At Grandma's Funeral
They call it denial,
but you can’t tell me
Some people are too big to die,
and she’s one.
The largess of her animating spirit
has now joined with
the Great Spirit
in her own sinful
and hilarious ways
that taught us God’s wisdom
in everyday things
as she played endless
children’s games (often cheating!),
slipped extra butter and sugar
into whatever she cooked,
taught us to polka and jitterbug,
applied arnica, Vicks VapoRub,
calamine, mercurochrome, and castor oil
to whatever ailed us,
bought us 18 karat gold jewelry
she sacrificed for,
taught us to ride bikes,
hopscotched, roller-skated, and
sledded down the hill
with all the rest of us kids,
though well past the age
when she should have.
No, she simply cannot die.
At baptism she died into life
and lived the resurrection
to its fullest,
teaching Sunday school,
singing louder than everyone else in church
where she always had gum
in her big Grandma purse
from whence came offerings for all grandchildren--
money passed down the pew in a race
to make it to the recipient
before the plate got there.
Even when I was thirty and and ordained
she tried to give me money for an offering
whenever I visited.
It was her nature.
So she couldn’t help herself.
She was always giving.
She gave most everything away--
her birthday, Christmas, anniversary presents--
admired with grace, then passed on
to someone who could use them more,
much to the givers' annoyance sometimes.
Her porch was magic space,
gathering people from across the nation
who’d come to bask in her hospitality
and argue religion and politics
with sex talks reserved
for the women in the kitchen--
all the things one didn't discuss
in polite company.
Whoever was there at 5:00, ate--
fried steak, baked beans, and cottage cheese--
every Saturday night.
She served life at her Kingdom table
And, in service to others in the community,
demanded justice and fairness
and an accurate account
from public officials she bugged and bothered.
"Right is right, and wrong is wrong,"
and "life is what you make it,"
she’d say, shaking her finger at ya,
and with clear blue eyes under snow white hair,
she’d look at you and you knew
she meant business,
and her business was Life in all its abundance.
She was always about her Father’s business.
She was nothing special to look at--
she wore old combat boots
and her husband’s insulated flannel shirts
over whatever came out of the drawer that morning,
usually polyester pastels that generally matched ok.
Truth is, she’d have been a good contestant
for What Not to Wear
except she’d have bought undershirts
for the homeless with her five thousand dollars
and fished her old stretched, stained clothes
out of the garbage can, subduing even Stacy.
She’d have endured the free haircut
and would die before she’d wear lipstick,
frustrating all artists of illusion.
But there she’d stand at the end,
decked out as the most glorious angel
she was . . . and now is.
So that body there dressed in a somber suit
of sophisticated colors with fine textures,
that face not smiling with radiant joy
but masked in make-up
with eyes closed, not looking,
that hair not flying in the wind as she worked,
those hands resting still--
that’s not her lying there.
But she’s not dead
because her life cannot die.
It can only return
from Whence it came,
bossily demanding, “Follow me.”
© 2007, Tess Lockhart. All rights reserved.