A trip to Alabama to say goodbye
This past week, my grandmother, Gussie Dyer, passed away. She had a long and fruitful life and went on surrounded by her family and smiling away. Having grown up on the other side of the continent, our visits with that side of the family were wrapped up in vacations and long-distance travel. My grandfather, Buck, had passed on back in 1988 but she persisted and was a joy to interact with, just recently passing her 100th birthday.
She is being placed in the graveyard at the Vinemont Baptist Church, where many of our extended family are interred. It is a bit odd to have a hillside of tombstones matching up with my Ancestry.com pedigree…
One of the common things she would say to me was, “Take Gary fishing! He loves it.” That is true, he is a fishaholic and probably should have received some kind of professional help for this at one or more times in his life. He even has a fish motif on his own tombstone.
However, the reality of her interest was that she love fresh fish too and couldn’t wait for us to get back and have a “fish fry” with her son and daughter. Always positive, always smiling, and a wonderful woman. I am glad that my daughter, Elizabeth, was able to meet and get to know her great-grandmother.
Most of the ‘visiting’ we are doing are with extended family up in Cullman, Alabama. A troop of mostly retired individuals, happy with chatting about their latest aliments, who has passed on, and general sweet talk. At dinner last night (Cracker Barrel was the venue of choice for the aged crowd), I picked up the bill for all the older folks and pointed out that I was the only one at that end of the table that actually had a job, so I was paying for the dinner either directly or indirectly through their Social Security. Laughs all around…
The younger generation, consisting of my two cousins on the Moneypenny side, their offspring (and offspring’s offspring in one case) and myself. My interactions with this side of the family have been tangential, through occasional visits, pictures shared by grandparents, and occasional Facebook posts. They are good people and make this more enjoyable than it would be had I been flying this one solo. It is odd being on the ‘kids table’ when you almost 50.
Her departure will also have some rather serious impacts for my father. Over the last decades, he has spent a considerable amount of time “…taking care of Mama.” In a sense, while he has been a dedicated caregiver, he has also used it as a crutch. I hope he can re-evaluate what his priorities are as he goes forward and, in his words, “…get all his shit in one sock.” (No idea where that saying came from).
Good bye Grandma Gussie.