Proven Wrong

Okay, so my grandmother’s funeral did not crescendo into an epic battle between the forces of good and evil. In fact, it was all quite beautiful. No talks of jewelry or portfolios, no eruptions from crusted over grudges, no swiping of family heirlooms. We laughed, we cried, it was better than Cats.

I witnessed a few stunning moments where I could not help but see glimpses of God in family members. Most notable was when my cousin C. arrived. They greeted him like a prince and showered him with kisses. Before he walked in the door, I didn’t know how the family would react to him in his orange jumpsuit with two armed police officers, his escort from the county jail to the funeral parlor. No one skipped a beat, regardless of what others outside the family might be thinking, he was warmly embraced and welcome–just like Granma would have done.

My father and his brother, Frankie, asked me to give the homily at the funeral. “You talk good,” they said. We agreed to make it an “open mic” homily, which is becoming more and more popular these days but has been a long Quaker tradition. Anyone who feels led can share something about the deceased.

The funeral service was a Roman Catholic mass, and I began by saying that after years of trying to bring me and several others back into the Catholic faith, Grandma somehow conspired to get us all to mass.

After my other remarks, which I won’t reproduce here, one by one folks came forward and talked about Grandma, Mom, Aunt Katie, or Nardina depending on how they knew her. Piece by piece her life began to form before us as each person shared her own bit. (Mostly the women folk in the family spoke.)

The priest wrapped it up by saying, “Don’t pray for Nardina; she doesn’t need your prayers.” (It is common for Catholics and some other Christians to pray for the dead in order help them successfully reach heaven.) “Instead,” he continued, “pray to Nardina because she is one of the newest saints in Heaven.” (Which I am sure the Vatican folks would protest, but they were not present).

I like that image of my grandmother–genuinely kind, loving, Christian in a way that is entirely inclusive–now always present within prayer-shot. She was everyone’s grandmother, everyone she met, and if you need her, I am sure she would be thrilled to be your grandmother too.

This post has 13 Comments

  1. Christine on January 3, 2006 at 8:41 pm

    Aiii. Beautiful. This made me cry. At work, even. Thanks for sharing this…and her…with us.

  2. Anonymous on January 3, 2006 at 9:51 pm

    Hey Peterson love the picture and i too got a little teary…imagine that… glad it all went well……be blessed dear friend Julesxoxoxoxo

  3. Diana_CT on January 3, 2006 at 10:30 pm

    My father passed away last spring and I debated whether I should go to Communion or not. I wanted to take Communion out of respect for my father but on the other hand my respect for the Catholic Church isn’t that great. In the end I did take Communion for my father’s sake, one last gesture for him, he was 95.
    At his grave I read a poem that I wrote;

    Missing You

    I miss you,
    The bouncing on your knee
    The smell of pipe smoke
    The buckets of catfish
    I miss you,
    The summer drives
    The cottage
    The picnics
    I miss you,
    The twinkle in your eye
    The wisps of your hair
    The toothless grin
    I miss you,

  4. Jennifer on January 3, 2006 at 10:49 pm

    It’s nice that tu familia didn’t argue about petty things such as material objects tu abuela. She even looks Italian in the photo! I think it’s fun when people look like the general population of the country that they are from. My paternal grandmother definitly looks German for instance.

  5. Bob Painter on January 3, 2006 at 10:52 pm

    Petey, although she is much more beautiful than you in drag, I can see the family resemblance…

    Loving you and yours during this time of loss and gains…

  6. Changeling on January 4, 2006 at 3:01 am

    P, Sorry I wasn’t there to hear your homily. You do “talk good.” I am so glad that your family came through for you and gave your grandmother the remembrance that she deserved. Looking forward to getting you back home for a bit. Love Jos

  7. encarna on January 4, 2006 at 4:30 am

    hey P. I would have loved to know your Grandma. Thanks for sharing her with us. Love, Teen’

  8. Steven Bakos on January 4, 2006 at 6:12 am

    Very touching, Peterson. Thank you for sharing that with us all! xox

  9. Rob7534 on January 4, 2006 at 7:24 am

    That was a touching post, and I’m sorry for your loss. But I’m glad your family put aside any of the pettiness, and gave your Grandmother the memorial she deserved.

  10. Contemplative Activist on January 4, 2006 at 11:01 am

    I am glad the funeral brought everyone together and that the mass was suitably heretical ;).

    She looks like such a lively and caring woman – I know she lives on in you and the other people she loved.


  11. Anvilcloud on January 4, 2006 at 3:19 pm

    Ah, that’s nice. Touching.

  12. Willie Hewes on January 5, 2006 at 7:54 am

    Beautiful. I’m glad it wasn’t the nightmare you imagined. She looks like a great grandma, may she live long in remembrance.

  13. Joe G. on January 5, 2006 at 5:09 pm

    My family did much better than I had feared all of those years when first mom, then dad died. I am thankful!

    Your grandma looks like a lovely, loving character. Sorry for you loss; happy for all of your fond memories!

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