Homecoming — Part 1

My maternal grandmother passed away early morning on June 6th, ending several months of pain and suffering upon her wary body.  This was one of the 6 days in my life that I had been dreading (the other days being the death of my parents, brother, husband, and such …) because I knew my Mom would take her mother’s death hard and, therefore, I too would have a hard time worrying for her and feeling bad because I would not be able to do much to ease my Mother’s sorrow.   The family had been bracing for this day for months and my Mom was beyond her limit and signs of stress were manifesting physically on her body.

 

The funeral was scheduled for Thursday.  My Mom flew out to South Carolina on Tuesday to help her last remaining brother make final arrangements.  My father and I followed on Wednesday afternoon and evening, respectively.  My arrival to the Greenville airport was rather unceremonious.  I sat outside on a concrete planter rim dressed in a hoodie, cropped cargo pants, and socked feet in sandals, with my ever-present backpack affixed texting my husband about state of the airport and the absence of my mother, who, as usual, had turned off her cell phone as soon as she had confirmed that I was on the ground.  After a 40-minute wait, my Mom and her sister-in-law showed and with a hug I entered the car and we were on our way.  I, of course, wanted to freshen up from the plane ride at the hotel, but my Mom was agitated and vetoed my request instead insisting that we go see the body.

 

My grandmother was beautiful – minimal make-up was applied to her amazing ageless skin (my grandmother had amazing skin that, even at the age of 86, really never developed wrinkles and she only got gray hair very late in life).  She was dressed in a pink flowey dress adorned with little white pearls along the neckline that then ran down her chest.  She looked as though she was just sleeping.  I should kiss her I thought and then chuckled – as though that would bring her back … I turned my attentions to my Mom who was concerning herself with who sent what flowers.  I hugged her and we looked at my grandmother together and cried. 

 

Within that same funeral home, far more tragic corpses were present.  There were 3 caskets containing the bodies of most of a family who had died in an auto accident.  We went to pay our respects first to the father and then, to my horror, the children.  At that point I lost it and bolted out of the mortuary, crying, and shouting up to the sky “Those are children!  Old people can die!  But not children!”   I hadn’t been that disturbed in a while nor had I ever felt so much emotion for people I had never met.  All I could think about is how a mother had been deprived of her entire family and all she had left of them are her memories and photos.  What happened in the next few minutes, I don’t remember, but when I came to I was back in the car and we were heading to my Mom’s home in the small town of Jonesville South Carolina.

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