved helping those who had hit a bump in the road.
  • Independent - She was savvy and knew how to take care of herself and those around her.
Then life threw Granny and me curve ball. We had already survived losing my mother, her daughter  - together. But then in my high school years, Granny had no choice but to take on the role of my parent and I had to take on the cloak of her daughter. This unfortunate twist siphoned away that glorious relationship between the grandchild and grandparent. The remaining years were prickly and precious at the same time. The best years were when she helped us care for Youngest Son when he was an infant. But things did not stay stable.

My grandmother was a woman of extremes. She was a favorite for many and then alienated others.

I miss her voice. As troublesome as things could be, I always loved to hear her voice; that familiar tone and the contagious laugh. I want to hear her call me "Honey" again. I really do.

I am like my Granny in many ways; as is my child. And I am thankful to be smart, adventurous, not mainstream, caring and independent and feel empowered to do anything. Granny has a Legacy in me and my two cousins and my brother and the eleven great-grandchildren who each show her spirit.

So I sat in the Yom Kippur Yizkor service and was thankful for this Jewish holiday that placed the words and the music before me. Thankful to reflect on this complicated relationship. Hoping that Granny has found peace, at last.

My Yizkor Book of Remembrance gave me this poem by Chaim Stern reprinted from Mishkan T'Filah.

It is a fearful thing to love
what death can touch.

A fearful thing to love, 
hope, dream: to be --
to be, and oh! to lose.

A thing for fools this, and
a holy thing,
a holy thing to love.

your life has lived in me, 
your laugh once lifted me, 
your word was gift to me.

To remember this brings a painful joy.
'Tis a human thing, love,
a holy thing, 
to love
what death has touched.

Granny with me on my 4th birthday in April 1969 at our house in Burleson. The last birthday before Granny's daughter and my mother was killed in June 1969. Story goes that Granny bought me this bike against my parent's wishes - sounds about right.
Granny with me, Ronnie, Clint, Cory and a friend of mine. Granny always tried to include a girl for me among the younger boys. We are at the pool at Horseshoe Bend!

Granny at ski resort at Purgatory, CO. She stayed on deck all day for us to ski in and out, feeding us and listening to us.
Granny gave me a surprise Sweet 16 Birthday Party. I look pretty goofy happy.
Granny and Pa with me before Senior Prom. Granny took me to downtown Fort Worth to get this beautiful dress. She spent $160 which was allot for us in 1983. Note this was AFTER the custom dress I designed and had made was a disaster.
More Horseshoe Bend fun - Granny in the Brazos with my cousin Kelly howling with laughter. 
Horseshoe Bend Again - Clint, Cory, Ronnie, Kelly and I look sunburned and sassy.
Final Horseshoe Bend - I am sure we were riding around in the back of that Camino. Granny has her do-rag and I have my knee socks!
Granny took Clint, Cory, Ronnie and me so many places. Guessing this is one of those drive around animal parks.
My Mother and My Granny. If only ...

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