When someone has lived a long and (mostly) happy life, a funeral becomes not a time of grief, but an opportunity to share wonderful memories and to reflect on how lucky you are to have that person in your life. Our family enjoyed looking through old black and white photos of Grandma Hall as a baby, a young girl, a jodphur-wearing teenager with a piebald horse, a grinning newlywed tucked under the arm of a lanky man in a fedora and a double-breasted suit. He was grinning too! A young mother gazing at her baby with adoring eyes, oblivious to the camera. A proud grandmother surrounded by a motley crew of disheveled kids. A time to be grateful, to feel lucky and blessed to have her.
Grandmother died on August 6th after a life well-lived. Old enough to be born into a family whose chief means of transportation was horse and wagon. Old enough to remember when cotton and corn were picked by hand and loaded into the wagon, which was pulled by the horse, to the gin or grist mill. Old enough to have played in a yard that was filled with flowers instead of grass. Old enough to have used a wood burning stove.... even as a newlywed! Old enough to have lived through The Great Depression (her father lost the farm), to watch a husband leave to fight in World War II and to get confused about "swim, swam, swum" because they changed the rule after she finished school.
Old enough to call jeans "dungarees" and the refrigerator the "ice box". Old enough to remember phone operators and doctors who made house calls, and to have made enough chocolate chip cookies, cheese straws, chewy cake, pimento and cheese, apple salad, banana pudding, fried cornbread, and apple tarts to feed a small army of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Old enough to call earrings "ear bobs" and to say things like: "Pretty is as pretty does" and "sit up straight, like a lady".
She loved and was loved and had a pretty marvelous life. There were no grand trips or thrilling adventures. Much of her happiness came in helping others. She and my grandfather would take widows out for Sunday Drives. She sent meals by our house weekly when my mother went back to work and sent her famous deviled eggs to church suppers.
To me she was this elegant blonde who managed to look beautiful with minimal effort. Who never went anywhere without her nails done, her clothes pressed neatly, her hair done up and a pair of earbobs on. She would show me how to do things like paint my nails (a long swipe down first one side, then the other, then a smooth stroke down the middle to finish the first coat), pluck my brows (ouch!) and to sit with my legs tucked to the side. As my cousin Lisa said, I think I'm letting my grandmothers down on the elegance, stately score. I'm usually a mussed, unorganized mess. Despite detailed lessons at her knee, I still can't paint my own fingernails worth a doodle or sew a button on a shirt. But she loved us anyway. Even if those lessons must have seemed like the epitome of futility at times.
She was easy to love.
11 months ago