Frozen in time, great-grandmother once again stood firm in her youth. Faintly grinning, it was hard to deny her beauty. From her flowing black mane tamed into a sea of symmetric ringlets to the glittering jewels embracing her clavicle, she looked casket sharp, almost ageless. I had not seen her this at peace since great-grandfather’s funeral. There she had worn a tailored white pants suit in celebration of his life; a dissimilar ensemble to the loose-fitting gown now draping her plump frame. She wanted to be comfortable for her homecoming; said, “I wish to dance to every hymn you sing me. I will foxtrot your somber sorrow, waltz along your prayers, but please provide me an upbeat. If I am to be young again, I wish to lindy hop with my beloved as we had so long ago”. She requested “I’m Beginning to See the Light” sung by Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington to accompany her grand exit. Great-grandmother was a restless soul and wouldn’t waste a four-count on silence, especially during her own celebration of life.
And a celebration it would be. Great-grandmother had not feared death and Father Time, rather she visibly awaited their impending company. After her tumble down the stairs at home, I frequently caught her talking to air. Said she was recounting her past to bide the time as Death ambled closer. She was bored with being bedridden due to her ailing joints; she couldn’t wait to release her soul. In excitement, she wrote a list of do’s and don’ts for her funeral, “Do dress in your finest garments; this is a jubilee in my honor. I expect nothing less of my children. Don’t wear black; you can mourn me however you like, in whatever shade you want, when I am truly gone. Until then, dazzle me in colors,” and on and on she wrote until she didn’t. Fingers cramped, she sighed with exhaustion. She dropped her pencil and passed the paper to me. “What do you think,” she asks me, “Do you think you will have a great time?”
Her face shallow and eyes sunken, she looks at me hopefully, almost pleading for a yes. She is old and tired, through with her time here, but still the matriarchy of our family. Setting aside her list, I gently reach for her frail hand, “You have done all you can whilst living and it has been great. I have loved every moment of your time, but when you die please don’t worry. You raised us well, plus you outlined the occasion to a ‘T’”, she chuckles, “so dance with great-grandfather. We will have fun.”
And danced she did.