19 January 2010

Away; Back Again

I was away for a few days. My grandmother, Mama Doris, died. It was not unexpected. She was 90, and her health had been steadily failing since last summer. She spent the last few weeks of 2009 expressing her readiness to die.

She was a strong, difficult woman. I had a good relationship with her, mostly because I had a life that she considered successful and, due to geographic distance, she didn't witness my myriad daily screwups. She had high standards for everyone, herself included. She had a way of turning a compliment into a criticism, and a personality that brought out any inkling of perfectionism in anyone who encountered her. She and my grandfather were married for 66 years, until he died almost exactly two years ago. I don't think I've ever known a happier married couple.

I went to her memorial with my father (Mama Doris was his mother), my mother, and my stepfather. My mom and my grandmother remained close even after my parents divorced, and Mama Doris was always warm and welcoming to my stepdad, too. The memorial was held in Southwest City, Missouri, the town where she and my grandfather had lived and raised their four boys, and near where much of my father's extended family still lives. My two uncles, six cousins, and all the spouses were there, and it was fun to catch up, tell stories about Mama Doris, and enjoy each others' company. I suppose that for some families, the presence of my mom and stepdad might have been awkward or unusual, but it was all OK for all of us. In some ways, my extended family is pretty open-minded. If I've never mentioned this before, now would be the time to say that when my mom married my stepdad, my father is the one who walked her down the aisle and gave her away. Yes, you read that correctly.

I've put off writing about Mama Doris's death and the trip to the midwest, mostly because it's sad when people die and latley I don't feel like writing about sad stuff. For the most part, I've felt pretty happy these days. As I have alluded to in recent posts, the arrival of 2010 has felt like a fresh start in a way that the new year usually does not for me, and I find myself rejuvinated and refreshed. Sure, some days are not so good. I can still be impatient. The other night, I yelled at Maddie for something silly then yelled at Riley for good measure. The cleanup that needs to get done from December's burst pipe is still not complete. My grandmother died. Annoying, sad, life-changing things continue to happen. But the underlying feeling is one of optimism, and I had felt hesitatnt to burst that bubble with a big, heavy post about Death.

To lighten the mood, here are a couple of amusing anecdotes from my trip to the middle of the United States:
  • Our hotel was across the street from a gas station/convenience store called Kum & Go. I bought a travel mug out of amusement/disgust.
  • The first night there, we ate at a restaurant called the Rib Crib. It was about three blocks from our hotel. My uncle suggested that not only should we drive, but we should take two cars in case he needed to leave earlier than the rest of us. We convinced him that we could all walk.
I'm sure there is good food to be had in that part of the world, but I did not have it. My life was devoid of decent coffee for three days! Woe is me, I know.

It's good to be back. I'm wearing one of Mama Doris's signature costume jewelry necklaces today. I miss her.

33 comments:

Keen said...

Aw, Snick, I'm so sorry to hear about your Mama Doris. I'm glad you got to spend time with family telling stories about her. I know I have fun telling stories about my dad.

I loved your Missouri stories. I've seen that convenience store, but I didn't know they sold travel mugs or I totally would have bought one.

Lots of love to you and your family. I'm glad 2010 has you feeling optimistic, and I hope things look up soon!

Amber said...

I hope Mama Doris can live on in all sorts of beautiful new-to-you jewelry! Sorry to hear about your loss... sounds like she lived quite a life though!

jmconkling said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. It's hard to feel so sad when you know they're so ready to go. My grandpa died last year and I felt bad that I wasn't devastated. I was sad for me but so happy that he was finally where he wanted to be. (My grandma passed away a couple of years before and his last year he was adamant he was ready to go.)

I live about 30 miles away from Southwest City in Bentonville, Arkansas and those stupid Kum and Go's are taking over our area. Ick.

Anonymous said...

My father's mother was also named Doris and sounds so, so similar. My aunt always says she is glad my father was the favorite because to have that kind of intensity and high expectations focused ALL THE TIME would have been too much. I've got a drawer full of grandma doris' costume jewelry as well.

Be well.

WebGal said...

Sorry to hear about your Mama Doris. She sounds like she was a great lady!

Another thing touched me about this post...your father walking your mother down the aisle to your step-father. That is such a touching thing. Wow is about all I can utter.

One last thing...Kum and Go's corporate headquarters is in the town that I live in. Cool, right? Not really...but it's true. Not sure what they were thinking when they named that chain.

beyond said...

sorry to hear about your loss.
your dad walked your mom down the aisle when she remarried? your family sounds pretty awesome! you should wear that jewelry with pride...

Mary Ellen said...

A sad event - but an upbeat and affectionate send-off for your grandmother, who, it appears, lived well and long. I hope the fresh-start energy persists, and this turns out to be the best year yet.

Wishful Nals said...

what a sweet post. i am glad you are feeling optimistic. i can relate, that at times, it can prove to be difficult to not feel guilty. when there are times of trial, one should be sad, right? right. but sometimes, the perspective allows us to be grateful + rejoice in what we do have. and that is not a bad thing. the sad thing is still sad. i am sorry for your loss + i hope that you dance around in Mama Doris' glory.

Yankee, Transferred said...

Sorry, Snick, about Mama Doris.

OTRgirl said...

Your funeral story reminds me of my grandmother's. Small town, Kansas, expected death, NO healty food, great family reunion. More fun than sad in the end. A celebration of life well-lived.

I would love to hear more about your parents. They sound like amazing people.

Kum & Go. Ugh.

Roads said...

Sorry to hear about that, Snick.

These things are easier to bear when they happen in the right order. That's one more thing that you learn.

Christie said...

That is quite the travel mug. I don't travel much and I don't drink coffee but I'd have been tempted to get one of those, too. Sorry about your loss.

Lois Grebowski said...

So sorry to hear about Mama Doris. HUGS.

That's so funny we both blogged about Kum & Go in the same week! Yes, it was so funny that mine was on the corner of Johnson street.
Mine was in NW Arkansas -- Springdale.

I'm clicking the follow button... you've got a nice place here...

christina(apronstrings) said...

That is not the name of the station. OMGah-and in the bible belt!
I am sorry that she died-no matter how expected and perhaps even desired on their part-it's always sad.

Anonymous said...

kum and go !!!!
that alone kept the post from being a sad one. glad to hear of your optimism despite her death.
Maybe you should flirt a little with the school teacher when you pick up the kids today to end the day with a smile!Sounds like Doris might have wanted you to maximize your opportunities!
amanda in ATL

caramama said...

Sorry for your loss. But I'm glad that the feeling of optimism is still there for you.

amyunicorn said...

Hugs to you and yours.

Eugenie said...

I'm sorry about Mama Doris and my thoughts are with you...as you know, lost grandparents have been weighing heavy on my mind lately (per my wine-soaked Facebook status last week). And...I HAVE to have one of those mugs. Booking flight to the midwest now. Or, you know, ebay.

Susan said...

Sorry about your loss. Grandparents are so very important people in our lives. I never tire hearing about what life was like when they were young. Your parents sound amazing Snick. They really do.

April said...

Kum & Go as horrible of a name it is-is actually a chain of gas stations here in the midwest. I see them all the time and I still giggle.

comebacknikki said...

I'm so sorry.
{{{Snickollet}}}

Alayna said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. Sacha's grandmother died recently, too, and she also just returned from the funeral across the country. I hope the rest of 2010 brings many more moments of happiness than sadness!

Crash Course Cardiologist said...

My 92-year-old grandmother just died over the holidays as well ... I think, near the end, Nonni was ready to go too. Still, sad all around. My condolences ...

Angela said...

I am so sorry about Mama Doris. It sounds like she lived a long and very full life, she was indeed very fortunate.

Sorry you couldn't get a decent cup of coffee, isn't nice to be back home?

Holley said...

Your description of Mama Doris seems perfectly on point - at least from my short 5 years of knowing her. I am also wearing one of her necklaces today; a long gold one with big red beads on it. It screams "grandma" but I still like it!

Amidst all the stories, I found myself envious of the shenanigans that those Nichols/Thompson boys got into. And the casual intimacy that all of the families in that little town shared. We're all so scattered these days. Scattered and busy.

Take care, and I look forward to the next occasion that I get to see you!

Leah said...

Sorry to hear about your mama Doris. I hope 2010 is a great year for you.

(another) karen said...

so sorry to hear about your grandmother.

hoping the remainder of 2010 brings only happiness for you and your family.

all the best,
karen

winecat said...

So sorry to hear of your loss. She sounds like an amazing woman.

Amelie said...

I'm sorry to hear about Mama Doris.

The story of your mom's 2nd wedding is priceless though.

Supa Dupa Fresh said...

What a woman.
Her, and you, too.
I'm imagining the jewelry now... got a bunch when my grandma passed right after Gavin.
HUGS to you and yours!
X
Supa

Fairlington Blade said...

I remember Kum & Go. There was on in Ames, IA, where I went to grad school. The first time I saw it, I thought that you have GOT to be kidding.

When they named it Southwest City, they really meant it!

BB

abernier said...

First, I'm sorry about your grandmother. I hope she enjoyed the fact that you had twins.

Second, what a wonderful legacy of love and friendship that your dad walked your mom down the aisle!

Anonymous said...

My (30+ year old) brothers call that convenience store chain by a different name....

Anytime we visit family in that state, I'm guaranteed to hear about the "Ejaculate and Evacuate." :)