My family gathered in Atlanta over the weekend to remember my grandmother’s life. It was a memorial service full of Grandma’s favorite things: good food and family, baseball, and, believe it or not, bingo.
My aunts organized everything as a way of celebrating Grandma’s life and to mark Grandma’s birthday — she would have been 82 today.
Each of my aunts read something special, and I represented my mom during the readings with a short work about the circle of life. Afterward, we had a dinner of some of Grandma’s favorite foods, including my aunt’s tomato pie. We then took balloons (in Grandma’s favorite colors) outside where my Aunt Carol read a poem, written in the voice of someone recently departed talking to their loved ones. The voice, which we all knew was Grandma’s, urged us not to cry, but to instead allow her body to replenish the Earth while we keep her memory alive in our hearts.
We then said our goodbyes and released the balloons into the sky, with 2-year-old Devon, Grandma’s great-granddaughter, letting the first one go.
Sorrow quickly turned to joy as we moved back indoors and played bingo, with everyone winning a prize of Grandma’s favorite Christmas ornaments and her angels, which she loved so much. We tried to watch baseball, too, but a rain-out in Philadelphia kept the Atlanta Braves off the field.
Once everything started to settle down, one of my aunts said she thought today — Grandma’s birthday — would be a difficult day. But I feel differently. Today is a day to celebrate. Because with her passing, the part of Grandma that she left in each of our hearts is alive and vibrant like never before.
Pat Bowers gave me the love that my own parents were unable to give, and I owe much of who I am today to her, so Happy Birthday, Grandma. I sure do miss you. And I love you very, very much.