Doing Grandma Proud

I went to a memorial service last night for one of our salon clients. She was not just “any” client, mind you: she was one of my boss’ very first clients. They started their relationship about twenty-five years ago. Fittingly, it was not just “any” memorial service, either. Before I tell you about yesterday, I have to back up a little bit to an event that affected my life in a major way.

My grandmother was a great lady. She was very much involved at her temple, and she was a school crossing guard for years and years; everyone in the neighborhood knew her. She was a loving wife and mother, and she was a crazy-good Grandma who loved all of her grandchildren very much. And we knew it. It wasn’t just from the intense levels of spoiling us that she made her way of life, but also just that she showed so much interest in all of us. (I firmly believe that part of my tiara-wearing attitude was her “fault”.)

Grandma passed away when I was ten and a half years old. She was sitting in her living room with my grandfather and their neighbors, and she had a heart attack: her fourth. Being ten and so close to her, this was a very intense time for me. I remember not wanting to go to her funeral because I was frightened, but my parents made me go. I’m so glad they did; it was a life-altering experience for me.

The main thing I remember about that funeral is that it was jam-packed with people. My parents were obviously busy greeting people and taking care of things, so I stayed with other relatives (including Grandma’s sister, who looked alot like her) who reassured me and reminded me of how much Grandma loved me. But they also kept repeating how amazing it was that all of these people came. Standing Room Only at a funeral. My Grandma’s family and friends, and more friends, and more friends, and still more friends, came out of the woodwork to say goodbye to her. It was such a tribute to someone who touched so many lives. I so badly wished she wasn’t gone, and yet here were hundreds of people who all had unique stories about her. She would live on in them, in all of us. That told me volumes more than what I thought I knew about Grandma. Sure, I knew her as the woman who loved me and spoiled me and bought me my first pair of pantyhose and helped us make homemade potato chips in her kitchen and took us to the city and was terrified of mice and once made eye contact with me while telling me that I should be a teacher (I later earned my degree in Elementary Education), but she was so many other things to so many people. I only knew a little bit of this Powerhouse of a Lady.

Throughout my life I have thought of her often. I still miss her. I have tried to live a life that she would be proud of, and I really do know that she is somewhere up there all proud of all of us: me, Julesie, and even Jim and the boys, though she never met them. That day, the day she was buried, was one of the most inspiring days of my life. I have never been to another funeral like it.

Until yesterday. I will write more about the Margy we knew in the salon sometime soon, because she was a Firecracker. She was, and will remain, one of my favorite salon clients ever.

Her life was celebrated at her church last night in a wonderful service. Her husband did the eulogy and we took turns laughing at some of the stories he shared and crying, watching him try to pull strength from within to get through it without breaking down. He talked about how Margy was so involved in her church. She was a loving wife and mother, and she was a crazy-good Grandma who loved all of her grandchildren very much. And they knew it.

The church? Jam-packed. It was Standing Room Only. People lined the back wall and a portion of the sides. Margy would have been amazed. So many stories, so many lives touched.

Her sister was there, too. She looks alot like Margy, and has a similar personality, smile, and sense of humor. She embodies Margy so much that I almost felt like I was talking to Margy. I’m so glad that I got to meet her.

This was a true celebration. After the service, the Men’s Group at the church made a big Thanksgiving meal for everyone: hundreds of people. The dinner was so nice: it didn’t feel like we had all come together because of someone’s passing. People were chatting and sharing Margy stories; it reminded me that Margy will live on, through her family and all of her friends.

After we ate, my boss and I went to the room that had been filled with photographs of Margy. Her husband and daughters also brought things like the wedding sampler she cross-stitched and other mementos. They had put together a slide show as well, and by the time my boss and I got to the room we were the only ones there. I restarted the slide show (on the laptop) and we stood there looking at Margy’s whole life, right in front of our eyes. We were holding it together pretty well, because there were random photos thrown in of things like “Margy on a camel” and “Margy visits Oprah” (she didn’t have a private audience with Ms. O; she was with friends at a taping…but Oprah was in the picture!). We laughed because the photos chosen for the slideshow represented her and her loved ones so perfectly.

And then I saw him.

Margy’s oldest grandson, a nine-year-old, was standing in the doorway watching the slideshow and bawling his eyes out. He was watching photos of his beloved grandma and so badly wishing she wasn’t gone. My boss went over to him, put her arm around him, and reminded him how much his Grandma loved him, and he nodded through his tears. That’s when I lost it.

And then, when I dried my tears and was in the car, driving home, I smiled. The impact that Margy had on her nine-year-old grandson will carry him through as he tries to live a life that she would be proud of (and he will succeed!). He will remember the jam-packed church and all of the stories, and he will seek more knowledge of this wonderful woman who touched so many lives in addition to his own. He is a lucky boy, as are all of us who had the extreme honor of knowing her.



  • House of Jules

    This made me cry. I hope you send a copy of this to Margy's husband, and that he pass it along one day to his grandson.

    Grandma J was a class act, and you DO live a life that would make her proud! I guess because Aaron & I were only 5, they made us stay behind at the house instead of going to the funeral. I still remember a lot about that afternoon, though, even A&I tearfully choking down our lunch of dry tuna salad sandwiches. Saddest day ever.
    House of Jules

  • Weaselmomma

    Sounds like I missed out on 2 great ladies. I am however grateful that I won’t miss out on the 3rd. Drinks anyone?

  • Melisa

    Julesie: I did in fact send the link to Margy’s daughter just now, so that she can read it whenever she’s ready. She is a really nice woman as well; I’m not surprised.

    I vividly remember using as one of my arguments to try to avoid the funeral, “But Julie and Aaron get to stay here! Why can’t I???”

    Weaselmomma: I’m almost ready, dude. We’re gonna have to set something up and get it on the calendar before I’m old and gray. Wait…too late. (almost)

  • Jennifer

    Okay. Next time you write a post like this, could you PLEASE place a disclaimer at the top warning us to grab a box of kleenex before reading?!? That was very moving and so well written (no surprise there though)! Thanks for a thought provoking post!

  • Kat

    Yeah I am with Jennifer. You should have warned us to keep a box of kleenex at hand before reading this.

    As I was a bit sensitive to this topic this week anyway it made me think back of the great times I had with my grandpa and I want to thank you for that.


  • Michelle

    Oh that is so beautiful, Melisa. You’ve created a lovely tribute and brought back some wonderful memories of my own grandmother. They are very special ladies… and I can only hope that I come across more women like that.

  • Colleen - Mommy Always Wins

    I loved this so much I stumbled it. I, too, have had similar experiences. When my great-grandmother died at 101, the church was packed to the rafters, people standing in the doorways, hallways even. That she still meant so much to so many people at that ripe old age (a time when many people find their family and friends have also died) spoke VOLUMES about the type of woman she was.

    LOVED this!

  • Melisa

    Jennifer: Oops! 🙂 I really didn’t intend for it to be a “Waaaaahhhhhh!” kind of post, but more like an “Ahhh…hmmm” post.

    Kat/Michelle/Colleen: Thanks! It’s funny how some posts come together so naturally; oddly enough, I spent very little time writing this one because it just came out. I work way harder on some of my other posts that end up not being nearly as well written. LOL I think I may have had some “help” with this one though. 🙂

  • oh my GOFF!

    THANKS MELISA. I’m already suffering from a terrible sinus infection and have been crying for two days and then you drop this heffer of an emotional post on me! Someone pick me up off the floor. What a wonderful tribute to your tiara-inspiring grandmother… and good ole’ Margy! I feel like I got to know each of them through your thoughtful writing. Thank you.

  • Anonymous

    Okay, now I’m crying. Good thing the show’s over and I don’t care about mascara.

    Makes me sad to think about all the people without standing room only funerals out there. 🙁

    Need to laugh.

    Now am thinking about the “Angie Goff nice butt” search. Will you PLEASE tell me how we can see how people search us??? You have no idea how curious and yet mortified I am about finding out this info!

  • Dea

    It’s true – the people coming together to remember the loved one lost is such an impact. All the stories and sharing are what makes humans able to keep going. It’s how we live forever on Earth, in the hearts and minds of those we leave behind. I hope that little boy is comforted by that strength in numbers and love he was surrounded by. It’s amazing how much we take away from each other during those moments.

  • megryansmom

    That was so beautiful Melisa. I never met my paternal grandmother and the other one passed away when I was very young, but your Grandma and Margy, that’s the kind of grandma I want to be remembered as. (but not any time soon)