Tag Archives: crying

Nana

Irish-Soda-BreadI ran down the long staircase, rushing as I lost my breath.   She was at the bottom of the stairs waiting for me.  Nana had passed 10 years ago, but there she was standing on an oriental rug silently watching me, dressed in a wool coat with her back against the front door.  I saw Auntie Mary standing next to her, looking into the room to her left and right.  Mary had died a few years before Nana, which broke her heart to pieces.  It broke everyone’s heart really.  They were now constant companions in their world, just as they were in life.  The three of us stared at each other as I caught my breath, standing on the landing.  Why were they here?

The house was an old Victorian where I lived with my then husband.  It was a magnificent house that showed off the glory of it’s time.  Crown molding, hardwood floors and fireplaces anchored the rooms with splendor.  I loved the house, but hated the marriage.  The growing struggle to keep a meaningless marriage together was exhausting, set against the grand harmony of this structure.  I had to get out.

Both Mary and Nana were now totally focused on me.  I tried to talk, but words wouldn’t come out. There was an expression of sympathy from Mary, and I slowly nodded my head to signal to her that I was OK.   But, I wasn’t OK.  There were so many things that I needed to talk to Nana about, to have her save me.  She brought comfort to me when she was alive, just by giving me tea or feeding me her incredible butter-slathered Irish Bread.   So many times, after she passed, I looked for the nourishment only a grandmother can give.  I wanted Nana to talk, but she just smiled at me.

Turning, she opened the door and walked out to the front porch.  I could see Mary move into the formal parlor out of the corner of my eye, as I slowly followed Nana outside.  It was a cold autumn evening that smelled of maple leaves and frost.  I followed in a hypnotic daze, as my shoes crunched on twigs and leaves.  She stopped at a bench that I don’t remember ever being on the property, and we sat down.

I put my head in her lap and started to cry.  I cried for bad choices that I had made, I cried for getting into a bad marriage,  I cried for not being a better mother, I cried for not being the ideal daughter, I cried for global warming for God sakes, I cried for nothing at all, and I cried because I simply missed her.  She had been gone much of my adult life.  Still silent, she rubbed my back and arm and told me without speaking that she loved me and will always watch over me.  I would have loved to hear that sweet Irish brough, but it wasn’t important at the moment.  Everything was said.

I haven’t been visited in my dreams by Nana since that night, but she does live in my heart.  I think of her often when I need relief, the way she rubbed my back on that bench.  I have a wonderful mother, who is an incredible grandmother to my children.  She comforts them, and gives them tea when they need it.  Her Irish bread is good, just not as good as Nana’s.

Putting Charlie to Rest

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We put Charlie to rest today.  It was a small funeral with a handful of family members and Mom and Dad.  His box of ashes sat in front of us as soldiers went through the honor ceremony.  We blessed ourselves through prayers while the wind lashed out at us.  My middle-aged graying cousins, who I hardly knew, stood with us as the grieving do, but there was no crying, no sorrow.  In fact, no one really knew Charlie.

Charlie was 88 years old when he died last week.  Dad found him when he went to check on him.  Charlie was a brother and an uncle, never a husband or a father, and he was barely that as he kept to himself, afraid of human contact.  Dad is the baby of the family, and at 80 years old himself, was Charlie’s main caretaker.  Anxiety ruled Charlie’s world.  He was a recluse because of his fear of people, and would only go out to doctor’s appointments.  Other than that, he would sit in his chair, in his apartment, in his building and reject the world outside.    He spent most of his life living with his other bachelor brother Chris, who also cared little to socialize.  But, at least Chris would be the life of the party when he did go out.  They bickered constantly.   Charlie was like an old cat lady, without cats, wearing tattered clothes and talking to himself.  Chris died a few years back, and Charlie was left alone, which was probably how he preferred it.

People didn’t visit Charlie, and he liked it that way.  He would occasionally call my Dad and always say, “hello this is Charlie from Wareham”, which my brothers and sister found amusing.  So, we never called him Uncle Charlie, we would always say, “so, how is Charlie from Wareham doing?”  We did see him more when he spent some time living with my parents.  He had his routines that drove my mother up a wall, but not my Dad.  He had a severe lack of hygiene, as well as being nearly deaf.  He would painfully try to engage us, but would never hear the answer and would refer to my sister and I as Ann or Joan.  Our names are Susan and Jo.  He would go back to drinking his tea once the ill-fated conversation was over.

When I spoke to my cousin’s before the funeral, there was a consistent theme.  While they all felt sorry that Charlie was gone, they each said, “I hardly knew him, but I’m here for your Dad.”  I guess that’s what funerals are all about, being there for the people who are most effected by the death.  Prepared or not, it’s got to hurt on some level.  My Dad has always been loyal to his family, even when they weren’t loyal back.  It didn’t matter to him.  Because having an open heart, enjoying people, having contact is the right way to be.  There will surely be a lot of tears at my father’s funeral, and everyone will have known him well.

So, why do we say the dead are at “rest”.    I think everyone needs rest from this crazy world, but the ones who really need the rest are blessing themselves in the wind and holding back the tears.

Rest easy Dad.