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Last night I went with my mom and dad to see my grandmother West for her 94th birthday! It seems old age can bring back a child-like quality, as you start to need help from others again and your view of life changes. I say that as if I’ve been old before… but I don’t pretend to know what it’s like to near the end of your time here on earth. My grandmother isn’t afraid of dying either, she’s had such a wonderful life full of love and adventure. Her husband Howard died when I was about 10 or so, and she’s never loved another again. She can’t wait to be reunited with him, she firmly believes that she will be with him and her sons who’ve passed away once her life is over. I believe she will as well.
My grandmother is extremely Catholic, in fact the majority of my West side is. My dad and his six brothers went to Catholic schools and were taught by nuns for their entire education. I too was brought up in the faith, going to a really small church in Warrior, Alabama (St. Henry’s) for most of my life. We were the odd ones out in high school being one of the only few Catholics in our school system. I think the only kid who had it harder was the Jewish boy. I say that with humor because looking back it is all very comical now. There were so many false ideas about what we believed since we were a minority, and for those who actually cared to listen we had to educate a great deal on our faith. For a long time I was a little bitter with the way we were treated by some, but in the end I think it was a good experience to know what it feels like to be different. I think it gave us a greater acceptance of others and the ability to deal with being unique. As for my current faith, I wouldn’t say that I have one. I do not feel like I am Catholic, though I do find comfort in a few things from the practice. Most of my immediate family still belongs to the church, which I respect. At this moment in life I just want to learn about everything, and be open to new ideas. I do the things that make me feel happy and bring me comfort. Those things usually involve being kind to others and living the best life I can.
The thing that I love most about my grandmother is her purity of spirit. She doesn’t have a mean bone in her body, and she is so giving at all times to anyone who needs a little extra love. She is also hysterical and is guaranteed to make you laugh at least a handful of times each visit. Even when she is feeling pretty bad, which has been the case as of late, she will always try to crack a few jokes. What’s even funnier is that her jokes are so rated G, but she manages to pull them off anyway. Most people can’t be funny without dropping a few eff bombs here and there, so it is great to see that she doesn’t need any shock value to make someone smile. She always ends each visit by saying something like this, “I pray everyday that your life is wonderful and everything you deserve. You are so beautiful.” She’s the one who is beautiful.
I don’t know why I’ve been thinking about this lately, but does the body at a wake or a funeral ever strike you as a completely different person than when they were alive? It’s like the essence of who they were is gone, and the soul is no longer there. It’s literally undeniable, actually. A lot of you who are religious are thinking duh, that’s exactly what happens. While I don’t go to church or practice a faith, I believe that is what happens, too. But it is still shocking every time I witness it. I’m not trying to open a religious can of worms here, because I am well aware that faith (or non-faith) is very specific and different for each individual. All I am saying is that wouldn’t it be amazing if it were true – that our souls exist somehow, someway after death. None of us can say for sure, but believing that just feels right.
That’s about it for my deep thoughts for today. I’ve got a very busy Monday at work ahead of me, plus a lot of painting to do once I leave later this afternoon. I’m hoping to still make my move-in date for this weekend, but it’s beginning to look more and more like it will be early next week sometime. There is still so much left to do, but every day I get closer to completion. I can’t wait to see it when it’s done… I know I will be proud of all the work we’ve accomplished. Hopefully I will have survived breathing paint fumes for two weeks straight to appreciate it!