Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Hey, Mr. Guitar Man, play a song for me.

There are hard days, and then there are hard days that are also good days. Yesterday was one of those both days. And like my aunt Jenni said, it was a bittersweetness that was more sweet than bitter. It was wonderful to be with all of my family and extended family. It was wonderful to remember my granny, and to rejoice in the amazingness that was her life. It was wonderful to learn new things about her, including the fact that on her wedding day, she told her close friend that she was tempted to wear a sign on her back that said, "I made this dress myself!" When I heard that I was so happy, and so glad that on my wedding day she didn't have to tell people, because I announced it for her with a microphone right after after S and I shared our wedding vows. Many people really did sit with her and talk with her about it. It was probably heaven for her. The second story I loved that I had not heard before concerned her time as an elementary teacher. Everything she did, she did big. When her 5th graders finished a book, she would give them permission to stand on top of their desk and shout, "I finished Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!" (or whatever book they happened to finish). I would have loved that as a 5th grader. I think I would still love that now. (I finished Fear and Trembling! I finished Either/Or! I finished an almost 900 page biography on Kierkegaard! etc.)

It was amazing to reflect on the legacy that my granny left us. It was wonderful to be filled with immense gratitude that she was mine. But, the most wonderful thing of all happened after the funeral, when we gathered back at her house. It also happened to be the first time that I made it there. Thankfully it was not the sadness that I suspected it would be, likely because by then I had already done much harder things (like viewed my granny and even helped my aunts and mom dress her for her burial). The second of those parenthetical remarks is something I would never have suspected I would do. It came about after my dad suggested that I could help with it, and I was filled with one part fear but two parts unexplainable desire to accept his offer. Dressing her was strange at first, and made me stream tears, but was also a sweet experience--sweeter than I can express. But back to the most wonderful part. The most wonderful part was sitting around with my cousins, and aunts and uncles, and parents, and siblings singing all of the old songs we used to sing together with my grandparents, and that my immediate family used to sing on long road trips, before ipods and laptops and dvd players. It was extra nice because my uncle Davey is an extra nice guitar/fiddle/everything player (and by that I mean he is an incredibly, incredibly talented guitar/fiddle/everything player). He could play every song requested by heart. And do it well. And know the words. My cousin's husband joined him on the banjo, and other cousins took turns on the second guitar. My family members also have very beautiful voices, and while mine does not match theirs in talent, it hopefully makes up for it in sincerity and earnestness. We sang so many of my heart songs, my Hunt songs. So many of my granny's too, making it a very fitting tribute. And thanks to the magic of my dad's recorder and/or email, I am able to listen to these songs today, just one day later. It is heaven. It is home.

Joey posted a video! (His voice is the strongest here, as it is closest in proximity, but it will give you a small taste.)

Other of my favorite sung songs:
Let it Be
Brown Eyed Girl
I'll Fly Away
Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
Long Black Veil
Old Slew Foot
The Weight
You are my Sunshine
59th Street Bridge Song
Prisoner's Song
Man of Constant Sorrow
Fulsome Prison Blues
Leaving on a Jet Plane
Mr. Tambourine Man
Bad Moon Rising
Beautiful Brown Eyes
Battle of New Orleans


Newt said...

Aw Rachel that's beautiful. What a wonderful way to remember your grandmother! There's something about singing together that really means something. A heart's song.

Rachel. said...

So special and so unifying. It somehow reminds me a little of that Easter when every person sat in your family's living room and had to play the violin.