11 July 2009

Not My Frivolous Usual

It's been a lovely relaxing day. Other than a trip to the yard for cats to nibble grass and barf it up, I've not left the house. Lovely, lovely, lovely. I really could be a hermit, you know. During the summer, it's nothing for me to go all week without opening the door.

Yesterday, was busier, though, and Thursday. . . Well, Thursday I felt like I was caught in a tsunami.

My great-aunt, a very special lady who has always treated me with great love and affection and has shown my husband the same, died Tuesday afternoon. She was an octogenarian, had lung cancer, and had chosen not to pursue treatments. We saw her in May, then again in about four weeks later, and it was obvious that she was starting to fail. It was also obvious that she was ready for death in a way that I have never witnessed. Most people won't understand this, but that's okay. She was ready, willing, for death. I have never seen a person that did not have something holding them back. Not her. And not in a morbid, "I just want to die" way either. She was very cheerful, and happy to live, but also, just as happy to die. I wish I could explain it better. It was so beautiful.

I got to participate in this death of hers in a way that I didn't anticipate, and would not have agreed to, had I had a choice.

Three of her grandchildren have been gifted with singing voices, and without meaning to be vain, I have been given that same gift. Not an operatic voice, or even a pop star voice, but the voice of my foremothers: an Appalachian, folk, or even bluesy voice. It's generally perfect for a capella, and I remember singing for my grandfather's graveside funeral, when it carried just perfectly.

I don't like to sing in public, though. Anxiety hits like you wouldn't believe and I'd rather just sing for Stoney and the cats and myself.

On the way to Althea's birthday gathering in June, I knew in my soul, my spirit, my inner most being, that I was to sing "Swing Home, Sweet Chariot" for her. No way, was my reaction. Not gonna do it. That is morbid.

If you don't know the words, it contains a reference to getting to heaven before me. . . much better for a funeral. Much better to not sing it at all, was my thought. And fought with that other part of me the whole 1 1/2 drive over that. Never mentioned it to Stoney. Too personal and besides, I was not going to do it.

She asked her grandson to sing, which he did marvelously. And I knew. I had to give her that gift, that song, or die.

I stood up, in front of twenty or so close and distant family members and told her how I'd been fighting it, but that I needed to sing her this song. I cried. I sang. Her daughters smiled and cried. She beamed at me, through the whole thing. Yes, I'll get there before you, her eyes said, and I can't wait.

I didn't want to be a part of that, but I was, and I was blessed as a result.

Her passing was quick; she was actually ill for only a week or so and then her heart just stopped. It was the most beautiful death I've ever encountered--and I generally find death ugly, and mean, and unfair. She set a new standard that I doubt I'll ever see again.

So, Thursday night, Stoney and I made a quick trip up to the funeral home. He was unable to get off work for the funeral on Friday, but we wanted to show support to her family, who are so good to us.

I've got stuff to tell about our yummy meal afterward, complete with pics, but it seems to frivolous, so I'll save it for later.


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