I Will Wear Red
January 28th, 2011

Tomorrow morning I will gather with the rest of GAP’s family for his grandmother’s memorial service.  GME (her initials, in keeping with my naming conventions on this blog) passed away last Friday and it was sad, but also a blessing.  After 93 beautiful years here she has gone home – to a place where her frail body can no longer limit her and where she has joined her husband for the first time in seven years.

GME was one of the most honest, curious, and lovely people I have ever known.  She is a testament to what this blog is about, and was a role model for me as I transitioned from a late-blooming adolescent into a grown woman.  And so it is that today I dedicate this post to her, and just a few of the reasons she will be so dearly missed.

She raised five kind and generous children, one of whom is my mother-in-law, who in turn raised six kind and generous children, one of whom is my beloved husband.

She had a passion for music and raised a family of carolers.  In keeping with their tradition that was founded back in the ’50s and ’60s her kids take their own children caroling to nursing homes (a massive group of nearly 30 now) every Christmas.

She was a reader.  Any time we visited her she asked GAP what he’d been reading (inevitably something political and challenging) and would ask to borrow it.  In turn, she would make margin notes in anything she read and would pass it along to GAP when she finished so they could discuss it.

She loved rain.  As a farmer’s wife she loved looking out the window to see darkening skies because it meant that her hardworking husband  could not go out into the fields and would instead be at home with her.

She was stubborn and humble.  In her later years as many of her grandchildren were getting married she was unable to walk down the aisle as part of the formal processional without the aid of a wheelchair or walker.  So she made sure that she was seated before the ceremony started so as not to draw attention to herself.

After September 11th she was curious about Islamic extremism and how it evolved.  Rather than plunge into day over day of cable news she ordered a copy of the Koran and read it to gain a better understanding of the religion itself and what might have prompted those men to do what they did.

She had eyes that sparkled with life.  No matter how many years her skin betrayed, her eyes were young until the very end.

And, all she wanted out of life was for the people she loved to be happy.  She hated all manner of sadness and was not one to indulge in it under nearly any circumstances.  And so it is that tomorrow’s service comes with strict instructions.  It is to be short.  It is not to be sad.  Men are not to wear suits.  We are all to wear bright colors.  And there is to be pizza afterwards.

GME was not perfect.  But she came awfully close.  Between life and death she chose the better option, but she will still be acutely missed for a long time.  I am thankful that I will live the rest of my life as a member of the family she raised.  Her life and beliefs will be imprinted on my own for the rest of my life, and I am better for it.

I was reminded of this last night.  We arrived at my in-laws’ house late in the evening.  After sleeping in the car IEP was eager to play for a bit prior to being put down.  Our bedtime routine includes a handful of books each night, followed by IEP curling up in GAP’s or my lap, rocking in the glider, and being sung to for a few minutes.  Last night my mother-in-law (E, for those who are frequent readers of comments here) was up to bat for bedtime duties.  As I listened on the monitor I heard her sing “Bless this House” to my baby.  It was the song that her family ended all of their caroling stops with so many years ago.  And it is the song that the entire family will sing together at her memorial service tomorrow.  It was late, she was singing quietly, and her typically strong voice cracked in a few places.  But I could hear GME coming through loud and clear.  And I was thankful, once again, for this woman whose life is now intertwined with mine forever.

10 Responses to “I Will Wear Red”

  1. Shelby Says:

    Oh Gale, what a lovely posting — a great reflection on a great life. Bravo. My thoughts, sympathies and prayers are with you, GAP and his entire family.

  2. Holly Says:

    My sincere sympathies to you and your lovely husband. Hug him for me.

  3. TheKitchenWitch Says:

    She sounds like a wonderful woman. I’m sure you will wear your colors with pride. A woman who reads the Koran and loves pizza deserves a rainbow at her sendoff, that’s for sure. ((you))

  4. Bridget Says:

    Beautiful tribute for what sounds like a beautiful life. Enjoy the celebration, just as she would have wanted.

  5. Cathy @ All I Want To Say Says:

    Sounds like a wonderful blessed your life. Hugs to you and your family during this time.

  6. Jack Says:

    That was a beautiful tribute to her.

  7. ayala Says:

    A beautiful tribute for a special woman. I am sorry for your loss.

  8. Aidan Donnelley Rowley @ Ivy League Insecurities Says:

    Beautiful words for a woman who sounds like she was absolutely wonderful. I hope your weekend was a warm one full of color and memory, family and fondness. I am sorry for your loss, but inspired by your reaction to it.

  9. Kimc Says:

    Condolences to you and your family. Lovely post, but it left me wanting to know what conclusions she came to after reading the Koran.

  10. Ten Dollar Thoughts » Blog Archive » The Look of Love Says:

    [...] creature who’s been on my mind lately who “looks loved.”  We spent the weekend celebrating the life of GAP’s grandmother.  She, too, looked loved.  Her body was frail and her skin was wrinkled.  And yet she was still [...]