When my grandfather’s heart stopped this past spring, he used his one last moment of decision to kiss my grandmother goodbye. In a church full of black, she wore her favourite deep red skirt suit to his funeral. She curled her hair, coordinated her makeup, and stood tall and graceful in a scene of unimaginable bravery. Theirs was one of the true great love stories, sustained over half a century by affection, faith, courage, and generosity. There would be space and time for grief, but my grandmother chose that day to celebrate the life and love of her extraordinary man.
What came as a shock to us all, especially to my strong, beautiful grandmother, was that there would be only five short months of space and time before she too would pass – the very day before what would have been their 60th wedding anniversary. Neither would have to spend an anniversary alone. My own extraordinary man and I celebrated our 10th anniversary this August. I’ll always be grateful to my grandparents for offering their unconditional love and support when we got married just 5 short months after meeting.
I wouldn’t tell anyone what I was planning for my part of my grandmother’s eulogy, only that I was bringing a prop. I knew was already taking a risk with my leopard print leggings, but since she’d once showed me a snakeskin print tunic/pants outfit from the back of her closet, I figured I was in good company. When it was my turn to speak, I took a step to one side of the pulpit and up at the front of the church, in full view of friends, family, two Reverends, and the entire congregation, I carefully applied a good thick gloss of bright red lipstick.
Appropriate? Sure! We all laughed, and then of course, I completely fell apart describing how my grandmother always used glamour, not as a mask, but as a celebration of the way she saw the world – and her family – full of promise and wonder, and worthy of the very best she could bring to the table.
In a literal sense, what a table! Using the delicious and ingenious strategy of cooking healthy dishes (like their famous peas and mushrooms) they teamed up to keep their love story alive and well far past its genetic due date – telomeres be darned! This Thanksgiving weekend was the family’s first without our dear Matriarch and Patriarch. While the gift of the Quebec cottage they built with their own hands will stay with the family (thank heavens!), their Ontrio home, with all its comforting smells, sounds, collections, and textures, is being dismantled for sale. And individual objects, once separated from their context, begin to lose their meaning.
I am a woman who lives through her senses (through rarely common-sense), and this Thanksgiving I gave thanks to my grandparents the best way I knew how. I made their magical peas and mushrooms (my version above). My kitchen was filled with the smells and tastes of tradition. I added some sauteed onions for some next generation flair, and melted in enough butter to have horrified my grandmother. But time stopped for those few hours, and the unfathomable concept of loss was made tangible. Grief took a physical form, as it had with my lipstick, but in doing so became a celebration.
This morning, my man slept through 5 snooze alarms and by 6:30am I was ranting at him for risking being massively late for a 7:30am dentist appointment. Seeing his pensive face (because who likes going to the dentist anyway), I caught myself. To lighten the mood, I threw a sock at his head from the 3 day old pile of unfolded laundry on our bed. He whipped it back and it got me right in the neck! But when the mock battle subsided, I lifted my face to his, closed my eyes, and waited for our sacred ritual – because you never know how much time you have. Gone was the warrior with impeccable aim, here was a husband, giving his wife a kiss goodbye.
10 thoughts on “Funerals, peas, and a red lipstick kiss goodbye”
Reblogged this on Still_Remains and commented:
You know I’ve had a really painful day today struggling with some challenges life has been throwing at me. It was really refreshing to read this and so inspiring. I hope for unconditional love like this… Grandparents are beautiful. This Quebec cottage is like it’s from a love story. 🙂 I believe I have very much found my soul mate (cheesy) unfortunately distance is in the way at the moment. I am going to now send this to him to read. Keep these beautiful blogs coming. Xxx
Sometimes life reminds me of playing dodge-ball in middle-school, always something being thrown at us, be it socks or life challenges, or even life challenging socks lol. No matter how well you play the game, you pretty much always find yourself sweaty and embarrassed for a good part of the round.
As you can probably imagine, I got quite emotional writing this post. I was at work, which was awkward, but when a creative moment strikes you just gotta go with it. I’m just so happy to have helped, in some little way, you get through your own emotional day. I don’t often write so personally (last post case in point lol), but sometimes the raw truth of our humanity is the only truth worth writing.
Ps. Cheesy peesy! Congratulations on finding your match. I think any great love story demands all the “affection, faith, courage, and generosity,” we can muster. Across time or distance (let me one up your cheesy factor here) ‘true love finds a way’.
You’re a special lady you know!! I love your sense of humour. I read your blog to him and he enjoyed what he heard. He’s Canadian and I’m British 🙂
You are right true love finds a way 🙂
Thank you x
So you got yourself a good Canadian boy, eh? Nice. Happy he and I can both make you smile 🙂
ps. My cousin and her soul mate are living in Cambridge at the moment and love everything about England except the ‘mushy peas’. Sigh… in life, death, and love, it always comes back to the peas.
Yeah he is lovely 🙂 aw Cambridge is great you should make a trip to England! 🙂
Wow, talk about a mixture of topics! Very nice! Love the story of how your grandma looked all gorgeous to show what a beautiful marriage she had had with her wonderful husband and how they had continued to celebrate their anniversary together. So happy for you that you knew your grandparents and had them in your life (mine had passed away early). Thanks for reminding me to put peas and mushrooms on my grocery list – yummy!
Thank you! Ya, they were two remarkable people making one remarkable love story. Sorry to hear you never had a chance to really get to know your grandparents. I hope plenty of legends have been passed down to you about them so you can build your own ancestral image to carry with you. Personally, there are quite a few Cymbria legends that I might not be so keen on my own potential grandkids hearing, but what are we if not human? Enjoy your peas and mushrooms!
Hello Cymbria! I’ve been looking for a blog like yours for ages (honesty, versatility, great writing, down-to-earthiness, etc.), one that would not make me want to throw away my own for a change. You had me from the first sentence (in “Why philosophy is more than mental masturbation”). It’s a bit of a brief review to say that this writing here was perfection… but it is, and I loved the twist of the last paragraph. I’m all shaky with resonance! You have a new reader. (I hope this general thought on your writing is not too inappropriately positioned below a very delicate story about your grandparents.)
Thank you so much, Evelyn! I’m sorry it’s taken me this long to reply to your soul quenching comment. I took a month off blogging to do some brain stretching, but am back in business for 2014. Sometimes blogging can feel like singing in a porta-potty (…er, not that I’ve tried…or…er… left any proof) great resonance but such a limited audience. It means so much to me (beyond description!) that you felt a resonance too, because any creative endeavor is (and here I’m back on the topic of masturbation lol) only wankin’ until some other human can feel pleasure in your process. I’m sure you know what I mean because I’m sure you get a buzz whenever someone soul-connects with Morgana ~wink. Love your attitude, those shorts, and obviously… THAT POWER ME UP SONG!
Gawd, I so need a T-shirt with your comment printed on it!
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