Monday, November 23, 2009

A Better Place

Grandma Lillian at age 19

My first thought when I heard the news one week ago today that Grandma Lillian had died was that she had gone to a better place. Isn't that what everyone always says? "They're in a better place."

I could picture Grandma, free of her aged, useless body, reuniting with Grandpa, with her brother and sisters and parents, and with her two babies she lost shortly after birth, both who would have easily survived with the medical advances we have today. I knew she was happy. She'd lived the best life and deserved this blessed reunion. I know I'll see her again.

So yes, I believe Grandma is in a better place.

But you know what? This life, this world--whatever you want to call it--is a better place because of Grandma Lillian. She made it a better place for me. I respected her and loved her. I wanted to do the things she did, which is why I spend much of August canning peaches and pears and tomatoes and why I made a quilt and entered it in the County Fair.

I found out at Grandma's funeral that I was not the only one of her grandchildren who made moral decisions based on the maxim, "What would Grandma Think?" I did not want to disappoint Grandma.

I suppose if there is anything at all I can do to honor my Grandma's memory it would be to try and make this world "a better place" for my family. And that is what I plan on doing for the rest of my life.

My brother John was a pall bearer and wore Grandpa's tan shearling coat.

This poem, by Henry Scott Holland, appeared on the back of Grandma's memorial service program.

Death is Nothing At All

I have only slipped into the next room.
I am I, and you re you,
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.
Call me by the old familiar name.
Speak of me in the easy way which you always used.
Put not difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes
That we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without an effort,
Without the ghost of a shadow upon it.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was.
There is absolute and unbroken continuity.
What is this death but a negligible accident?
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight;
I am but waiting for you, for an interval,
Somewhere very near, just around the corner.
All is well.


Allyson said...

What a beutiful tribute to a wonderful lady!

Erika said...

Aren't grandmas the best? I am going to write down that poem in my journal--it's perfect. I've already thought about writing down how I want my funeral. Is that weird? You never know when your time will come.

Chelsea said...

This was a beautiful post, Afton. Your grandma sounds like an amazing lady, and you are certainly walking in her footsteps!

Afton said...

Erika, both my grandparents picked out everything for their funerals and paid for it in advance. I think all my mom and aunt had to do was make a phone call and order flowers. I think my grandfather even wrote his own obituary. In a way, it's nice to think that this was their final gift: to not have to burden their families with all the plans and decisions that might have to be made at their death.

Gwen said...

Thank you thank you for scanning in that picture! It's my favorite of her.

Debbie said...

I too love this post! What a wonderful poem too. :) I think you are honoring your grandmother by doing things that remind you of her!