Tuesday, May 6, 2014

While The Roses Bloom

Last year on July 4th, I wrote this post. 

It was about Billy's grandfather and his passing. I wrote in another post that it was MawMaw, his bride of sixty years whom I was worried about and she had a terrible time after her beloved husband died. Physical pain and depression. One can only imagine. She was frail and tiny as a wren's dried bone and Billy and the whole family tried so very hard to keep her going, to get her out of the house, to try and find things to do with her that would interest her, to try and make sure she ate, took her medications, got to her doctors' appointments.
Billy wrote about some of the things they did together in his blog, Shit Me And MawMaw Do. 

It's been hard. Very hard.

And today when I was in town running from here to there, I got a text from Billy that said, "If you want to say good-bye to MawMaw you should come do it now."

She had been in the hospital for almost a week and was fading, failing but this morning still coherent, wanting a milkshake, a cup of coffee. But this afternoon, she grew more ill. Pneumonia.

I drove to the hospital, parked, went up in the elevator, found her room, last one in the hallway. Her daughter, Billy's mother was there. She was crying in the arms of her best friend. MawMaw lay still on the bed with an oxygen mask on, her eyes were closed. I hugged Billy's mother and Billy too and then sat in the chair beside MawMaw and I kissed her and I stroked her and I told her how much my whole family loved her and I said, "You've done real good. Safe passage."
And either right after or during or maybe right before, she left us.

Everyone else got to the hospital and I stepped out of the room and stayed with the great grandkids. People came and went. It was as these things are.
Billy's sister, her children, Shayla, Billy's wife and their son. Hank. Our friend Mark. Goodbyes, last kisses were given. Nurses brought boxes of Kleenex for the grownups, Popsicles for the kids. Grape. That gave us something to do- wipe up grape Popsicle juice from the floor with the Kleenex.

A long, long time ago, MawMaw asked me if I would speak at her funeral service and of course, I said yes. The sort of promise easily made when no one is ill. Billy's mother asked me today if I could do that. She remembered. I said that of course I would. And I don't know what I'm going to say but I have some time to think about it. People are flying and driving in, the arrangements will be made.

I think what I will want to say is just that there was no one like Nell Lunsford. She was nobody's fool, she didn't tolerate bullshit, she loved you for who you were whether you were black or white, gay or straight. She and PawPaw watched Billy transgender and marry Shayla and were as proud of him as anyone on this earth could have been. Loved Shayla like a daughter, welcomed her into their family with open arms and open hearts.
The way they welcomed all of us.

Well. She's gone and she's not in pain any more and I don't believe in any version of an afterlife especially but if any two souls who have gone on can find each other in whatever way that may happen, she and PawPaw are together.

They played this at PawPaw's funeral and I keep thinking of it now.

I'll be waiting on the far side banks of Jordan
I'll be sitting drawing pictures in the sand
And when I see you coming I will rise up with a shout 
And come running through the shallow water, reaching for your hand.

Safe passage, MawMaw.
You done real good.
You are loved. This side and that one too.



  1. Sending my tenderest of heartful energies to all .

  2. I am glad MawMaw is at peace and sad that such a wonderful and loved person is gone. What forethought she had to ask you to speak at her service. I am positive you will do her great justice as you have Billy. My condolences to everyone who knew and loved her, especially Billy. Sweet Jo

  3. The loving and losing -life, all of it, and it all goes on as it should but damn. Sometimes I wish it didn't have to -even as childish a thing to say as that is.

    I am thinking of Billy and his whole family. Thank you for sharing him and them with us all these years.

  4. Oh no!
    At least MawMaw is with the true love of her life again, so there is comfort in that. When you see Billy, give him a big hug from Canada.
    I'm sure you'll do her justice with your words and tenderness.
    Peace and love to you all.

  5. I'm just grateful that you've introduced us to these people -- that we've come to know them in a small way and can mourn a bit for them, too. I send my love to all.

  6. Sending lots of hugs from over the pond to you all whilst you heal from your loss... She appeared in your writing to be one hell of a lady, and her husband a smasher too... so all blessings and love and hugs to you all from me, over the pond..J

  7. Big Mamabird- Thank you.

    Sweet Jo- You ARE sweetness. I am glad you are here. So glad.

    SJ- It is so much joy to be able to share these people. They are the best.

    heartinhand- Thank you, darling. I will give that hug gladly.

    Elizabeth- We are all family somehow, aren't we?

    janzi- Thank you. And if I have portrayed them as such, then I have done it truthfully.

  8. condolences all round. What a beautiful woman she was.
    Safe passage to us all.

  9. Oh, I agree with Elizabeth, and am always glad to be reminded that we are all one family...

  10. She sounded like a wonderful woman. I'm sorry she's not in our world anymore. We need the good ones to stick around. xoxo

  11. So beautiful and sad, Mary. I'm glad you'll be there to speak.

  12. Yobobe- They were an incredibly beautiful couple. Just startlingly so.

    Big Mamabird- Yes we are.

    Rachel- But there comes a time when we must leave and I think that MawMaw was there.

    Jo- I'm trying not to think about that at the moment. It'll be fine. I'm sure. Maybe I'll have a good stiff rum and coke beforehand- MawMaw's favorite beverage.

  13. Sending loving condolences. I can't imagine what it would be like to be be left alone after all those years. And well, I just realized that will never befall me.
    What a loving tribute you have written. I'm sure your spoken one will be perfect. xo

  14. It seems that those who have been together for a long time, don't last long after one of the couple dies. I'm sure that their energy is co-mingling all around.


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