Yesterday, my family gathered to celebrate the life of my Grandmother, Martel Ross. She passed away on Saturday at age 88, after several years of declining health.
This was the first time I remember seeing my brother, father, mother, aunts, uncles, cousins and their spouses in one place since 1989 when my parents divorced.
My grandma was a very intelligent, opinionated, and vocal person, which explains a lot about me and the rest of my family. She was also one of the most loving and supportive people in my life, no matter how stupid or ill-advised the choices I made.
Looking around the Fellowship Hall of the First United Methodist Church of Paragould, AR, yesterday afternoon, I saw my family together, being a family together, with all of the good and bad things that being a family entails. I saw the influence of my grandmother on the lives of these people who helped raise me, and who I grew up with, and it reminded me of what makes our family so special. We may be an odd collection of strong, mouthy, people, but when it comes right down to it, we love and support each other. That’s what family is all about.
During the ceremony that followed, the pastor shared stories about my grandmother that had the entire family laughing. Grandma had an amazing command of the human condition, and all the things that go along with it. Most importantly, she wasn’t afraid to share her insights, and that is perhaps her greatest strength.
After the ceremony, the remaining Rosses gathered to do what we always do when we’re together, eat and talk and laugh and love each other, even if we drive each other crazy sometimes. It reminded me of something I’ve forgotten over the years, something that can get lost in a tangled weave of the now, and all the things that seem to get in the way as we navigate our lives, and that is the importance of family. You can’t pick them and you only REALLY get one. I’ve forgotten this over the years and now have come to the realization of its importance, and impact in my life.
Physical mortality may be a part of the human condition from which none of us can escape, but regardless of the foundations of faith upon which you are grounded, I think we can all agree that a part of immortality comes from the impact and influence you have in the lives of the people around you throughout your life that lives on long beyond your years. So while my grandmother may be gone physically, she lives on in the hearts and minds of both her family, and those who were lucky enough to have her in their lives.
I love you Grandma. Thank you for all you gave, of your heart, mind, body and soul.