02 Apr Love, Your Granddaughter Pt. 2
February 7th at 6:30 am, my mother’s phone goes off. It’s my dad. He stayed at the hospital that night, which is very unlike him. He told us that she passed. My mamaw left raising hell. We all knew she was scared and tired but she didn’t want to leave. She was probably thinking, “All my family is here except for me. I want to go back and hug them all.” She always loved seeing her family. It meant the world to her to have family close by. She held on because she knew we were coming to say goodbye. Everyone went into her room except for my dad. He went into her room around 6:05 am for about fifteen minutes. A few minutes after he left, she passed. She was waiting for his stubborn butt to see her. She knows he hates hospitals and he avoided going into that room…
Before my mom got off the phone with my dad, he said if we wanted to see her before the funeral home got there that we had thirty minutes. My mom asked if I wanted to go and I said yes. We quickly dressed and made our way there. I walked into her room and it was quiet. There was a stillness in the air and a sense of both peace and a heart full of sadness. My uncle did not leave her side for one moment and I know she knew that. I know she was happy to not have passed alone. A part of me was very sad but also relieved. At first I was like, “Who is relieved that their grandmother just died?” Truth is, I am. I’m glad she no longer has to suffer. I’m glad she no longer has to be on a thanksgiving of medication every day. I’m glad she no longer has to be hooked up to machines and have surgeries. I’m not happy that she can’t hug her kids and grand-kids anymore but I’m happy she is at peace now.
I know she was looking down on all of us visiting her, wanting to hug us and tell us she loved each and every one of us. I walked outside of her room and to the left of me I saw a stretcher with a burgundy cloth over it. At first it startled me because I thought someone was in it and then I quickly realized it was for her. I stood outside as they placed her on it and covered her up. I watched them wheel her out and down the hallway. My dad popped out of the waiting room and realized what was going on and turned around and walked back in. He didn’t want to see it. I don’t blame him. He doesn’t really handle this kind of thing well and really dislikes being around it all. Me, too.
We left the hospital and went back to my mamaw’s house. I went into her room and passed out for a couple of hours. When I woke up, I started to process everything. I got up and photographed her current bedroom. Then I went over to her old house and photographed some things here and there that she had in her house. After that, I made sure to photograph each room, or what I could of them. It had four bedrooms, a living room, kitchen, and bathroom. Two of the bedrooms were completely caved in to the point of the floor and parts of the ceiling were missing. There was no trying to photograph those at the time. I couldn’t do it by myself.
I carefully spent time to see what I wanted to photograph around. It was hard to breathe in there. The water damage was so bad that the air quality was absolutely horrific. If you know anything about my photography then you know I photograph often in old abandoned houses. This was one of the bad ones I’ve been in. I still had to do this. There is no telling how long it will stay there. There is no telling if something will happen to it or if someone will find it and destroy it. I know what disrespectful people and junkies do to these places. They spray paint them, destroy them more, and use the bathroom in them. Just knowing what I know overwhelms me and I never want that to happen to her house.
I had memories in each room of that house and walking into them brought back a lot. The first real time I can remember being there was at my papaw’s funeral in 1996. He passed away when I was almost 5 years old. The only thing I can remember from him being alive is snow. We would visit for Christmas every year and I always think of my papaw when I see it snow. When he passed, all I can remember is seeing my cousin outside the hospital with her dad, my papaw’s feet at the end of the hospital bed, blue carnations at his funeral, and a fence behind his grave. Those are the only memories I have and unfortunately I feel like they’re some of the most prominent one’s I have from that age. Maybe that’s why I started to like the color blue. Before that, I always wanted pink and purple but after his death I only wanted blue.
3:30 pm that day of her passing, I went to the funeral home with my mom, dad, my father’s bothers, my brother, sister-in-law, and great niece. We sat in a room talking about the arrangements of the funeral. At first, there wasn’t going to be one. One of my uncle’s said that she has been through so much that there was no need to leave her out for hours. Basically it was going to be from the hospital to the funeral home and then to the graveyard. The majority of people didn’t want that. We all wanted to celebrate her life and say goodbye. It was agreed to have my mamaw’s funeral on February 9th, 2019 at 10 am for family and 11 am-1 pm for the public with the funeral starting at 1 pm. While we were trying to have it the next day, it was better that we had it that Saturday instead. That gave us plenty of proper time to gather what we wanted and needed for the funeral.
Before we left, the men at the funeral home told us that they wouldn’t be able to get a blue casket in by Saturday. So they asked us if we’d like the silver one instead. He brought us to a room and showed us the silver casket. My uncle originally wanted a blue one to match my papaw’s but we all knew mamaw would rather have everyone there than to wait until Monday when everyone was gone all for a color of a casket. I felt bad for my uncle. I knew he felt like he was making choices but at the same time given no options on a lot of things. He agreed to the silver one and I’m glad he did because all of us being present was more important to her, I know it would have been. We tried to leave as much as possible up to him but also help along the way to lessen the workload and emotional stress.
As I was in her room, one of my uncles comes in and starts gathering clothes for her. They picked out a white and blue blouse and laid it on the bed. I looked at it and immediately teared up. They were going to dress her in what she wore to my wedding. I became overwhelmed again with emotions. I wasn’t expecting that at all but it filled my heart with so much love and happiness. I don’t know if they meant for her to wear that because of me or if that was her favorite clothes but it still meant so very much to me that she was going to be laid to rest in something I got to see her wear. Her necklace she wore was nowhere to be found. My uncle ended up going into her old house in search of it. I ran over as it was cold, raining and night time to help him look. After frantically searching for what seemed like an hour, we finally said enough was enough and we left.
Friday, February 8th, the entire day was spent getting things ready. I went to Walmart and made some quick prints for a photo album I made. I tried to gather as many photos as I could. The only photo I had of us together was from my wedding. Those are the only photos and I cherish them with all of my heart. I made a small 4×6 album full of photos and gathered flowers. I made 3 arrangements for the funeral. One fresh flowers, one roses for each of the brothers, and one artificial flowers that could be left outside at the grave and not die. They were beautiful. My grandma didn’t have a specific favorite flower. Any flower was her favorite flower. You could have given her a head of lettuce and she would have loved it, especially if it was from any of her family. I can just hear her laughing now if I gave her lettuce saying it was flowers for her…
After finding flowers, I realized that I haven’t heard of anything going on top of the casket. We called my uncle and they were actually just talking about it. We then met up with his girlfriend and she picked out some. They said they could make the flowers white and blue. After looking closer, they were carnations. Blue carnations, just like my papaw’s casket spray. I immediately said yes to it. The fact that she would have flowers just like his meant a lot to me personally. I took a lot of things to heart during this funeral. Every little thing meant something to me. Whether it meant anything to anyone else or not, it meant the world to me. The photos everyone shared with her kept me in constant tears. I think I have cried a couple of gallons of tears over the entire thing.
After that, she showed us some of the things they gathered for her to wear. She even found a necklace that was similar to what she wore at my wedding. As a side note, my wedding day wasn’t just my date. It is also my mamaw’s birthday and my mother’s birthday as well. It was truly a special day in more ways than one and I will forever have that special moment in my heart where I grabbed the microphone before she left and had everyone to sing her happy birthday. It’s a once in a lifetime moment I hold so dear. All the preparations started to wind down and we began to prepare to rest for the funeral the next day.
**** Images, names, and locations have been hidden for privacy of my family and to document but respect the events that have taken place.