My earliest memory is of a funeral. They say the constants of life are death and taxes… I spent a lot of time in funeral homes before I had even began to pay taxes.
That first funeral was my Uncle Tommy’s, my mothers brother. I remember playing in the basement of the funeral home, and being looked after by my Aunt Karen. I remember how uncomfortable the wool kilt I wore was. I was only 2 years old.
I grew up with stories of an uncle I never knew. I know that he was fiercely loved by everyone whose life he touched. Everyone says he was a lot fun . I know that he was scared to hold me as a baby. And I know that he scaled an apartment building to break in to my parents unit after my dad had locked my mother out… with me still sleeping in my crib. I’ve been told that after he died I accused him of stealing balloons and kites that flew away from me. So much of my upbringing was coloured by his loss. My imagination runs wild when I think of the role he would have had in my life. Is it possible to miss someone you never really knew?
And then we lost more family members. I lost my grandma’s father who would chase me around the hospital in his wheelchair, and then her mother who would hid money in your purse if you paid for coffee, and who could always be counted on to sniff out a bargain or give you slippers for Christmas.
Our family has suffered a great amount of loss. If feels like more than any other family but I know thats not true. We have learned to face it with humour and a remembrance of all the joy that person has brought us.
There was no clearer celebration of life than my grandmothers funeral. She was an unwaveringly kind woman with a tendency to take in strays and treat them as her own. At her core she was a mother. She was as a mom to all of the Scouts in my Grandpas troop, she was a foster parent to countless kids, she insisted that all of my friends call her grandma. She was a supportive and generous friend. I know that people say a lot of kind platitudes about someone when they die but for her they were all true. She was an incredible source of strength and quiet force of nature.
I’m not to sure where I was going with this… In a fit of holiday nostalgia I was looking through photos and I realized that although I have ever reason to be incurably sad , I’m not. Every loss has made me a stronger, more resilient person. But it has also made me more vulnerable. Something I needed to become in order to open myself up to the world. It’s given me a baseline by which to measure the worst and taught me that everything is survivable eventually.
I feel like that sounded like an inspirational quote you see over a beach landscape. Which I totally made it into …