A friend of mine asked me to help put some flower arrangements together over the weekend for a funeral that was taking place today. I was happy to help. Others were setting tables up and getting things ready for a luncheon that would be served to the grieving family after the funeral was over.
It got me thinking back to the very first death I had experienced of a family member. My grandmother, Maud Issaccson Pace. A woman who braided my hair and made me practice my times tables and eat purple cabbage. She was a lovely woman. Always dressed in nice clothing. Always wore a hat when she went outside to protect her face from the sun. She used Oil of Olay on her skin and always had her nails perfectly clipped. She wasn't always crippled. At one time she walked without the use of crutches. But I don't remember then. I only remember her using a wheel chair and crutches. They were awesome crutches. Sometimes she would let my brother and me play with them. We would pretend to be crippled, too, and fly high across the room in great big strides on those amazing crutches! When we got too wild, she would ask for them back.
Grandma had a tricycle. A tricycle for big people. And every day she would ride laps around the block of their neighborhood. Wide brimmed hat on her head, she could go for lap after lap. It helped her have the strength she needed. She was good at it.
Grandma always put wheat germ on my cereal. I didn't like the texture of it, but she said it was healthier for me. When I was in college, she wrote me lovely long letters in her pretty handwriting. She told me to always make my family healthy meals. She told me to feed them carrots. And I wasn't even married yet.
Carrots. I remember she always had cold steamed carrots in the refrigerator. I loved them! I called them my "energy pills!" Probably because she told me they were so healthy.
I miss my grandmother. And I remember when she died. I went to help dress her at the funeral home. (Mormons dress their dead in special sacred clothing.) I had never been that close to a dead body before. Much less ever handled one. I was very scared to go. But had felt very strongly that I should. At first, it was scary. But then I felt her presence there. She wasn't in her body anymore. But she did still live! I felt her there in the room. Carefully dressing her body and making sure that everything was just so filled me with a wonderful feeling. I was doing one small act of service for a woman who had done so very much for me! She had had Alzheimer's for years before she passed away. She hadn't recognized anyone or been able to communicate. But that day, in the funeral home, she was Grandma again. She knew who I was and she was grateful for my last act of service to her. I felt her gratitude. I felt her wholeness. I felt her love.
There is life after death. Funerals are a sad time. But they are also a time when we realize more fully the spiritual nature of our beings. I am grateful for life. And I am grateful that it continues on in an unseen way after death.
I miss you Grandma! Thanks for being such a beautiful part of my life!