Tuesday, March 22, 2005


This is kind of an awkward, jumbled column, because it was an awkward, jumbled kind of trip.

Gloria is over at her grandmother's house, spending some time there with her brother and aunt to say farewell to a place that has meant to much to all of them. Eli 3.7 is with his grandmother, which allows me, for the first time in a few days, to write.

Which feels good.

I used to need hours to get "in the mood" to write. I convinced myself that it was necessary "to the process." Actually, it was just lazy. I can write more in half an hour now than I could in three hours back then. That whole tortured young artist jacket always fit very awkwardly on me. I'm just not shaped like that. Not anymore.

I've been thinking about Neva while we've been here. I didn't go to the funeral because someone needed to be with Eli and I was the natural choice. So Eli has been kind of a little bubble around me, shielding me from the most explicit moments of grief.

I think every person must define their lives in their own terms. I'm not sure how I'd define mine. Neva defined her life in terms of how many people she loved and how many loved her. Her house was always full of life, full of people--some family, some not, but everyone was welcome.

I remember something very distinctive about Neva, and it's my favorite memory of her. She told hundreds of stories about her life, and almost every single one was happy. Being the first family in her town to have a motorcar, and her daddy teaching her to drive it when her feet could barely reach the pedals. Getting a little bag of fresh oranges for Christmas. There were plenty of sad moments in her life, some crushingly so, but she barely mentioned them. Every story was happy and life was a great adventure.

Her funeral was small, for even though she made many people happy, she outlived almost all of them. That seems like the best of all possibilities: live a happy life and outlive your mourners.

When Gloria went to see her in the hospital last week, she wasn't lucid on the first day, but on the second her mind cleared and she saw all the people who had come to see her. And when she could talk, she told them how much she had enjoyed her life and how she loved her family. Even near her passing, she found a way to be what she had always been.


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