Somewhere in downtown Baltimore, rests this little placard. Gravestone. Cemetery Marker. Whatever you want to call it. Perhaps in a more pastoral setting you'd find a deceased couple laying side by side amongst a few other scattered memorials, under shade of green leafy tree, between gently rolling hills, but not in urban Baltimore. Or other densely populated cities either, for that matter I guess. The markers are all so close together it's difficult to roll a casket from the hearse to the grave without stepping on somebody elses's headstone, which I was always somehow lead to believe was poor etiquette of the lowest possible nature..
I'm not sure anyone else in my family was present when Claude and Grace made these arrangements. Maybe my mom and her sister handled all of this, almost six years ago to the day when Pop died. But it took us all a minute to realize, Mom-mom and Pop were buried in the same 6 X 8 hole. Over/under. Pop first, Mom-mom on top.
For those of you who might think I'm being casually morbid or callous about the whole thing, I'd like to clarify and say, this wasn't necessarily an entirely sad occasion... not from my perspective. All of us in the family believe that Mom-mom loved the Lord, and went home to be with Jesus after some very difficult years, medically and emotionally, after Pop died. The fact that she died exactly six years, if I remember correctly, the same week that Pop died, is poetic concidence. We all knew how much she missed him, and we believe she was reunited in glory with him, and the Lord. We were very glad that the suffering of renal failure and other problems were finally over. I personally felt relief for my parents, who took Mom-mom under their care, and shared a house with her, ran her to dialysis three times a week, and looked after all of her needs.
In some ways my wife, who had become especially close to my grandmother when she moved "down south" with my parents, probably took her passing harder than I did. Laurie was with her when she died, and I thought it fitting that all of the love and care that she had shown Mom-mom in six years culminated in those final moments.
I tell people our family has yet to experience tragic loss. The passing of our grandparents is not tragic, since we are assured of their salvation and eternal life. But we've never dealt with loss of an immediate family member. What will our family be like? How will we pull together? With all my projected stoicism I still finally "broke" at one moment, seen only by my wife, who is the only person I could stand to be weak in front of. Will our faith comfort us then?
My brothers and I rely on humor to deflect all other emotions (except maybe anger). I mean, there is nothing we won't joke about. (This annoys my wife to no end). I'll give you an example. In the hospital room that last day, they had a cd player playing with my grandfather singing, softly, but enough for Mom-mom to hear if she was able.
The thermostat in the room wasn't working very well, and it was getting very warm. My younger brother observerd that this was going to confuse Mom-mom because she was hearing Pop sing, but it was "hot as hell" in there. That's only funny if you are there, in our family, if you know Jamie, and know my grandparents, and are secure in your faith. I don't care if you don't think it's funny, we laughed our butts off.