Tuesday, June 5, 2007

In Memorial

I just got back from a week in Auburn, Alabama, the town I grew up in. It was one of the most challenging weeks of my life. We were home for two funerals.

On Sunday, my grandfather passed away. Buster was a big man most of my life. He had coal black skin and long hair. He wore cowboy boots and a big cowboy hat. On summer afternoons he would load me, my siblings and cousins in the back of his customized pick up truck and take us to Krystal for hamburgers in the parking lot. He pinched our cheeks, laughed giant belly laughs and loved Jerry Springer. But on Sunday, he passed away as a result of complications from cancer.

My grandmother and aunt, together with his family, began making funeral arrangements, and then unexpectedly my grandmother had a massive heart attack and died early on Tuesday morning. She was standing at the stove in her home making an early morning breakfast and then she was gone. We were all so stunned.

My mom and I packed up the kids and got on the road early on Tuesday. Tuesday and Wednesday were full of people who were calling or stopping by to offer condolences – but many of them were stopping in to check on my grandmother. When they heard the news about her they were stunned and our family bore the full brunt of their shocked reactions. Seventy-year-old men crumbled into heaps of tears on her sofa. Large bodies and slight frail ones rocked with sobs in her chairs. Some could hardly speak and some had many words. Some just repeated – no, no, no.
Grandma's House


I think it will still take me a while to recover. I know that in many ways I haven’t yet begun to grieve their passing. I am still adjusting to the shock of their absence in the house that was so much a part of my youth. And I’m still working through my own feelings about those friends and family members that reacted so powerfully to the news.

In the end, I know that it won’t be this past week that I remember – although it’s made a powerful impression on me. It will be the way that Buster looked in that white suit and string tie, my grandmother’s infectious giggle and the way she referred to herself in the third person ("Grand-mama loves you"), and the steadfastness with which they loved each other and each of us.

3 comments:

Nathan Jolly said...

So, let me get this straight - your grandmother and grandfather who passed away, were from the same side of the family, they were married? (As opposed to a maternal grandfather and a paternal grandmother or vice-versa.) If so, a couple couldn't ask for better timing - to look at it from an outsider's point of view. My own grandmother lived 10-15 years after both of her husbands had passed on. Near the end she was seeing somebody, but she was taken from us before she married a third time. Being married myself only 11 months and some change now, I would hope that neither me nor my wife outlive the other by very much. Together forever, as it should be.

Oh yeah - I used the "Next Blog" feature above to find this - you probably don't know me or anything. And I'm wondering, is "WG" initials? I've often wondered how I'd refer to our future kids in a public forum such as a blog, and that's a pretty good idea.

Well, take care.

Corey Williams said...

Yes. They were married. In some strange way, your comment really helps me. I guess she was really going to be with him.

And yes, WG are initials and I refer to the baby as "Baby B." I use my name on my blog because of the magazine, but I like to preserve the illusion of privacy for the kiddos.

makai'smom said...

Hi, I first want to offer my condolences. And let you know that it is common for spouses to pass shortly after one another. It is like an intertwining of hearts that are inseperable. They usually greive for each other and move on to be with each other. It has happened in my own family numerous times. I have learned to greive differently knowing they are together eternally. Death is something that reminds you of your own mortality and that we must make sure our time with loved ones are special so that we live on with the Krystal hamburger memories. (smile) Your grandparents are now a true testimony that though we are mortal, our love is eternal. I hope it helps. Take care