I agreed readily because its easy to say yes to a woman whose eyes sparked often with humor, whose cheeks were full of color, whose hair wasn't even completely greyed, whose steps were quick and light and who had a regular early morning walking regime.
I couldn't picture a funeral in my Grandma's future back then so agreeing to sing was a simple matter.
She's such a part of all of us, in what kind of world would she not be present?
In the kind of world where time and sickness and decline had their way.
It's been nearly 18 years since Grandma requested a song of me and a few days ago the time came for me to sing it. The agreeing was so much easier than the doing.
Surprising sadness took hold of me that morning. We were, all of us, grieving more deeply than we expected I think, after Grandma's long illness. There was so much in the day for our hearts to take in.
The church was the same welcoming white church in the woods that it has been for all of my childhood Sundays when we attended while visiting my Grandma...
Then, in the choir loft, where my Grandma had sung many songs in her own time, her chair left empty, her robe hanging over it with a black tin bow in her honor....
Family and friends who had come from near and far to support us and to honor this dear lady of ours...
And too there was the added import of all of our family coming together as we hardly ever do anymore.
That day, our gathering had purpose.
We gathered in a back room before the service began, my cousins and our spouses and our children, then joined by our parents, all of us having said our final earthly farewells. Our missing of her at that moment was sharp. We filed back into the sanctuary and the pastor began...and very soon it was time to do what I'd been asked.
It was a simple hymn, one of my very favorites, one that held significance to our family.
It was not simple enough however, for as the introduction ended an I was to begin, I was suddenly thinking about my Grandma and green beans and ...I came in on a very very wrong note.
Not how I wanted things to go at allllllllll! I stopped and asked the pianist if we could begin again. She began with the introduction, but I began with the verse. Mercifully, she rescued me and said "Let me play the introduction then begin."
I followed her lead and off we went, song accomplished and duty done and comic relief provided to my grinning family.
Never in my life have I wanted to do so well and never in my life have I had such trouble. The funeral goers were kind afterward, telling me they enjoyed my part but I think secretly they were congratulating me for making it to the end of it with out totally falling from the platform!
My Ant Sab said she thought it was Divine intervention which lightened our sorrow for a moment. My Mom, "It really was the most beautiful I've ever heard you sing...I bet folks were so surprised that you really could sing after such a start."
My cousin hugged me later in the day and said, "I know you are going to spend a lot of time thinking about the beginning of that song, but you really did a good job after that."
After lots of thought and even more imagining, I think Grandma would have given me a pass for making an honest effort, I know she'd have grinned when I finished and would have given me a wink and a nod of approval even though it had been far from perfect.
She was like that.
She always loved us...anyway and even though.
Also...my sister has written a beautiful tribute to our Grandma with words I cannot begin to match and which perfectly captures her place in my sister's life and in the lives of all of her family. Click here to read it.