My grandma’s memorial is this afternoon in Alexandria Virginia and my Aunt Julie has agreed to read a small message from me since I can’t be there. Here’s what I wrote.
The best part about someone else reading your statement is that you can write whatever you want and they have to read it.
Hello, my name is Julie and I LOVE to wear pink.
But, seriously, this is a message from Grandma Porter’s granddaughter, Kristin, who lives in Europe.
“For me, funerals are a celebration of life, rather than a lamentation of death, and to that end, I’d like to share three moments we shared that made me realize that Grandma is one of the fiercest, bravest women I have ever had the honour of knowing. And I’m so thankful that we’re related because now I can blame my obsession with sprinkles, my twisted sense of humor and my urge to buck the system on her.
Grandma always kept sprinkles in the house for me.
Sure, it might’ve also been for other kids or MAYBE for Grandpa, but I always thought of them as MY sprinkles.
And, of course, there was always plenty of ice cream.
One night, I was eating ice cream with sprinkles and enjoying it so much that after I finished everything that could be scooped with a spoon, I started finishing it up by licking the bowl.
Grandma was aghast.
I looked up.
“If you want more ice cream, you can have it. There’s plenty.”
I’m sure I mumbled something sassy in response.
And most likely, she replied with, “Look, if you don’t behave, I’ll sell you to the Gypsies.”
Grandma had a hilarious joke that she’d say whenever I was being sassy.
“If you don’t behave, I’ll sell you to the Gypsies.”
We’d smile at each other and I’d return to doing whatever it was I was doing in the first place, like cleaning an empty bowl of ice cream with sprinkles.
But at some point, I thought it would be equally hilarious if I acted as if I took her seriously and replied back, “Grandma, you can’t do that.”
It was going to be one of my earliest attempts at sarcasm and we’d laugh together and return to whatever we were doing before. It was going to be brilliant.
The next time Grandma made her joke, “If you don’t behave, I’ll sell you to the Gypsies.” I put on my serious face, walked over, and started to say my reply, “Grandma, you can’t do that.”
But halfway through I burst into tears. Instead of an adorable dialogue that would last through the ages, now Grandma thought I was serious – that I was afraid she would actually sell me to the gypsies.
And maybe I was!
“Aww, Kristin.” She gathered me into her lap. “I would never sell you to the Gypsies. You know I was joking, right? I love you. So very much.”
Of course I knew she would never sell me to the Gypsies.
I was more horrified that I was so upset. But thankful that there wasn’t anyone else there to see it. Of course, years later, she’d tell that story at my wedding. In front of seventy-six of my closest friends and family.
And then I told that story today. And posted it on my blog.
So now everyone knows.
But something that no one knows – between only her and I – is something that happened during one of the times that I stayed with Grandma and Grandpa by myself. My mother was on assignment for the air force for weeks or months at a time and when I couldn’t go with her, I’d stay with Grandma and Grandpa.
Usually this was in the summer, but one time it was during the school year and my teachers sent along house work for the entire three weeks that I would miss class so I could keep up.
Which stayed up in my room, IGNORED, for the entire visit.
The night before it was time for me to leave, I had a panic attack, realizing that I couldn’t possibly go to bed, or go home, because I had an absolute mountain of homework to complete.
My teachers were going to kill me.
My MOM was going to kill me.
When I woke up in the morning, Grandma was sitting in my room Doing My Homework.
I sat up, shocked.
She said, “You were so upset. I tried to mimic your handwriting.”
We looked at each other and a little grin split my sleepy face, “But I’m gonna have to sell you to the Gypsies.”
I was thinking over these moments and and more, like whenever Grandma would rub my back, she’d give particular attention to my shoulder blades and say she was checking my budding angel wings, and I realized that Grandma provided safety and stability, humour and reassurance, guile and sass.
She was one of the rocks I could count on when life was chaotic. And while, yes, I’m going to miss her so very much, the memories I have of her will continue to be rocks when life is chaotic.
I will think of her when my children are sassy and I threaten to sell them to the gypsies.
I will think of her when I eat ice cream with sprinkles. And totally lick the bowl.
I will think of her when I help my children with their homework.
But hopefully not by DOING their homework.
Unless absolutely necessary.
Thank you, Grandma.