I had this whole funny tidbits type post planned out, and kind of a reflective one on how Halloween is really making me aware of how fast time flies --it seems amazing how just last year I was scuffing through the leaves in my new maternity jeans, watching Maggie trick or treat for the first time and it seems like yesterday. How Will seems deeply unimpressed with Halloween so far.
But then my grandma died yesterday. It's not all sad -- she was nearly 96 years old, would have turned 96 at the end of the month, and lived long enough to see her children and grandchildren grow up and get established in the world. And she's been really ready to go for the last few years -- she would be telling me some story about how she wasn't feeling good or something she forgot and say to me "Amy, I don't know why God is keeping me here."
She could be a difficult lady -- she held grudges, worshipped the boys at the expense of the girls, and hated having to depend on others as she aged. Still, she loved us, loved her sons and grandkids deeply.
She told great stories, too. Her family owned a bar -- a fact she was embarassed about. When I was a kid she told me it was a store. But she told us about being 14 years old and her mother sending her out to drive down to the river front and get booze from the Purple Gang.
She'll be missed, a lot. She taught me about faith and style and staying engaged and mentally and physically active (she watched, God help us, Fox News and CNN religiously until a few years ago when her eyes got too bad to see much anymore). She spoke Polish and taught me a few things, and I was honored by being the only grandchild to learn her fabulous pierogi recipe.
She died on All Soul's Day -- when Catholics honor the dead. And ironically I was thinking of her during Mass -- probably right about the time she was dying -- during a prayer about the dying finding comfort in God inviting them home.
It helped in telling Maggie as well. She went to what she's dubbed "kid church"-- the children's Liturgy of The Word -- and returned with a scribbled-in picture of an angel with the name "Bear" written on it. I asked her why and she told me it was because they'd talked about lost toys -- and the toys were in heaven (mind you, Bear was at that very moment in her bed, but he's been lost, once, for a few hours). So when I'd gotten the news and Paul and I sat her down to tell her, we had a framework to discuss it.
I'll be doing a prayer or a reading at the funeral; and the family is rolling in starting Wednesday. Polish wakes are second only to Irish wakes in the drinking and the storytelling, and my father and his brothers together are never not funny. I'm actually, in a sad way, looking forward to it. And I think Grandma would think that's OK -- she loved being in the midst of her boys, letting them razz her about some of their growing-up stories, and listening to her grandkids laugh.
I wish I had some profound way to wind this up, so I'll just end. I'm sure there will be tales to tell as the week unfolds.