Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Goodby World Goodby

I feel as if the wind has been knocked out of my sails after the passing of my wonderful grandmother, Mom Jo, who died last week. She is one of the most important people in my life and I miss her. In spirit, Mom Jo has been gone for a few years thanks to the evil workings of Alzheimer’s but, while it was selfish on my part, it was still comforting knowing she was there. I could still see her and touch her and love on her and occasionally get her to laugh.

But last week when I got the call that Mom Jo had taken a turn for the worst my selfishness totally dissipated when I was telling her “good by”. I left her side that day filled with sadness but also feeling peaceful that the end of her journey was near. I loved her too much to ask her to fight and struggle to stay in this cold, cruel world for one more minute longer than she absolutely had to. Those ten hours I was with her and my mom is a time that I will treasure and never forget. Watching Mom Jo reach out during her labored, tense sleep with such other-worldly animation gave me hope that her guides were right there waiting for her and telling her not to be afraid. For some reason I’m fixated in hoping that is was her papa who was there to get her. She loved him so much.

Two days after I saw her, she died. My mom was right there with her every step of the way and thinking about my mother being there to watch her mother draw her final breath brings me great joy and great pain all at the same time. I’m so glad that Mom Jo waited for mom to return from Colorado.

The funeral was really wonderful and thanks to the great coordinating efforts of my mom, most everyone had a part. It was a real celebration of Mom Jo’s life with singing and stories and funny memories. My dad delivered an incredible eulogy – incredible not because it was so profound, but incredible because he got everything just right in a very genuine, warm and loving way. There wasn’t one thing contrived or exaggerated about his remarks and everyone remarked on how good it was. My hope is that dad wrote it down because I would love to read it from time to time.

The four grandchildren were pall bearers and during the service we told our favorite Mom Jo stories. It was hard for me and for the other three too, but our deliveries felt right and good for our distinct personalities. Mom picked great Southern Gospel standards for everyone to sing and she and my uncle sang solos in the song “Precious Memories” that were absolutely beautiful and soul stirring. As many times as I’ve heard her sing, there is a quality about my mom’s voice that will absolutely blow you away. My equally talented brother and sister-in-law opened “Amazing Grace” as a duet and they sounded like rock stars. Rock stars sweetly singing at a funeral.

My friend Beth put it best when I was telling her about the funeral. She said, “Lori…your family….you all are SHOW PEOPLE”. Amen, sister, and Mom Jo was the ringleader of us all. I wish everyone could hear the magic that was her music. As biased as I admit I am, I truly believe she was the greatest gospel piano player that ever lived. She achieved a certain level of fame – or should I say infamy – for her talent and every bit of it was deserved. Awesome.

Lots of people attended the service, which is great considering that Mom Jo has literally outlived all of her friends, save one, who, at age 98, made the trip and was at the funeral. Many of Mom Jo’s students, admirers, and friends of my mom and uncle were present.

The one police officer of Cisco, Texas stopped traffic to make way for the funeral procession (another reason to love small towns) and we couldn’t have asked for a nicer afternoon for a graveside service. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust.

Over the course of those few days there was lots of food, flowers, chaos, family, visitors, coming and going…but best of all, Mom Jo’s two great grandchildren, one being her namesake, were running and playing and laughing. It felt good to feel like the circle of life was spinning around just like it is supposed too.

After all of the emotion and celebration and busyness of last week is over I’ve felt really disconnected this week. How is life supposed to go on after you lose someone you love? I guess it just does. It just takes awhile to feel right again.

Someday I’m going to write down a few of my favorite Mom Jo stories because they are priceless to me but until then this entry is my simple little way to honor a unique and wonderful person who has meant the world to me.

Ruby Jo Pounds Webb Lewis. Born September 17, 1912. Died October 5, 2006. Rest in peace, Mom Jo.


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