Sparrow City Funeral

Christmastime isn’t “supposed to” be the time loved ones die. But it happens. So last weekend I found myself fighting the holiday travelers at SFO to get to Orange County for my grandma’s funeral. She is my dad‘s mum, and she was one seriously tough lady.

Since I generally don’t know what else to do with myself, I took a lot of photographs.

Me, Holden, surviving my grandmother

She is buried at the same cemetery as John Wayne. Which I thought was kind-of cool, even though I don’t know much about John Wayne. He seemed like her kind-of guy.

Actually, Grandma could have used a good cowboy during most of her life. Her first husband more or less disappeared when my dad and uncle were toddlers.

So, she raised them herself, often working six or seven days a week with the Visiting Nurses Association. She was an amazing nurse I hear…before she joined the VNA she was the head nurse of surgery at her hospital. So, maybe she didn’t need a cowboy. She’d probably end up taking care of him anyway.

Nancy

Nancy

Both my sisters, Nancy and Audrey, were able to come out from Dallas. I was pretty grateful for that. I just don’t get to spend enough time with them, and they are my best friends.

Nancy

Nancy

Sisters also make things a lot more normal feeling than it might be. They made me laugh, and we all held hands or linked arms during the funeral ceremony while we cried.

Audrey

Audrey

After my dad and uncle were (more or less) grown up, Grandma joined about a hundred and fifty three charitable organizations, often becoming a chair or a VP or something (one thing I wish I would have asked her before she died is how the hell she kept so freaking organized…I bet she could have taught Merlin Mann a thing or two).

But she was also part of the Red Hat Society, which is a funny group of ladies over the age of 50 who get together and wear funny red hats and do basically nothing but have fun and dress up and travel and have tea parties. Their motto is, “All my life, I’ve done for you. Now it’s my turn to do for me.” And that, I think, is awesome.

Lots of the Red Hats came to the service.

The Ladies in Red Hats

The Ladies in Red Hats

I think we are a strong, brave family.

Procession

Procession

After the official eulogy, my father spoke. He told one story about when he and my uncle were kids, there had been rains that turned their backyard into quicksand-like mud. Of course, they went to go play in it, and literally got stuck. Up to their thighs. My grandma had to figure out how to get them back into the house without getting stuck herself, so she fashioned “snow shoes” out of two big shovels and trudged out there to save them.

Dad didn’t mention what their punishment was, but I’m sure they got it good. Grandma was no pushover.

My father, Grandmas son, before guests

My father, Grandma's son, before guests

The night before the service, my sisters and I put together a collection of photographs from Grandma’s life. One of the best (tangible) gifts I have ever received from her is some of these photographs. We each took some home with us. She was beautiful and so elegant in the 1940s and 50s, especially.

Her life in photographs

Her life in photographs

This isn’t all I have to say. While at her home, my sisters and I discovered some major clues to a few of the family secrets. So I’ve been doing a little research, curious bird that I am. For now, though, I’m sitting with the photographs and letters and diaries. Just thinking of her and being proud to be her granddaughter.

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