At funerals people tend to speak of good memories. They speak of kindness and compassion, how no one ever disliked that person. At my grandmother's funeral, no one spoke. We couldn't bring ourselves to stand up and lie. My grandmother had never been compassionate. Ever since I could remember she had been a story teller, to put it nicely. She told lie after lie to anyone she met. She once told everyone at church that my teenage sister had gone to Florida to stay with her dad because she was pregnant. When she returned from he visit with her dad, my sister was so embarrassed about the lie, she never went to church again. Years later, she was banned from that same church for reasons unknown to me. When I was a toddler she called CPS on my mom because my mom wouldn't let her make the parenting decisions. My grandmother liked to be in charge. Anyone who disagree with her was wrong. She made sure you knew that she was in charge by talking louder than anyone in the room. On more than one occasion she had called the police to her house to have a family member who was living there kicked out with no notice given at all to the family member. She seemed to prefer her garden and feeding squirrels to her family. Thank go for that though because Mamaw could not cook. We would all reluctantly eat her meals to not hurt her feelings, but it was not good. As dementia set in, things only got worse. I knew it was her time when she had stopped talking. Mamaw never stopped talking. The day before she passed we had come to visit her in the hospital and she didn't even recognize us. She just quietly whispered to the baby, her great grandson who she had just met and ignored the rest of us. So we all struggled that fall day to say anything because we all thought that there was nothing nice to say. "She was a loud, strong, bossy old lady." just doesn't quite have the same ring to it.
It's been a few months now, and it seems every time I go to her house to help clean or pack away her things I discover another memory. No one ever knocked on Mamaw's door, we all just walked right in. Most of us lived there at one point or another. When Steve had spent every last dime we had on drugs and got us kicked out of our house, 5 kids, and 2 adult shared the upstairs bedrooms of her house. That Christmas I was sick, and I laid in her bed while she brought me soup and let me play with my new toys. She loved christmas, we all did. We were all there when she died, my mom, sister, and I along with three of my four uncles. No one shed a tear. Not because we did not mourn her, but because we are tough. We don't cry in my family, we get through it. That we learned from Mamaw. One day I know my funeral will come. I hope that people will have something nice to say about me. Maybe a sweet tale about my passion for gardening, or how my door was always open to anyone who needed me. Maybe they won't say it out loud, but I know they will all be thinking that I was a loud, bossy woman. I hope at least some of them will know, I got it from my grandmother. Maybe I will learn to cook one day.
Patricia Louise Cartwright March 17th 1940- October 19th 2016 Loud, Strong, Bossy, lover of Christmas, and Gardening just like me.