June 7, 2011 by Marj Hatzell
Wanna know what the problem with funerals is? They are sad. And dreary. And boring. And people get all kinds of dressed up in uncomfortable clothing and cry and shiz. Ugh. Hate them. As my husband says, funerals are for the living. And the living need to liven it up and live a little. When I go, I want it to be a celebration. I want an effing party. I want folks to dress up and have a good time. Or not dress up and have a good time. Or have a pool party. NO! A TOGA PARTY! Complete with kegs of beer and funnels a la Animal House. That would be a blast, no? Wanna come? I’ll let you know when it is.
The Guy I Live With’s Grandmother died yesterday. It was not exactly unexpected. I mean, she had been in failing health for a few years but the last nine months were getting kinda bad and the past two months especially difficult. And his Grandmom, she was a spitfire. She was full of life when she was alive. She sang Opera, loved to perform in theaters, was a seamstress, read everything she could get her hands on, watched birds, loved gardening, spent every summer in the woods at her cabin, basically she loved everything I love to do. But Grandmom was the kind of person that always wanted to be different. Unique, even. In fact, when I met her the first time the Hubs brought me home, they nearly tried to poison me and make me eat things like ZUCCHINI and MASHED TATERS WITH CARROTS IN THEM. And I died then came back to life then I ate my dinner and it was good. And then she taught me to eat stuff like other vegetables and stop being a vegetarian and eat meat and fish and stuff. She also forced me to learn about Opera (Hubs and I lived with her for a short time, he lived there quite a few years growing up and in college) once when we were stuck inside during a snowstorm. For five days. Snow and Ice and Grandmom and me and Opera. For FIVE DAYS. And somehow the Hubs escaped to our third floor lair and played video games while I listened to Tosca and La Boheme and Carmen. And got the pants beat off me in Trivial Pursuit.
She traveled the world to visit the exchange students that stayed with her over the years. When her husband died when he was far too young she sucked it up and moved on and lived. She loved her cats and dog, sang in the church choir, recruited me for the bell choir one year and played the piano. She whistled in perfect pitch (even if it drove me batty because I have this issue with sound, see). She had a beautiful voice. She sang on the radio at one point in her life and even recorded a few songs.
Thursday is her funeral. My husband, who isn’t the most visibly emotional guy, has pretty much just slept for a few days. He is sad, he remembers the times that Grandmom was fun and used to wake him up when he was a kid and take him down the dirt road from the family cabin and make him watch meteors and comets and other astronomical phenomenons in the middle of the night in the pitch black woods. He remembers the time she tried to steam chicken nuggets because she didn’t have a whole bunch of experience with them, see.
I hate wearing black to a funeral. I know it is supposed to signify mourning and respect and whatnot but to me, black is a cop-out. When my grandmom died two years ago, just shy of her ninety-fourth birthday, I wore rose, because rose was her favorite color. When my Nana died twelve years ago I wore a flowered dress because flowers made her happy to see. So for Grandmom’s funeral I am wearing this crazy flowery sparkly sundress because I think she’d like it. I don’t think I ever saw her wear a plain color. She was more of the crazy print type.
And she planned her own funeral and obituary and everything. She planned it thirteen years ago and was proud of paying 1998 prices for a 2010 or later funeral.
So Thursday I am wearing that crazy dress. To remind me that Grandmom liked things a little more unique. And we’re going to see family and laugh and enjoy each other’s company. Because life’s too short and it’s meant to be lived.