Last week we finally had the memorial service for my grandma. We all went over on Sunday morning, the memorial was held on Monday 22nd in the afternoon. She volunteered for 30 years at the Museum cataloging paintings three afternoons a week, so they held it in the reading room she worked in. They met us all at the entrance and lead us through a warren of tunnels to get to the room. They had laid on a nice little spread of food and drink for before and then we had the service. Mum started off by saying a few words and then various people from the dept. said a few things about their memories of her and then a couple of distant family members spoke. Some of it was moving, some of it was banal, some of it was new to me, some of it was information I have known all my life. The dept. has kept the typewriter that she used to use - she always refused to upgrade past the electric typewriter. The desk and chair are in the basement still. They showed us the little black books that she would type pages, and then unscrew the tops, find the right opening and insert the hand typed card describing each painting that came in. They estimate that she cataloged 50,000 paintings in the time she worked there. One of the ladies told us that grandma always brought in cake, and she typed up a recipe she got from her and handed it out after she finished speaking. They all said lovely things, some more honest than others, some more relevant than others.
I was staying with an old family friend so I had my time to reflect away from the family. My dad and stepmum were there which was really lovely. I mostly got on alright with my mum and sister. We had a couple of stressful moments but on the whole it was a pretty easy going experience - or at least most of the stress didn't revolve around me. I got to see my baby cousin too, which was heartening. It didn't feel like a great relief, or a weight lifting, I didn't cry or sob, or rejoice. I just kind of hung out with my family. But since I've been home things have been lighter somehow, my heart has opened up a little more. I dressed up and I said what needed to be said in my heart I didn't need to say it out loud, and since I've been back I've been happier, easier within myself. Maybe all that strain is finally lifting and things will settle, and the grief that has had a home in my bones for over a year will burrow it's way out leaving a spaciousness in its wake.
And in the meantime I get to look towards some new horizons with a lightness in my heart and a spring in my step.