The Death Ritual

Did you really expect me to start this off any other way?

Six years ago, today, we performed the death ritual for my grandmother.

Today is also my granddad’s birthday. Yeah, I know, that’s like mad disrespectful, I’m sure it wasn’t a rude birthday present, probably just how the cards fell.

The American traditional sequence of events occurred. The gathering of relatives, the wake, the service, the singing, the crying. All of it was present because we lost our matriarch. We lost the binding force that could call upon the outer reaches of the family into one place.

I wrote this a week after the funeral:

I still wait to hear your voice when I call the house, but when I hear granddaddy light up when he hears its me calling, its all better. I miss hearing your voice. I actually miss you being in shock that I paid attention to your words and your actions. I miss our debates over the top answers on Family Feud. I miss arguing with you for 10 years about getting me into a poofy dress and then seeing your face light up when you saw the pictures from the Cotillion, of me in a poofy white dress. I miss seeing you laugh at me when I copied little things you did like putting your pinky up when you drank from a glass or bottle. I miss you sending me to go bother granddaddy when my imagination drove you crazy. I miss sitting on your room and laughing with you. I miss seeing you laugh when you would say “Can I ask you a stupid question?” and I would reply with “Only if you want a stupid answer” I miss you telling me that I didn’t have the sense God gave a gnat. I miss you calling us peasants and then I would remind you that if we are peasants, that makes you the chief peasant. I remember the time you said Granddaddy looked like a homeless man when he tried to grow out his beard. I miss you not letting anybody sit in your chair except me, yes that point in time existed. I miss you volunteering me for everything under the sun. I miss sneaking into the kitchen at church and getting cookies with you. I miss setting Bishop’s table with you and how everything had to be perfect. The silverware must nearly blind you, if it didn’t then it wasn’t shiny enough. The glasses must make flawless diamonds look cloudy. The napkins had to be folded the same. The plates had to be centered. The centerpieces must be in the CENTER of the table. Each place setting was equidistant from each other. Making sure the table cloth was even on both sides. That, ma’am, was a lot of work for a 6 year old. I still want to call you and check on you and see how your day is going. I still have to stop myself from wondering why there are no cars parked at the daycare.

Here is the interesting thing about all of this, my concept of time is strange. I wouldn’t have remembered today was the anniversary of her funeral if I didn’t go on Facebook yesterday and saw one of my cousin’s longwinded posts in my memories. She is muted and I don’t go on there often enough to see anybody else’s sentimental posts. I barely remember people’s birthdays when they’re alive. There are a handful that I remember, and dos too that handful is in my calendar because I get the dates mixed up all the time. Don’t ask me what day my Grandma Wynona’s birthday is, it’s one of those single digit days in March. I thought my Granddad’s birthday was the 7th until my grandma’s funeral. I only remember Ronesia’s July 26th because she would run around the house screaming it and reminding everyone from the begging of June until her birthday. I remember AnnSherrie’s for the same reason, once she knew it was my birthday she assumed it was her birthday too all the way until the 19th. There was also a point in time where she was convinced that she had two moms and a dad, her second mother being my mom. It just made sense to her little kid brain, who are we to fault her?

I didn’t have an outline planned for this post. It turned into a brain dumb.

For the record, I’m still upset that my grandma looked like a puffer fish in bright fuchsia lipstick in that casket. I didn’t remember until I just saw a picture. I blocked that visual from my memory. I’d rather remember the more realistic photos we have.

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