I have been a reverend for about a year now. In that time, I’ve never had the opportunity to baptize a baby, marry a happy couple, or proceed over a funeral. All I’ve done is share my irreverent beliefs on religion — I like to point out the ridiculousness and the other unnatural aspects of all this nonsense. At the same time, I do like to go on philosophical whimsies, which I think have just as much merit as any other priest or vicar or pope. My ministry has always been a digital one — my church is the Internet and this website is my pulpit. That’s fine by me. I’d happily perform any of those services, though in real life. If you want to get married, let me know.
Now that my grandmother has passed away, it puts a different spin on this post. Instead of my usual rubbish, I think I’ll try to be a bit more serious, which will take considerable effort on my part. For reasons that I can’t begin to understand, they don’t want a comedic reverend on the day her cremated remains are interred in the earth. I suppose I shouldn’t whine and complain about this affront to my ministry, but it does offend me a bit. There aren’t many people alive that knew her any better. I can’t think of any, actually.
Before we begin, let’s stand and open our hymnals to our dear Beyoncé’s Heaven.
Lovely song, that. Beyoncé can just do no wrong.
So, Grandma Betty died on Monday morning, which was really poor timing on her part since I was in Los Angeles having a splendid time in the sun and seeing all the stars. I suppose you can’t really decide on why your body shuts down of natural causes, though.
She was not related to me biologically, which has never mattered a bit. I’m a firm believer in choosing your family. You should surround yourself by people who are good to you. She was no saint, far from it, but she was never awful to me the way she could be to others.
Without her presence in my life, I can hardly imagine who I would be today. Growing up, she would tell me the most wonderful stories of her life in the South of France where she lived in the 1950s with her husband who was stationed there with the Navy. I adored these stories and the thought of living in a foreign country so much. So, when I began high school, I immediately signed up for French because I thought it was such an enchanting language. By learning this new tongue, I fell in love with the language, the culture, and the people. French cuisine was a particular obsession, especially baking. Because of these newfound interests, I studied in Paris at le Cordon Bleu. I highly doubt this would have ever happened to me if I’d never met her. I would have had very limited exposure to French culture — it wouldn’t be a part of my life at all.
As I grew older, she became more of a friend than anything else and the stories of her past became more personal and endearing. Now that she has passed on to whatever comes next, I feel comfortable enough sharing a portion of this.
When she lived in Villefranche-sur-Mer, a gorgeous village that I love visiting, she fell in love with a rather handsome Frenchman. These memories always made her the happiest; I liked to see her happy. She wasn’t really a kindly, positive, or even personable woman. She was rude to the majority of people that crossed her path. She routinely made hateful comments. Still, for reasons I’ve never understood, she was almost always kind to me. We had a better relationship than most.
I suppose if I’m honest, I loved the idea of her past more than who she was in my lifetime. I envied her. I want to experience life in 1950s France. I want to have friends who are respected linguists and handsome real estate agents and bar owners and hotel managers and professional soccer players. Alas I’m not. But, I did move to Paris and I did do things that were unlike myself. She was very right when she told me that everybody should have a French lover at some point in their lives.
I can’t say that I will miss her tremendously, since she has long been far from the woman she used to be. Still, she was a massive figure in my life and I will miss knowing that she’s of this earth. My friend put it best when she called Grandma Betty a “landmark.” That’s an excellent word for her. She was a landmark. She was my connection to an era of history that I loved best. She represented a life I admire. She had a bitter attitude which amused me. I will miss her after all.
I was going to make a joke on Facebook that still makes me laugh, but I was told it might be in bad taste. Grandma Betty was never one for good taste, so I’m sure she will appreciate it: I hope she went to Hell so that I’ll get to see her again.
Rest peacefully, wherever it is you are, if that’s anywhere at all.