I apologize for my slacking ways this week. I have a new website I have no idea how to use. I'll be learning ASAP and will soon be moving the blog over to the official AngryShrink.com webpage. Woo-hoo!
In personal news, my grandfather passed away at 82 years old this week. He and my grandmother were married for 54 years and the two of them were the best team ever. I miss them both but I did get to deliver the eulogy for both of their funeral ceremonies. It's my way of honoring them. The following is the eulogy I gave today.
It’s almost impossible to think of my grandfather without thinking of my grandmother. I can’t help but to think, Memere had a lot of input here. Christmas was her favorite time of the year. At Memere and Pepere’s house, the Christmas Carols started in October and went pretty much through February.
Christmas at the Granger house was truly a sight to behold. A lot of people can say they had great family Christmases and traditions but how many of them can say they had a musical, spinning Christmas tree? Memere and Pepere did Christmas like nobody’s business. My last conversation with Pepere, before he left The Village, was, ironically, about Christmas. Or, more precisely, Christmas ornaments.
In my family every year, Memere and Pepere would give each grandkid an ornament. We usually received these on Christmas Eve so we could put them right on the tree in time for Santa to see them when he stopped by. The past few years, Christmas hasn’t really felt good to me. In fact, I think I may have been holding a grudge because the holiday reminded me so strongly of my grandmother and I wasn’t ready for that. It hurt too much, it felt too soon, and when Pepere moved out of the house on Hackmatack, a little part of me went with him. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was really angry.
I was angry that he was old and frail. I was angry that she was gone. I was angry that despite all our best efforts, the job of keeping him in that house was simply too big. I felt like a failure. I know it sounds crazy but I really thought I was letting him and Memere down. I believed she was disappointed. I buried that hurt under layers of anger because feeling angry is so much easier than feeling grief or accepting change.
I buried it so well I forgot it was there. But this year, something inside of me shifted. For the first time since I became an adult and left the nest, I had a real Christmas tree to decorate. I had a real plan to do something really fun and totally for myself and my husband’s pleasure and all of you who received our Christmas card have seen the end result of my letting go of that anger.
A funny thing happened this year as I decorated my tree. I had Christmas carols playing and was decorating by myself. It was then that I realized, almost every ornament on my tree came from Memere and Pepere. I have almost 30 years worth of ornaments, painstakingly wrapped in tissue and saved for me by my mother, the planner. I’m so grateful to her for keeping those ornaments for me and making sure I had them when I was ready for them. Even more than the ornaments given to me by my grandparents, I had ornaments from their home to put on my tree this year. Ornaments I have been looking at my entire life, that I used to decorate the tree at Memere and Pepere’s house when we were all together.
I told Pepere that. I told him how smart they were to have given us something we would have forever without even trying.
I also told him about a funny thing that happened to me this season as I was decorating my tree a few days after Thanksgiving. The first ornaments to go on my tree were the ones from their home on Hackmatack Street. As I hung them on the tree I began to feel something warming in my chest and my heart. I began to smile without realizing it and as I continued to hang those ornaments I felt the most intense sensation of love. Of being loved. Of deep happiness and peace. I knew what I was feeling was special. I know it was my grandmother. She came to me to let me know, I didn’t need to be angry at Christmas anymore. She reminded me that Christmas was her absolute favorite time of year and, as I pointed out to Pepere in our last conversation, Memere never gave me bad advice. She wanted me to feel her presence to remind me of that. I truly believe she was visiting me to let me know she was close by and she knew I would pass the message along to Pepere.
He smiled when I told him that. He said, “Your grandmother loved Christmas. It was her favorite.” I realized then, in that moment that while she was the front of the operation, he was the one behind the curtain making sure she had everything she needed or wanted to make Christmas (or, actually, any other day of the year) really special. Pepere made sure the tree was cut straight on the bottom so it would fit precisely in that spinning, singing, stand. He was the one who painstakingly stored the ornaments and decorations each and every year. He was the one who would build our toys for us when they required assembly. Pepere was the one who let her have the spotlight while he made sure things ran with precision. The only time he commanded attention was when he was playing Santa and passing out the mounds of presents beneath the tree.
It wasn’t only at Christmas that he quietly ensured things ran according to plan. Memere and Pepere were a team in every sense of the word. Well, by team I mean, she wished for something, he made it come true. Even when - well especially when I think - she needed him to be the bad guy and deliver unpopular news. No matter the request, large or small, he lived to make her happy. And I think we can all say, he did a great job.
So remember that today, we celebrate the life of Pepere. A life that started out small in the town of New Bedford, Massachusetts that grew and grew into what you see around you today. Six children. Six loved daughter and son-in-laws. 13 Grandchildren. And one, great-grandson. This is not a time to mourn a loss. This is a time to open ourselves to the joy of reunion. By no means do I believe this timing is accidental. He wanted to go out on a high note and Memere wanted to say hi to us all and let us know, by virtue of the season, she’s with us. She wants us to know it’s okay. She called and he went, he’s with her, where he’s meant to be, where he wanted to be. Some things never change. Open your hearts to the love they had, let that be your comfort.
Merry Christmas Memere and Pepere and all of you.