Friday, March 02, 2007


If you could see the unpacked bags that line the walls in our hallway or the gigantic pile of unsorted dirty laundry on the basement floor you would wonder why in the world I am sitting at the computer this morning. We are back from Nashville. It was harder than I expected in many ways. George has said that he thinks our culture is increasingly out of touch with rituals. For example, my mother didn't expect any of the three of her girls, much less all three of us, to come for the funeral. It had only been two weeks since I had asked George, when driving by a cemetery here in St. Louis, what he thought about visiting graves and told him how we used to go with Nannie to visit Christine, her daughter who had been killed in a car accident when only sixteen. I know many people think this is an odd ritual, visiting the dead. After all, they aren't really there. And I suppose it would be easy to not go to a funeral as well. The person being honored cannot be offended if you do not come and it is just inviting in a really bad day, sad feelings, a painful process all around. But it was good. It was good to have that bad day, several bad days really, to say goodbye to Nannie.

It was only the third funeral I have ever been to. All three have been for grandparents, George's and mine. My grandfather died when I was ten, George's grandmother when Amabel was three months old. I do not remember what I did about my Pappy dying. I know that the hardest time was when our pastor prayed for our family in church after we had come home from the funeral. My mother never cries, I mean never, and she wept all through church, right there in the pew. I don't know why we didn't just get up and leave. It was heartbreaking. But at ten, I think I mostly felt like an onlooker. I just leaned against her shoulder and cried for her. She lost her daddy, the second of her parents, and had cleaned out the house she had been raised in and said goodbye to all of it. I didn't get all of that, but any piece of it was enough. I didn't know until this week that my little sister had been sitting there too but had been ushered off to "junior church." She said she just sat there in the back of the chapel and cried all by herself. Bless her heart. Don't worry, this has a point beyond just being a sad sad story.

I guess the point, or one of them, is that it seems that our family does a lot on the individual level. I had really pushed to have a get together after the funeral to remember and honor Nannie. No one seemed to think that was necessary or normal. So there was a lot of people dealing with things all on their own in different ways. Kind of like with Pappy so many years ago. We also had four families used to their own homes and routines (okay, so my family is just used to our lack of routine) all coming under one roof and trying to function together and grieve at the same time, but right, in different ways. It went pretty badly a lot of the time. But what did we expect? On top of that, both my mom and Amabel got really sick. I am glad to be back in St. Louis.

I brought with me the hand painted plate I brought to Nannie from Mexico, a framed picture of Nannie and I together at my wedding, the bag of artwork and cards she had saved of mine over the years, the little dolls from all different countries that I played with at her house when I was little, her cast iron cornbread cake pan (not like a skillet but a big pan with lots of little wells for individual cornbread cakes- they were so good!), and a little vanity set with Kewpie dolls depicted on it that none of us has ever seen before but was set aside in a box with my name on it with an article about collectible Kewpie items tucked inside. At least I think it is a vanity set. I have been searching all over the internet to find something remotely like it and cannot. It is like Wedgwood, only a darker blue, and the figures are Kewpie dolls instead of people. It is so sweet of her to have either saved or purchased it for me. It is a little bit of a mystery too. I would love to find out more about it and what made her keep it for me. I do remember she had a Kewpie doll at her house when I was little that I liked a lot. The date of the newspaper article was 1981; maybe that is a clue. I would've been three in 1981. Anyway, it meant a lot that she had thought of me and kept something specifically for me.

I appreciate so much everyone's prayers for our family and for Nannie. I appreciate so much everyone's sympathy. It has been really exhausting. And Amabel is well now, but August has come down with a pretty bad cold and cough. And I am getting a little more than weary from the drama in my life over the past year. I guess that most people could say this at any given time. But I do not want to be a "life is hard" kind of person. On the other hand, what seems to get me in trouble, more often than not, is my overly high expectations. Or so I'm told. The pastor who delivered the funeral homily mentioned how Nannie had been through a lot, losing her father at a very young age and then losing a child and having been abandoned by her first husband and widowed by her second, and always maintained a sweet sweet spirit. He said how any one of those things often makes people bitter. And I know that that is very true. Nannie was not a "life is hard" kind of person though her life was very hard at times. God was gracious to her through so much hardship; I am sure he will be gracious to me through what is comparatively much less.

I also am already seeing His graciousness to Hugh, Nannie's husband for the past twenty years who is now alone. He has just recently needed to be under care as well and so he has had to leave their home. He only lived with her in the nursing home for about three weeks before all of this happened and his family decided to take him back to Arkansas where they live now that she is gone. He is really more our family though in a lot of ways and we will miss him being in Nashville. We had worried about him leaving, but, what a blessing, he has already run into several old and dear friends in the new home they have put him in- people he knew over twenty years ago. This could not have been expected and could not be any more of a blessing for this dear man who loved my Nannie so well. I hope his friends will bring him comfort and companionship now that he is without his "Best Love."

Writing this has been icky, like picking a scab or something. And I have been up and down caring for sick kids while drafting. Plus it is just hard to put all this into words. I know you all understand, but just please forgive my scattered-ness and weird tone. I wanted to give everyone a sort of update and final word because I know everyone has been concerned. But I am ready to go back to normal, so expect a more "me" post soon without recounting all these tragedies. I'm sure we could all use a little cheer around here.


Jessie said...

I think that this was beautiful, Abby, not scattered. I agree about rituals. And I think we need them. The tangible ways to express what we are feeling. It is good to embrace the hard things in life. Not dwell in them, but embrace them, let them (the Lord) shape us...I think it always make us more real. We will continue to pray for you guys as you heal. And let us know if we can help in any way at all.

the good, the bad & the ugly said...

Glad you are home safely. Praying for you as you grieve!

Courtney said...

What sweet memories. Thanks for sharing. Praying for you....

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